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Fare thee well Arthur Nayyar! [The Nation] 13 Nov, 2016

The eve of Remembrance Day bid us farewell with yet another tragic news that broke us down in tears. Arthur Nayyar, famously known as, A Nayyar passed away peacefully in his sleep. A Nayyar, who is Pakistan’s pride, was a celebrated film playback singer with a record of over 5,000 film, television, radio, and gospel songs. His career in Pakistani Gospel music is marked by glorious number of hymns among which most were translations from traditional English and Latin hymns. Recognised as an epic Pakistani Gospel singer, he paired up to sing duet-hymns with the famous Mehnaz Begam, Nayyara Noor, Humerra Channa and Saleem Inayat. Most of these were collections of Psalms, Easter and Christmas carols. For this, A Nayyar along with the mentioned music artistes, gained acknowledgement for being a beacon of interfaith harmony and peace. One of the world famous hymns he’s sung in Urdu is Tu Hai Azeem (How Great Thou Art ), which is of Swedish origin written in 1885.

A Nayyar, born in 1950, was discovered by famed director Riaz Shahid, and so A Nayyar made his debut in the film Bahisht in 1974. A Nayyar’s duet with Rubina Badar Yuhi Din Cut Jye, Yuhi Sham Dhal Jye for the film became instant hit giving him widespread fame in the industry. His song, Bina Tera Naam remains the most notable song of A Nayyar because the song was written by him as tribute to his wife while they were expecting their fourth and youngest child. The song, from his personal collection, was so heart touching that it inspired production of a famous film in which the actress was named ‘Bina’ as well. "Even during his illness in the recent months, he was known to have hum this song to Chachi ji (his wife) refreshing good memories and nostalgia,” shared his nephew Arun Zafar.

A fresh graduate from Forman Christian College, A Nayyar, continued to soar higher setting trends in film and pop music. His career was at the epitome of glory in the regime of General Zia-ul-Haq during which he kept the spirit of the nation high through patriotic songs. As a matter of fact, A Nayyar besides other eminent Christian music artistes like Saleem Raza, S B John, Irene Perveen and Benjamin Sisters won world acclaim for their contributions to indigenous performing arts. His devotion and patriotism was clearly expressed through his contributions made during the hardest of times. 

A Nayyar is remembered as one of those who enjoyed affectionate and cordial relationships with his fellow artistes. He was particularly close to the family of eminent actress Nilo, Shaan’s mother, who was his sister from another mother. Amina Shaan, while expressing her grief shared:

“Tony Mamu – that’s what we all called him was extremely loving and very dear to us. It’s a matter of great pride that Tony Mamu was the playback singer for Shaan’s first film ‘Bulandi.’ We feel proud to have him as a close family friend. He was always the MC at our family gatherings. We always knew we could rely on him for taking care of the events. His death is an immense loss to the nation, and not just to the film or music industry. There will never be another Arthur Nayyar!”

A Nayyar’s health began to deteriorate after his best friend Dildar Bhatti, a well reputed Punjabi writer, poet and anchor, passed away. His health further worsened after his only son passed away due to unexpected illness in 2012. During the course of time, A Nayyar was left a little heart broken when trends in film industry changed. Yet, he confronted the challenges, including the controversy caused by Waris Baig regarding film Jeeva, very gracefully. Factually speaking, contrary to the contract promised to A Nayyar, the project for the film’s playback singing was given to the then newly introduced Warris Baig. For the film ‘Sangham’, A Nayyar had recorded a song with actress Resham titled, O Janay Jana Janum. Unfortunately, this song was excluded from the film at last minute due to backstage politics. Despite a few setbacks, critics testify, A Nayyar remains invincible. 

Recipient of the prestigious Pride of Performance, multiple Nigar Awards, National Awards by the government and many other uncountable awards and world acclaims, A Nayyar enjoys worldwide fan following that began during his tour in 1978. Performing his first concert in the Middle East followed by Norway and Japan, he entertained at auspicious events and to distinguished audiences in the Far East and the West. A Nayyar is also among the fewest to have won the Baluchistan’s Bolan Awards. At the news of his sad demise, the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain in an official statement expressed that the services of late A Nayyar in the field of music would be remembered for long.

A Nayyar had been industry’s top favourite, having being picked as an ideal playback singer for the most celebrated actors like Nadeem, Muhammad Ali, Waheed Murad, and including Shaan, Moammar Rana and Humayun Saeed from the younger generation. Female playback singers found him a very comfortable co-singer to work with. During his career he sang duets with Madam Noor Jehan, Runa Laila, Naheed Akhtar, Suriya Khannam, Taranum Naz, Nayyara Noor and Mehnaz.

Upon the news of his death, the entire nation from notable personalities to those unknown helpers at record studios flourished social media with nostalgia and grief. A Nayyar’s voice will always remain alive in our hearts. While his angelic voice will forever echo in churches across Pakistan, his hip music will bring joy to the grieved, and add glee to GTs with an air of melancholy and nostalgia. Arthur Nayyar, sing in eternal peace!

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