Ahmed Rushdi (Artist)



Early life

Ahmed Rushdi was born to a religious, conservative family of Hyderabad Deccan in 1934. His father, Syed Manzoor Ahmed, 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. This fact is on record that Ahmed Rushdi did not get any sort of formal training of classical singing but his God gifted talents, expressive voice and grip over high notes brought a unique place for him in music industry. He sang his first song in the Indian film Ibrat in 1951 and got well recognition. His family moved to Pakistan and settled in Karachi in 1954, where he began participating in variety shows, music programs, and children’s programs on radio. In 1954, he recorded his first non-film song, “Bunder Road se Keemari,” written by Mehdi Zaheer for the popular Radio Pakistan show Bachchon Ki Duniya; the song was a hit and became the steppingstone for Rushdi’s future.

Singing Career

After the success of “Bunder Road se Keemari”, Rushdi was offered songs as a playback singer for films and quickly gained popularity.He lent his voice to many hit films like Bara Aadmi (1956), Wah Rey Zamaney (1957), Raat Ke Rahi (1957), Yeh Dunya (1958) and many more. Rushdi got well recognition for singing “Mari lela ne aisi” in Anokhi (1956), “Chalak Rahi Hain Mastiyan” and “Chal Na Sakey Gi 420” in Raaz (1959). In 1961, he sang the popular song “Chand Sa Mukhra Gora Badan” in the film Saperan, for which he received his first Nigar Award as Best Male Playback Singer. He further strengthened his status as one of the top male playback singers in Mehtaab (1962), in which he sang “Gol Gappay Wala Aaya” for actor Alauddin; they would again be teamed in Susral. In 1966, he sang “Ko Ko Koreena”, considered the first modern Pakistani pop song. The film Anchal (1962) was an important film in Rushdi’s career. Music director Khalil Ahmed recorded an extremely sad number “Kisi chaman mei raho tum” in singer Saleem Raza’s voice but wanted Rushdi to re-record the song as he was not satisfied with Saleem Raza’s singing. Rushdi did so and the song is still considered one of the best songs of his career. Raza’s career as a singer was affected and doomed later on. After that, whenever Khalil composed music for any film, Rushdi remained his first choice. The mid 1960s saw the rise of brilliant singers like Mehdi Hassan and Masood Rana, but it did not affect Rushdi’s career and he kept on leading the film music. All film music experts including Nisar Bazmi, Sohail Rana and M. Ashraf are unanimous that Rushdi’s voice was best suited for every hero, comedian and even character actor. He lent his voice to Waheed Murad, Nadeem, Santosh Kumar, Darpan, Habib, Rehman, Ghulam Mohiuddin and was tailor made for every actor of film industry. Rushdi’s voice was even ideally suited to comedians such as Munawwar Zarif, Lehri, Nirala, Nanha and Rangeela. In fact, Rushdi’s songs had a tremendous impact on the success of those movies. Rushdi recorded the ghazal “Shok-e-awargi” written by poet Habib Jalib for actor Syed Kamal in the 1963 film Joker. This ghazal sung by Rushdi, is still considered one of the best film ghazals in subcontinent film industry. Rushdi and Jalib again teamed together for Mohammad Ali in the film Khamosh Raho (1964). Rushdi sang the ghazal “Mei Nahi Manta” for the same film and gained Habib Jalib country-wide fame. He recorded a Qawwali “Madiney waley ko mera salam kehdena” along with Munir Husain same year. Actor Nadeem’s first film as a leading actor was Chakori (1967). Rushdi recorded four songs for this film in the composition of music director Robin Ghosh. “Kabhi toe tum ko yaad ayen gi”, “Pyare pyare yar humare” and “Tujhe chahein meri bahein”. Same year, film Doraha and Shehnai were released. He recorded all the songs for these films including “Bhooli hue hoon dastan”, “tumhein kaise bta doon”, “Han issi mor per” (film Doraha) and “Tujhey apney dil se mei kaise”, “Nazaron se haseen hai”, “Dunya mei tumko jeena hai agar” ( film Shehnai). I n 1968, Rushdi recorded his first ever Bengali song in the film Notun Name Dako of Dhaka titled “Ke Tumi Ele Go”, which became a smashing hit in the then East Pakistan. He sang playback hits in the same year like “Ae mere diwaney dil” (film Jahan tum wahan hum), “Socha tha pyar na karein ge” (film Ladla), “Usey dekha usey chaha usey bhool gaye” (film Jahan tum wahan hum), “Teri aankhon ke bheegey sitarey” (film Ma Beta) and many more. Same year, Rushdi recorded a song “Salam-e-mohabbat” for Mohammad Ali in Khawaja Khurshid Anwar’s composition. Rushdi sang for Waheed Murad in 1969 film “ Naseeb Apna Apna”. The song “Ae abr-e-kaaram aaj itna baras” brought another Nigar award for him. The song was composed by Lal Mohammad Iqbal. He also won different awards for songs like “Dil tumko de diya hai” and “Hum se na bigar aye larki”. Around the same year, he sang a duet with Mala in the film Baharei phir bhi ayen gi, “Khush naseebi hai meri”. In 1969, the film Andaleeb was released. Ahmed Rushdi recorded all the songs for Waheed Murad in this film. The song “Kuch log rooth ker bhi” was a hit. Its sad version was sung by Noor Jahan. Although he sang for every film hero in Pakistan, his pairing with Waheed Murad proved to be the most popular, in such movies as Armaan (1966); the song “Akele Na Jaana” from that movie in Sohail Rana’s composition gained Rushdi another Nigar Award. Well-known hits of Rushdi picturised on Waheed Murad such as “Lag rahi hai mujhey aaj sari faza ajnabi” or “Kuchh loag rooth kar bi” were composed by Nisar Bazmi, the legendary composer for Pakistani movies.Ahmed Rushdi-Nisar Bazmi pair and Ahmed Rushdi-Sohail Rana combination were two of the most successful singer-music director pairs of Pakistan film music. The 1970s brought new faces like Alamgir, Akhlaq Ahmed, Ghulam Abbas, A Nayyar etc. But Rushdi remained a leading singer of film industry. Film “Bandagi”, Naag Muni and “Baazi” were released in 1971. Ahmed Rushdi had a playback in all the three films. He also won several awards for songs such as “Aik albeli si naar” (Naag Muni), “Tum bhi ho ajnabi” (Baazi) and “Poocho na hum ne kis liye” (Intezar). Perhaps, the song below never rang as true as it did after Ahmed Rushdi’s demise: “Chore chalay hum chore chalay lo sheher tumhara chore chalay”, film, Phir chand niklay ga (1970) music, Sohail Rana. Rushdi sung four solo songs and one duet for Waheed in the film Khalish (1972). “Honto pe tera naam”( with Mala), “Kal achanak jo sar-e-rah mili thi”, “Ghussey mei gulabi gaal” and “Pyar hota hai”. Music director was M.Ashraf. Around the same year, he sung for Mohammad Ali in the film “Mohabbat”. Rushdi recorded three songs in the film including a sad song “Khudara mohabbat na karna”. Music director was Nisar Bazmi. In 1973, he recorded a qawwali “Dil torney waley” for the film Mehboob mera mastana. Ahmed Rushdi also recorded a romantic number ”Teri jabeen se chodhwin ka chand jhankta rahey” (film Nadan) for actor Rehman. He recorded a sad song “Angara mera mann” for film “Jaal” which was released same year. He was also fond of acting and appeared in eleven films as an actor including Anokhi (1956) and Kaneez (1965). He also composed a music album in singer Mujeeb Aalam’s voice. In 1974, film Anhoni was released. Waheed Murad and Aliya were in leading roles. Music director Lal Mohammad Iqbal recorded two songs in Rushdi’s voice. “Hai kahan who kali” and a sad number “Mei tujhey Nazar kia doon”. In the same year he sang for actor Shahid in film “Dharkan”. He recorded a romantic number “Rangat gulabi chehra kitabi” for Shahid. In 1975, Ahmed Rushdi recorded “Dil ko jalana hum ne chor diya” (Film Mohabbat zindagi hai). This song was picturised on Waheed Murad and gained country wide popularity. He sung another song “Mashriqi rang ko chor ke” for the same film. He recorded many songs for Pakistan television including “Dil mei tu hai”, “Han issi mor pe” and “Bheegey hue mousam mei”. Rushdi was not only singing for films, but he was equally a busy figure for Radio and Television also. He remained a leading singer between 1954 and 1983. He sang for all the famous actors of Pakistan film industry. Rushdi recorded his last song “Ban ke misra ghazal ka” in 1983 for film Hero, which was picturised on Waheed Murad and the song was a hit. He recorded a large number of duets in many languages with Runa Laila, Mala, Naheed Niazi, Noor Jahan, Irene Parveen, Naseem Begum and Naheed Akhtar in his thirty-three-year singing career. [1]

First regular pop singer of South Asia

Ahmed Rushdi is considered to be the first regular pop singer of south asia as he introduced hip-hop, rock n roll, disco and other modern genres in South Asian music and has since then been adopted in Bangladesh, India and lately Nepal as a pioneering influence in their respective pop cultures. Following Rushdi’s success, Christian bands specialising in jazz started performing at various night clubs and hotel lobbies in Karachi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Dhaka and Lahore. They would usually sing either famous American jazz hits or cover Rushdi’s songs. Rushdi sang playback hits along with Runa Laila until the Bangladesh Liberation War when East Pakistan was declared an independent state. Because of Ahmed Rushdi, Pakistani music industry has steadily spread throughout South Asia and today is the most popular genre in Pakistan and the neighbouring South Asian countries.Pop icons like Alamgir and Muhammad Ali Shehki later on followed Rushdi’s landmarks in playback singing.

Personal life


Ahmed Rushdi got married to Humera on November 30, 1963. His wife died in 1992, nine years after Rushdi’s death. He belonged to a Sayyid family (a sacred cast in muslims) and was a religious person. 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.

Last years

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. Ahmed Rushdi never faced downfall as far as his singing career is concerned. Until the 1970s, Rushdi was one of the leading voices in the subcontinent. In his last years, a weakened Rushdi, suffering from heart disease, recorded fewer songs on his doctor’s advise.


Since 1976, Ahmed Rushdi was a heart patient and his doctors advised him to abstain from singing but Rushdi refused by saying that music was his life. When he had a second heart attack in 1981, he was composing a musical album in the voice of singer Mujeeb Aalam. His last non film song was “Aaney walo suno” which was a duet with Mehnaz. 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.[2]

List of Songs

  1. Bandar road se kimari meri chali re ghora gari
  2. Akele na Jana humein chor kar tum
  3. Bhooli hui hoon dastan guzra huwa khayal hoona 
  4. Haan isi moor par is jagha beth kar tum nay waada kiya tha
  5. Tumhain kaisay bata doon tum meri manzil ho 
  6. Jab pyar main do dil miltay hain main soachta hoon 
  7. Ko ko koreena meray khayalon main chhai hay ek surat matwali si
  8. Yun rooth na gori mujh say dil toot gaya
  9. Gori simti jaye sharm se dil ka bhed 
  10. Kiya hai jo pyar to pare ga 
  11. Aey abr-e-karam aaj itna barasa 
  12. Tum wohi ho low tumhein aaj bata detay hain 
  13. Socha tha payar na karain gay 
  14. Hansti hoi mojon ne aakhir paya apna saahil 
  15. Kuch loag rooth kar bhi lagtay hain kitnay piyaray 
  16. Bhabi meri bhabi tum jiyo hazaron saal 
  17. Lag rahi hai mujhe aaj sari faza ajnabi ajnabi 
  18. Dil tum ko day diya hay iss ka khayal rakhna 
  19. Meri guriya ka hay jalwa nirala 
  20. Chor chalay hum chor chalay lo shehar tumhara chor chalay
  21. Tumhi Ko Mubarak Ho Dostu
  22. Kisi Chaman Mein Roho
  23. Aaj Es Shahair Mein
  24. Pyar Mein Hum Ne Khae
  25. Kabhi To Tum Ko Yaad Aengi woh baharain woh sama
  26. Tujhe Apne Dil Se Main kaisay bhula doon
  27. Laab Pe Tera Naam
  28. Duniya Ke Ghamoon Ko
  29. Aise Bhi Hain Mehrban
  30. Main Pyar Ki Bazi Har chala 
  31. Dil Nahi To Koi Shesha 
  32. Jab Pyar Mein Do Dil 
  33. Chod Chale Hum Chod Chale 
  34. Manzil Apni Door O Saathi  [3]


Nigar Awards

  1. 1961 – Best Male Playback Singer for the song “Chand Sa Mukhra Gora Badan” in film Saperan
  2. 1962 – Best Male Playback Singer for the song “Gol Gappey Wala” in film Mehtaab
  3. 1963 – Best Male Playback Singer for the song “Kisi Chaman Mei Raho” in film Anchal
  4. 1966 – Best Male Playback Singer for the song “Akeley Na Jana” in film Armaan
  5. 1970 – Best Male Playback Singer for the song “Aey Abr-e-Karam” in film Naseeb Apna Apna
  6. 2004 – Life Time Achievement Awar

Graduate Awards

  1. 1965 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Mohabbat Mei Tere Ser Ki Qasam” in film Aisa Bhi Hota Hai
  2. 1967 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Haan Issi Mor par” in film Doraha
  3. 1968 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Kabhi Toe Tumko Yaad Ayen Gi” in film Chakori
  4. 1969 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Kuch Log Rooth Kar Bhi” in film Andaleeb
  5. 1970 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Lag Rahi Hai Mujhey Aaj Sari Fiza” in film Anjuman

Musawwir Awards

  1. 1972 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Meri Jaan Meri Jaan Yehi Zindagi Hai” in film Bandagi
  2. 1973 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Hai Kahan Woh Kali” in film Anhoni
  3. 1975 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Mashriqi Rang Ko Chor Ke” in film Mohabbat Zindagi Hai
  4. 1978 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Tu Saamney Hai Mere” in film Sharmeeli
  5. 1979 – Best Male Playback singer for the song “Sab Kamron Mein Band Hain” in film Zameer

Other Awards

  1. 1967 – Best Sad Song Award for “Tujhey Apney Dil Se Mei Kaisey Bhuladoon” in the film Shehnai
  2. 1968 – Classic Award for the song “Kiya Hai Jo Pyar To Padega Nibhana” in the film Dil Mera Dharkan Teri
  3. 1970 – Silver Screen Award for the song “Chhor Chaley Hum Chhor Chaley” in the film Phir Chand Nikley Ga
  4. 1973 – Al-Fankar Award for the song “Mei Tujhey Nazar kya Doon” in the film Anhoni
  5. 1975 – Screen Light Award for the song “Dil Ko Jalana Hum Ne Chor Diya” in the film Mohabbat Zindagi Hai
  6. 1983 – Rooman Award for the song “Ban Ke Misra Ghazal Ka Chaley Aaona” in the film Hero
  7. 2000 – Best Singer Of The Millennium Award
  8. 2001 – Legend Award
  9. 2004 – Sitara-i-Imtiaz
  10. 2005 – Indus TV Indus Music Hall of Fame
  11. 2012 – Lux Style Award Lifetime Achievement Award


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