Atif Aslam (Urdu: عاطف اسلم) is a Pakistani musician. He was born in Wazirabad, Gujranwala on March 12, 1983 and was educated in Lahore and Rawalpindi.
Atif’s kindergarten started in Model town Lahore at Kimberley Hall School. His first stage manifestation was in a fancy dress show at his school when he was in grade 1 where he performed as Imran Khan, the former captain of Pakistan’s national cricket team. Since then cricket was like a passion to him. He was never tired of playing cricket for hours in his car porch whether it is scorching sun outside or even raining. At that time he was not used to listen any kind of songs. At the age of 9 in 1991 he was shifted to Rawalpindi/Islamabad where he continued his studies in Saint Paul’s School. He started playing Basketball and he use to lead his school team for various matches. Atif came back to Lahore in 1995 where he continued his studies in Divisional Public School Model Town. For his immense passion for cricket he was selected in his school team as a fast bowler. Atif cleared his 10th grade in 14 years of age with a distinctive edge that he has always been the youngest boy in the class because of his double promotions while he was in Kimberley Hall. Atif started his FSc in PAF College Lahore. He was in his college team as well where he presented his college in other cities. Beside his studies he was putting his maximum time in practicing for the professional cricket. During his college life he come across with some interest in music. He attended Punjab Institute of Computer Science (PICS) to do his Bachelors in Computer Science (BCS). Aslam’s eldest brother owned a collection of more than 8,000 songs of almost all music genres, from which Atif absorbed a wide range of music at home. As a good learner he quickly grasped the control of voice, though at that time he was not interested in singing. Aslam’s passion was still to enter the Pakistani cricket team as a fast bowler and he was right on track while practicing at the net at the Shapes Club Lahore where Imran Khan used to come and give tips to him for bowling.
Start of Musical Career
The twist in the story comes when one day he was singing with his friends at the college canteen. His friends insisted him to participate in the singing on Independence Day celebrations at PAF College Lahore and Sargodha in 1998. He performed there and won the competition. After HSc, Atif Joined Punjab Institute of Computer Science Gulberg Campus. This time studies were much more demanding as compared to the previous ones. He was forced to sacrifice his time playing cricket in order to do well in school. However, his hobby of singing continued when he entered in the singing competition of his college, where there were a total of 8 participants. The media team entered Atif’s name in the competition at the eleventh hour and he won the competition singing a hit number of Pakistani band Strings’ Duur.
Jal The Band
Aslam kept winning these competitions every semester. He found Goher Mumtaz, a talented guitarist, at this time. Together, they started doing mini concerts for their friends. Atif used to primarily sing songs from Junoon and Strings at these concerts. The size of the audiences kept on increasing. They performed concerts for their college, McDonalds and some other restaurants as well. Atif recorded the legendary song Aadat at Mekal Hassan’s Studio. Mekal injected his professionalism in the song to make it worth listening time after time. Goher formed the band and named the band as Jal, which means water, the essence of life. The song got popularity on the different musical websites on Pakistan. . The song was also played on such Pakistani radio stations. The music video for Aadat was shot one day in a warehouse in Karachi. Soon it came out to be a super hit, topping the Pakistani music charts. On the base of this one song, “Jal” began their tour of Pakistan—such was the strength of “Aadat”. However, Atif and Gohar conflicted upon some band management matters leading to a band breakup. Atif decided to launch his solo career while Gohar continued with Jal, seeking for new band mates
Album Cover of Jal Pari.Atif Aslam, after leaving Jal, released a new solo album, Jal Pari (meaning “Mermaid”) which was a big hit. Other than Aadat, ‘Dil Harey’, ‘Woh Lamhey’, ‘Yakeen’ became favourites of Pakistani music fans. Though his songs were liked by many, his first solo music video of ‘Mahi ve’ did not receive much praise. On the other hand Jal, with their album “Aadat” and hit music video “Woh Lamhay” emerged as one of the top bands of Pakistan. As both the Jal, “Aadat”, and Atif’s album, Jalpari, shared certain tracks (such as “Aadat”, “Wo Lamhey”, “Dil Harey”) an unofficial war over rights began which resulted in both sides claiming to possess hard proof to support their respective claims (that, they alone owned the concerned songs). The hype this feud gave to both Atif and the new Jal was extraordinary and split the music fans with the fans of each side backing their respective favourite.
Across The Border
Whilst the drama of lyrics & composition ownership continued in Pakistan, Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt called Atif Aslam to seek his consent to include “Woh Lamhey” in the soundtrack of his new motion picture, Zeher (2005). The song (especially the remix version) became a hit & dominated airplay on almost all major FM stations throughout India for a period of 6-8 months. This pattern of a slow playback song by Atif in the movie, supplemented by a remix version released for radio airplay was to become standard procedure with Atif’s songs on the Indian market.
He recorded a song for the movie Kalyug (2005), entitled Juda Hokey Bhi – a slight variation of the ever famous Aadat song. Like with “Wo Lamhey / Bheegi Yaadein”, a slow version became the theme for the movie and part of the official soundtrack, whilst a remixed version was released to hit the radio stations and desi clubs worldwide.
After recording for Kalyug, an Irani director in Hollywood contacted Atif and within very little time, Atif recorded three songs for that same director’s Hollywood movie, Man Push Cart and was rewarded with a small cameo role in the movie.
Atif re-emerged in the subcontinent with a new track, “Tere Bin” (Without You) for the Bollywood Movie, Bas Ek Pal (2006). The song “Tere Bin”, composed by upcoming music director Mithoon, who was also responsible for rearranging “Woh Lamhe” and “Aadat”, became a hit in India and Pakistan.
Album Cover of Doorie.In December 2006, Atif Aslam released his much anticipated album called “Doorie” along with the video of the title song “Doorie” in India and Pakistan. Some of the songs in the album include “Hum kis galli”, “Maula”, “O re piya”. One of the most critically-acclaimed tracks was “Kuch Is Tarah”, composed by past collaborator Mithoon.The album was produced in collaboration with Indian lyricists and composers. A month later the video of “Hum kis galli” was released. Like the video of “Doorie”, it was shot in India. The album proved to be success. The videos of doorie (remix) and Ehsaas (included in both “jal pari” and “Doorie”) were released one after another in the months of march/april.
The Bollywood style of music and videos in “Doorie” has diappointed many of Atif’s fans in Pakistan who had been liking Atif for his “Jal Pari” style songs. About this Atif said “Touring internationally made me think that I should take my music global by releasing it worldwide. I collaborated with a lot of people and thought up a plan for a commercial album, which is not my type of music; which is not ATIF. I just wanted to explore that side of the music. When I composed and wrote these songs for Doorie, I kept in mind that this album has to be commercial”. He also told that he would soon be releasing an album named Hangami Halaat which would be an original ‘atif style’ album. Regarding his videos he says “I think that was a requirement because the Indian audience can never accept my ‘Mahi Vey’ video or my ‘Rangoun Mein’ video. They have a different concept about a pop or a rock icon. He has to be a heart throb. Girls here can’t sit on motor bikes, in India girls ride them. It’s a different culture altogether. They (my Indian videos) are for an international audience
Controversies began surrounding Atif from the beginning of his solo career. Many of Atif’s critics accused him of stealing songs from former band mate Gohar Mumtaz. Both Atif and Gohar laid claim on songs like “Aadat”, “Dil Harey”, “Woh Lamhey” and “Zindagi”. Still no one knows whose creations actually these songs are. Aadat was eventually released on both Atif’s Jal Pari and on Jals album ironically named Aadat. Atif has been accused by many of his pakistani fans of spreading himself too thinly and due to the release of his commercial album (Doorie) which resulted in him releasing a the album Hungaami Halaat within a few months of Doories release.
Best song, Best Composition, Best Lyrics “Aadat”- 2nd Jazz Indus Music Awards (Pakistan)
Best playback singer, Best debut singer – Sahara Sangeet Awards (India)
Best Song, Best Lyricist, Best Composition – ARY Music Awards (Pakistan)
Most Wanted Male – The Musik Awards (Pakistan)
BEST POP STAR OF THE YEAR in FILMAZIA AWARDS (pakistan)
Jal Pari (July 2004)
Doorie (December 2006)
Hungami Halat (Leaked February 2007)