KARACHI: Ever watched Alamgir’s performance of Albela Rahi on PTV? The 16-year-old playing the guitar in the video was none other than virtuoso Aamir Zaki. The rock star, who is no longer with us, was one of the earliest guitar players to enter the industry and to leave a long-lasting impact. It’s because of his sheer talent and skill that despite having limited music releases and supposed attitude problems, he still got to feature in Coke Studio and managed to blow us away with a single guitar solo. Though his contributions to stalwarts like Vital Signs’ and Alamgir’s work are unforgettable, Mera Pyar is what he will always be remembered for.
A song that came to the fore with a rather simple music video took its time to sync in with the audience back then. Mera Pyar was a really sad song for its time, the kind that people had never heard before. Neither did it have any philosophical undertones of a Vital Signs song nor was it as superficial as Aamir Saleem’s Ajnabi. It was simply a collection of heartfelt lyrics coupled by a mellow but catchy melody — something anyone, especially the youth, could catch on to when he or she is in “that phase”. That is why, perhaps, it is still the most covered song at underground gigs and every now and then, you hear an experimental version of the song being released.
Interestingly, the story behind the song is far more personal than the connection a listener makes to it.
“No one was involved in the making of this song apart from me. I had put together all words and music for the song. I wrote this song after my divorce when I was 24-years-old,” Zaki told The Express Tribune in an earlier interview.
“We had to come to a point in life where either one us would have broken the other person’s head. So the song was a way of saying everything that I couldn’t possibly utter at the point in time. Hence, Meri awaz suna laen na, meray geeton mae tum… woh alfaaz sunlain na, jo hojatay thae gum.”
As far as its impact on the music industry is concerned, Zaki believed it was the simplicity and sincerity of the song that got the listener’s attention.
“I feel it’s the honesty and directness of the song that reverberates with the deeper side of listeners,” he remarked.
A major reason the song didn’t become popular right after its release could perhaps be its rather half-hearted and hastily-made video. This was a time when Yasir Akhtar and Yatagan were doing Bhangra in their videos, Awaz was exploring new concepts and experimenting with visual treatments and in that entire theatrical affair, the simple performance in Mera Pyar’s video failed to get the amount of attention it deserved.
Even someone like Waqar Ali had to resort to funny moves in Paise Anay Dae and Ik Tara Bolay in order to be featured in Pakistan’s prime music channel chart show of the 1990s, Top of the Pops. But Zaki never conceded into acting like a dancing pop star. Even after Signature (1996), Rough Cut with Hadiqa Kyani (2007) and Coke Studio 7 (2014), he remains one of the most reclusive artists in the industry and is often found missing in action.