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Published on 19 Dec 2010 | over 5 years ago

Ahmed Rushdi - (Urdu: احمد رشدی April 24, 1934 -- April 11, 1983) was a versatile Pakistani playback singer who worked in film music and was "an important contributor to the Golden Age of Pakistani film music.

Early life -
Ahmed Rushdi was born to a religious, conservative family of Hyderabad Deccan in 1934. His father, Syed Manzoor Muhammad, taught Arabic, Islamic History and Persian at Aurangabad College, Hyderabad, Deccan. He died when Rushdi was only six years old. From a young age, Rushdi was fond of listening to the musical programs, including songs, which were broadcast from the radio. He neither inherited music from any one, nor any body in his family was ever affiliated to music. Ahmed Rushdi's singing talents impressed a very close friend of his father, whom he called uncle and who loved him dearly. He enrolled in a local music academy in Hyderabad Deccan. Moreover, two popular composers of the time, M.A. Rauf and Iqbal Qureshi, also taught music in the same school. Thus, Ahmed Rushdi learned the basics of music from the afore-mentioned teachers. he migrated to Pakistan and became a leading singer in the Pakistan film industry. He is considered to be one of the most versatile singers of the subcontinent and was capable of singing variety of songs. He is also considered to be the first regular pop singer of south asia and credited as having sung the "first-ever South asian" pop song, "Ko-Ko-Ko-reena." In 1954, he recorded the official National anthem of Pakistan with several other singers. Rushdi has recorded the highest number of film songs in the history of Pakistani cinema. He suffered from poor health during the latter part of his life and died of a heart attack at the age of 48, after recording approximately five thousand film songs for 583 released films. Besides popular music, Rushdi also helped popularize the ghazals of Naseer Turabi.
In 2003, 20 years after his death, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf awarded him the Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the "star of excellence," an honour given for distinguished merit in the fields of literature, arts, sports, medicine, or science. A street in "Gulshan-e-Iqbal", Karachi, also named Ahmed Rushdi Road.

Personal life -
Ahmed Rushdi got married with Humera on November 30, 1963. His wife died in 1992, nine years after Rushdi's death. Despite of his popularity and fame, Rushdi never had any scandal in his entire career. He had three daughters. His younger daughter, Rana Rushdi used to sing her father's songs in his presence which always pleased Rushdi a lot. He was against allowing his daughters to adopt singing as a profession. Ahmed Rushdi and Noor Jahan were highest paid singers in their time but Rushdi did not charge those producers and music directors a single rupee, who could not afford him. Famous music director Lal Mohammad made his entry into Pakistan film industry because Rushdi introduced him to different producers which he disclosed after Rushdi's death. Likewise, poet Masroor Anwer got his first film as Rushdi insisted the music director Manzoor-Ashraf to give Masroor a chance. Rushdi never faced downfall as far as his singing career is concerned.

Popularity and influence -
Once music director Nisar Bazmi in an interview said, "Ahmed Rushdi and Mohammad Rafi are amongst those few singers in the subcontinent, whose voices did not form 'cones', as they rose and touch the higher notes. Their volumes rose up without getting squeaky!" Many of his contemporaries compared his music with that of classically trained singers, although Rushdi never had any influences from any classical singer. His popularity also turned traditional classical singers against him but did not effect his fame and his death is termed as irreparable loss to the industry. Actor Waheed Murad declared Rushdi's song, "Bhooli hui hoon daastan", his favorite song.

In early 1980s, Rushdi shifted to Karachi as he was not feeling well and wanted to have a proper heart treatment. He was also singing less for films and film music itself was facing a decline. The 1980s saw a nose-dive in the progress of cinema in Pakistan. Number of cinemas decreased rapidly and people preferred watching television over going to a cinema. Playback singing that once was popular now struggled to exist and the singers needed a new medium to start afresh. Even then, Rushdi's demand and popularity was still there with the music directors. He opened a music academy in order to teach music and playback singing to youngsters. On the night of April 11, 1983, he had a third heart attack. He was immediately taken to the hospital but pronounced dead by the doctors. He was 48. Rushdi was buried at Sakhi Hassan Graveyard Karachi.

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