Meeting him was going to be a milestone for the young guy, who took 2 hours to interview Junaid Jamshed that day. Every time Cricket was brought up, JJ would say ‘Koi baat nahi yaar, khel kar haray’ ‘oh koi baat nahi, agli baar jeetenge’, ‘tu tension q leta hai yar’. When it dawned to him that the person was taking an interview for the first time, JJ suggested headings, told the guy to ask certain questions and above all, encouraged him on every question.
That person was me and today I feel as if someone has shaken the very foundation of my career. Of all the people I had interviewed, met or written about, Junaid Jamshed was the least likely to have his obituary written by me; in fact in the first 5 years of my career, I interviewed him 4 times with the last interview being about his final album Dil Ki Baat that he recorded in India and released in Pakistan. When he was selecting the cover of the album, he asked me to choose from two options and when I asked what was the criteria, the reply was ‘jis main tera bhai zyada sexy lag raha ho’. That was the Junaid Jamshed I knew and admired. That was the Junaid Jamshed I will never meet again.
JJ started his career as a member of Vital Signs (Nurat Hussain/Salman Ahmed, Rohail Hyatt and Shahzad Hassan) and they were the first musical group of Pakistan; their album Vital Signs 1 (1989) was at that time the best-selling album and was followed by Vital Signs Vol 2 (1991) and Aitebar(1993). In fact, Guitar 93 made the Vital Signs more popular than any other musical group as most of their songs were shown on screen thanks to the wizardry of Shoaib Mansoor aka ShoMan.
Then there were the many appearances on TV commercials where he sang, danced and acted on Pepsi Pepsi Pakistan with his group members. When he kept long hair, his fans followed suit; when he sported a beard for a song, so did his fans and when he appeared in the Tu Hai Kahan music video with Wasim Akram, it was like a dream come true for their fans.
Junaid even acted in one of the PTV plays Dhundley Rastay (1989) which was a brain child of ShoMan himself. It was rumoured that the character played by Naseeruddin Shah in Khuda Kay Liyewas based on Junaid Jamshed but both JJ and ShoMan denied it later. His life changed after Vital Signs’ fourth album Hum Tum (1995), as they disbanded and Junaid continued his solo career that had taken place during the time when he part of Vital Signs.
Although his first album as a solo artist Junaid of Vital Signs (1994) was a hit, Us Rah Par broke all records as it became the best-selling album of the late 90s. His album’s release coincided with the arrival of CDs, Wallpapers, MP3s and above all, internet and that’s one of the reason why he became a pop icon with no equal. He did patriotic songs before the release of his next album Dil Ki Baat (2001) which proved to be his final one as he quit the industry to join his mentor Maulana Tariq Jameel in spreading religion.
I hardly met him after he turned preacher but whenever I did, it was Oye Alavi, Kaisa Hai greeting waiting for me. During our final meeting, earlier this year on the sets of ARY Ramazan Transmission, JJ instantly recognized me and asked how long it has been and I said 10 years. His reply was I never forget a face and I told him that Inshallah we will meet more often.
Sadly, I will not be able to meet him anymore, not in this world but he will remain in the hearts of all those who knew him as possibly the humblest human being you had ever met. JJ may have left this world but he lives in the hearts of all those who listen to his songs, his naats, his hamd and his lectures. He was, is and will remain part of our lives whether he is around or not. Thank you JJ for shaping our lives. May You Rest In Peace!