The cross-border situation worsened and Azhar's plans with his record company, Universal Music India came to a halt.
The cross-border situation worsened and Azhar's plans with his record company, Universal Music India came to a halt.

The ongoing cross-border conflicts between India and Pakistan have lead to many repercussions – and one of them was that a brand new single by Asim Azhar was delayed from release.

“I had recorded the single and had gone to Sri Lanka and shot a beautiful video for it with Tanishk Bagchi, who is one of the most successful music video producers in India. My team at Universal Music India and I were planning the release when the cross-border situation suddenly worsened,” says Asim.

“We decided to wait it out until things improved. But that just didn’t happen. Now, we have come to terms with the fact that it may take considerable time before Indo-Pak relations become more peaceful.”

For Asim, this was a conundrum primarily because the record label that he had signed up with was Indian: Universal Music India.

“I have never worked with any other label and I consider myself lucky to have had signed up with them,” says the singer. “They are an amazing team to work with and incredibly supportive.”

“We had a schedule planned out. We were going to release singles throughout the year and then perhaps wrap up the year with the release of an album.”

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But neither Asim nor his record company could do anything as tensions escalated. In the meantime, Asim recorded a song for the movie Superstar: ‘Ghalat Fehmi’.

The song became so popular that when Asim accompanied the movie’s cast for a pre-release promotional appearance, the audience began to sing the song along with him.

“God has been very kind to me. ‘Ghalat Fehmi’ was a hit and now I am concluding this year with a concert tour across Pakistan as well as some shows in the U.S.”

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It is, in fact, during the course of this tour that I am talking to Asim. He is traveling down the motorway from Faisalabad to Lahore and quite literally rasping on the phone as he talks to me – the back-to-back concerts have wreaked havoc on his voice.

The concerts have been doing very well – images on social media show Asim performing to large, enthusiastic audiences – and yet, only earlier this year, Asim had experienced moments of anxiety and self-doubt.

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“It was frustrating, waiting for the political situation between India and Pakistan to get better so that my singles could release,” he recalls. “There was nothing that could be done. My music is my way of expressing myself and I felt as if I was caged. I was really down and then, I decided let these emotions out by creating more songs. I think that I have about 20 to 40 songs that are partially or completely ready now.”

“I just now know, through whatever I have experienced in my life, that all you need is self-belief and awareness of your capabilities and then, there’s no stopping you. How you ultimately do in life depends entirely on your mind. It’s very important to think positively.”

“And there’s a time for everything. Perhaps my singles just weren’t meant to release according to how I had planned. I ended up working on other projects in the meantime. I have been interacting with audiences these days, performing live, and the response that I have been getting is amazing.”

Asim will no longer be relying on Indo-Pak relations for the release of his next few songs. His record company and he have mutually decided that for the time being, he would release his music independently.

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When can we expect the release of a new single? “I’d love to aim for this year but I am quite busy with concerts. It may be a little later.”

Also hanging in the balance is a song that he composed and sang for a major Bollywood movie that is going to be releasing early next year.

“It was going to be my Bollywood debut but now I am not so sure. They may not use the song at all or they may just have an Indian singer sing it, giving me credit only as a composer. It’s all right. These things happen.”

These things especially do happen when India and Pakistan hang in the balance. With Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s song having just gotten removed from the soundtrack of Salman Khan’s upcoming Dabangg 3, there’s a chance that Asim’s Bollywood song will meet the same fate. But cross-border relations can’t be allowed to halt an artiste’s career.

They certainly aren’t stopping Asim Azhar. That’s good to know.

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