A look at the rise and careers of Sonu Nigam and Atif Aslam ahead of their concert tomorrow
Desi music fans will remember tomorrow night, when two music icons from India and Pakistan will perform together in Dubai for the first time ever.
Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam, and Atif Aslam, the Pakistani star who is also a household name in India, will be at Dubai World Trade Centre tomorrow, an event that is selling fast. Neither Nigam nor Aslam are new to the UAE – both have headlined several concerts in Dubai over the past few years, but this is the first time they will share the stage.
A singer, composer and actor, Nigam, 42, gave his first public performance at the age of 4. At 18, he began training with classical maestro Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan and subsequently moved to Mumbai to try his luck in Bollywood. It was in the mid-1990s that Nigam started to come into his own and found fame with the song Sandese Aate Hain from the 1997 war drama Border. This was followed by several other popular Bollywood hits.
Nigam has been equally successful as a solo artist – his first album, Deewana, was released in 1999 – and has regularly enthralled audiences all over the world with live concerts and tours. He has also won dozens of gongs, both at home (among them a National Award) and abroad (including an MTV Style Award).
The 32-year-old Atif Aslam started out wanting to be a cricketer, but went on to become one of the most celebrated musicians in his country. In 2013, Indian music streaming service Saavn had billed him the most popular artist of the year, followed by Arijit Singh, A R Rahman, Shreya Ghoshal and Mohit Chauhan.
The youngest recipient of Pakistan’s highest civilian honour, Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, Aslam started out performing in college and at other small gatherings with his friend, the composer Goher Mumtaz, with whom he later formed a band called Jal. Their song Aadat, recorded and released in 2004, went insanely viral and made Aslam an overnight sensation. Aslam and Mumtaz parted ways shortly thereafter. Mumtaz continued with Jal, while Aslam embarked on a solo career – one which would prove to be immensely successful.
His first solo album, Jal Pari was released shortly thereafter and some songs from the album instantly became as popular across the border as they did at home. Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt took notice, and immediately got Aslam to sing a version of one of the most popular tracks, Woh Lamhe, for his 2005 movie Zeher. It was a hit, and Aslam secured his place in Bollywood.
His solo career has been equally stellar. In 2012, he became the first Pakistani to perform in London’s O2 Arena. The same year, he became the first Asian singer, and the second artist after Bryan Adams, to perform at the Dashrath Rangasala National Football Stadium in Kathmandu, Nepal. Last month, Aslam performed at O2 for the third time – a first for any Asian artist.
Aslam is currently enjoying the success of his explosive performance of Tajdar-e-Haram in the ongoing season eight of the television series Coke Studio Pakistan – a track we strongly suspect is on his playlist for tomorrow’s concert.
• Sonu Nigam And Atif Aslam will perform tomorrow at Sheikh Rashid Hall, Dubai World Trade Centre. Silver (Dh500) and diamond (Dh1,500) tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com. Call 055 599 0080 for more information