Eighteen years ago, Adnan Sami left Pakistan and relocated to India. Little did he know, he was about to become a phenomenon in the country. Although India wasn't his birth place, it was the country of his choice. In a conversation with CNN-News18, the talented singer spoke about his music, his family and his choice of living in India.
He started by sharing the experiences of his transitioning 'journey,' “I came in 1999 and I had no clue where this journey was going to take me. I took it as it came and within a couple of years, I was in rapture with this overwhelming love I got from India. India fell in love with me but I fell in love with India even more.”
“I just said to myself that this is that missing link I was waiting for, looking for all my life, and I found it. It just felt perfect. Not only did my music find a beautiful home but my soul also found a home. And the way people embraced me, I felt at home over here, more than anywhere else in my life,” he added.
Speaking about his time in Pakistan, Adnan expressed, “Over there I had love but because I come from a privileged family, there was the whole element of ‘okay you’re a musician too but why don’t you continue being a lawyer’ because that is what I studied. It was like why music when you have come from such a different background. They didn’t understand that was my calling, you know."
Adnan Sami on how it feels to be an Indian citizen
The star then went on to speak about how England 'discovered him' but he still ended up in India, "It is very interesting because I spent my entire childhood abroad but I spent most of it in England and I was doing a lot of recording there. That's where I met Asha jee for the first time, Asha Bhosle jee.”
He continued, “So we were recording an album which eventually became 'Kabhi To Nazar Milao' and she asked, ‘Sami, where do you intend to release this?’ I said, ‘Asha jee, I will probably release this in England.’ And then she said to me, ‘You know what? The capital of Hindi music is Mumbai.’ She told me to come to Mumbai and release it.”
“I was reluctant because I didn’t know anyone there but she insisted that I come and to trust her. So it was basically her who led me to India. She was the one who actually nudged me. So, I built up the courage and I actually came to Mumbai at that time. And then, before I knew it, the album released and the rest is history,” he said.
The Lift Karadey singer has been trolled many times by the Pakistani public due to his decision to take up Indian citizenship. When asked about the backlash he experienced, Adnan stated that he was expecting it, “It's strange because many years earlier, even before I got my citizenship, there was a very popular rumour in Pakistan that I have already become an Indian citizen. Something very interesting happened during then.”
He continued, “It was when my father was still alive – he passed away in 2009. President Musharraf was in power at that time and he met my father to whom he mentioned that he was a big fan of mine. So my father, being a very very doting and proud father, compiled a set of CDs and sent it to the President as a gift.”
“Musharraf responded with a thank you letter which was very surprising, considering it was from the President of Pakistan. He wrote, 'Thank you very much Sami saahab for the CDs and it's fantastic that Adnan has done so well, but it is a shame that he had to give up his country for the sake of achieving his fame.’ My father was shocked. How could he conclude that I am already an Indian citizen? I mean … he’s the President. He should be privy to every possible information.”
A true music lover will never give a damn about my citizenship: Adnan Sami
Adnan shared how his father, very bravely, wrote back to the President and confirmed that Adnan was indeed still a Pakistani citizen. His response read, ‘Excuse me, I want to make it clear that my son has not acquired Indian citizenship. He is very much a Pakistani at this point.’
The singer then confirmed that he was not at all surprised with the reactions because of an encounter at the airport, “I went to Pakistan in 2009 after my father passed away in Mumbai - he was suffering from pancreatic cancer. After he passed away, I took him back to Pakistan for the funeral. I remember the immigration officers were pretty shocked to see my green passport at the time.”
Speaking further on the trolls, Adnan shared, “I was trolled many times. They called me gaddaar (traitor), but I don’t understand how I have betrayed them. Yes, I was a Pakistani, but the point of the matter is that I have decided to live where I wish to. It is my right and I am not going to be answerable to anybody for my choices."
He added, "It's a free world. God created the world, we have only drawn borders. We can go and sit anywhere; it's God's land. And if I have decided to live in India, it's my right. This is my God's world."
He went on to express how he thought the people of Pakistan lacked grace in accepting his decision, “If I had chosen to immigrate to the US or the UK, that would have been fine - but why not India? They decided to make it an issue which, frankly speaking, was not their right. I don't give that right to anybody.”
“I had spoken to the most important person in my life - my father. I sought his blessings and he said, ‘I know that they love you and if you love them back that is all you need ... I have lived my life, you live yours, and be happy wherever you are,’" Adnan concluded.
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