Famous Pakistani singer Mahnaaz, while talking about her distinguished career on the Pakistan Television Network (PTV), said that her first song’s music had been given by none other than music director Niaz Ahmad. She then sang his composition ‘Kajra Ri Akhion Main Nindiya Na Aaye’, a thumri style song.I too am a witness of Ahmad’s style of music compositions, as I sang three of his songs in the PTV show ‘Khush Rang’.But what I did not know of the music director was that he was an excellent harmonium player as well that is until I witnessed his playing prowess in one of Amjad Hussain Shah’s show ‘Mehfil-e-Shab’, that used to be broadcasted from the PTV Karachi Center.Even more impressive is the fact that Ahmad was a very able singer on par to the likes of Ustad Nazar Hussain. Not many music composers can sing well. His rendering of the ghazal ‘Teri Nazar Hei Mera Dil Kaya Kiya Jaye’ by Saba Akbarabadi in producer Arif Rana’s PTV programme ‘Sada-O-Saaz’ hosted by Dr Khalid Saeed Butt proved his singing prowess. From the presence of Ajmal on tabla and Raees on violin, I can safely speculate and state that it was an Islamabad Centre production.Ahmed is ranked among the finest music directors of Pakistan, having composed for the likes of Madam Noor Jehan, Mehdi Hassan and Ghulam AliAhmed is ranked among the finest music directors of Pakistan, having composed for the likes of Madam Noor Jehan, Mehdi Hassan and Ghulam Ali. He belongs to the ‘Kirana Gharana’ and was groomed by his uncle, Ustad Maulana Abdus Shakoor Khan. In the picture below, the maestro performs a thumri and is accompanied by Sajid Ali on the tabla. The performance was part of a concert organised by the Lahore Music Forum at the Manzar Akbar Hall, Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi, on 6th April 2013.Khursheed Hyder reported in Karachi’s local daily on February 15, 2015, that after singer Muhammad Ali Shehki became popular in producer Shoaib Mansoor’s PTV programme ‘Jharney’ in 1970s, a year passed with no further offers from the national network. Then Ghazanfar Ali, an apprentice producer, invited him to sing a ballad-type westernised song by composer Ahmad in the ‘Tara Ghansham’ show. Ahmad has therefore proved his versatility by composing thumri-oriented songs, ghazals and pop songs, with equal ease.Bakhtiar Ahmad, a senior and versatile producer (now retired) of the Pakistan Television Corporation, boasts of his 47-year-old friendship with Ahmad. The main reason that he admires the music director is because “Ahmad he did what he believed in as far as the art of music compositions is concerned”. Ahmad respected his contemporaries’ individual styles. This was the era of great music composers like Khwaja Khursheed Anwar, Feroze Nizami, Master Ghulam Haider, Rasheed Attre, Nisar Bazmi, Baba Chishti, Hassan Latif Lillak, Ustad Nazar e Hussain, Master Manzoor, Altaf Hussain, Ashiq Hussain, Rafiq Ghaznavi, Mehdi Zaheer, Robin Ghosh, Muslehuddin, Safdar Hussain, A Hameed, Mian Shehryaar, Wazir Afzal, Master Abdullah, Akhtar Hussain Akhian, Khalil Ahmad, Suhail Rana, Karim Shahabuddin, Wajahat Attre, Nazir Ali, M Ashraf, Deebu Bhattachariya, Lal Muhammad Iqbal, Master Rafiq Ali and other notable names.According to Bakhtiar Saheb, he had seen Ahmad eyes going wet while listening to master Abdullah’s tune ‘Ve Tun Auna Si Tu Nahi Aaya’ by Nurjehan. or appreciating Master Manzoor’s tunes. Ahmed is so honest that instead of selling his own expertise; he is often seen recommending other music composers he liked. That indicates his graciousness. Bakhtiar Ahmad stated that when he disclosed to Ahmad that he had assigned the task of music compositions to Nisar Bazmi for a Pak-China Production, he fully supported the idea. When I sang a Ghazal ‘Dei Gaya Dard Besabab Koi’ by Zia Jallundhri in PTV’s programme ‘Khush Rang’ I witnessed him going forward when the asthai finished with a sarangi interlude and joining It backwards from the note where antara started with Sitar interlude. It was an amazing experience for me to witness his technique of making instrumental interludes. He stated that he was influenced by Indian music composer Khayyam far as melody content is concerned.As Ahmad is a good singer himself, while rehearsing with a singer, he sings all the details of the tune with its zamzamas and murkis to perfection. Singers have to work hard to satisfy him as far as perfection of rendering is concerned.Album ‘Kehna Usse’: Ahmad’s master piece is Mehdi Hassan’s album ‘Kehna Usse’ of poet Farat Shahzad’s ghazals. His ghazal ‘Daikhna Unka Kan Ankhion Sei’ is a tuneful production. The ghazal ‘Kaya Toota Hei Ander Ander Kyun Chehra Kumjlaya Hei’ went viral when released and is composed in Raag Aimen Kalyan. Another beauty of the album is ‘Keha Usse is Sab Kei Dil Main Rehta Par Dil Ka Aangan Khaali Hei”. The interludes are played on the sitar. The Ghazal ‘Komplain Phir Phoot Aaein Saakh Pei Kehna Usse’ forms the title of this album.Presently, Ahmad is residing in Lahore after spending a lifetime in Karachi. He was awarded the President of Pakistan’s Civil Award Pride of Performance in 2014.Published in Daily Times, September 14th 2018.