Sunday, November 07, 2010

Pakistan's pop princess


Whether you love it or loathe it, you will have to concede that Annie Khalid’s debut song Mahiya was hard to ignore. The tune not only launched her music career in Pakistan but also propelled the starlet to national fame.

The 23-year-old singer was born in Lahore and raised in Britain. “I’m from a family of four children. I have two brothers and a sister. My elder sis is married and lives in Karachi; my elder brother is also married and settled in Canada; and my little brother is in university. My mum is a housewife and dad a psychiatrist and forensic surgeon with Scotland Yard.” Regarding her education, she explains it is currently on hold. “I have not completed my degree in psychology but plan on going back to it some time in the future. As for now, I am concentrating on my music career.”

Annie was drawn towards showbusiness from a very young age. “When I was a child, I knew I loved the stage. I had figured out what I wanted to do but wasn’t sure whether it was going be in dancing, acting or music.” She recorded her first song in her late teens and had no idea how it was going to turn out. “I just did it because I’m an impulsive person and at that time that’s what I wanted to do. I thought to myself, leave the rest to God and see how it goes.”

Her first release, Mahiya, from her debut album Princess (2006), was a huge success in Pakistan and even introduced her to Bollywood. “I wasn’t expecting Mahiya to be as successful as it is today,” she says. “I am a very optimistic person. I was just happy and felt really lucky because I know how people struggle for years and are still unable to gain recognition. I did a song and it became an overnight success. I just count my blessings.”

Annie feels that she has enjoyed recording her second album, Kya Yehi Pyar Hai (2010), more than the first. “Recording my first album was a good experience, but I enjoyed the second one more because I was really involved in the album. I had full control of everything and the entire process was amazing. Writing the lyrics, getting the compositions, doing the music, making the videos — it’s all been so much fun.”

As for the criticism directed towards her, she takes it with a pinch of salt but she does appreciate constructive criticism. “If you want to be competent at what you do,” she reflects, “then you have to understand, listen, and learn from what your well-wishers, fans and critics say.”

She thinks “performing live is way more fun than recording in a studio” because it gives the singer a chance to interact with the audience, something that hasn’t been possible recently because of the situation in the country. “The current music industry situation is disheartening because we are unable to perform and do as many gigs and concerts as we used to a few years back, simply because of the political situation and safety issues. Obviously, if we have a large crowd at our shows, we have a higher risk. For that reason, people are not taking the risk, and rightly so. However, artists are suffering because they are not able to interact with fans directly. If we release a new song, we can’t really get direct feedback.”

In her spare time, Annie loves to read, spend time with her family, socialise with friends, sleep, eat and has a weakness for chocolate. If she was given the chance, she would like to play the role of Cinderella in a film because “it brings back memories of my childhood,” and collaborate with pop princess Britney Spears and record a cover version of As by George Michael and Mary J. Blige because she finds the lyrics of the song to be beautiful. Annie would have loved to meet Anne Frank because of “the struggle she went through, living in the secret annexe, so secluded and isolated from the world but still managing to enjoy every moment and loving every second of her life.” “I’ve been writing a diary since I was about eight years old,” the pop star reveals. “I write columns in my spare time but I don’t publish them. I write them for myself. Sometimes I share them with my fans, friends, and family; they love them and like the way I write. I think I have a really good flair for writing.”

Annie picks “being appointed as the Red Cross ambassador for the Pakistan flood relief” as her biggest accomplishment and says she feels “honoured to be part of such a noble organisation.” The singer has announced that she will be donating all the proceeds from her single Be My Baby (mixed by DJ Judge Jules) which recently launched her pop career in the UK, to flood victims in Pakistan.

As for her future, Annie wants to further excel in her music career at home and abroad. “I want to represent my country all over the world and make use of my fame in a positive way,” she says. Besides being a singer, Annie hopes she can start acting. “Somewhere down the line I do hope to get into acting because I really enjoy it and I’ve had my taste of what it’s like to act through my adverts, so hopefully one day.”


If I could have a super power, I’d choose…
To fly. I have these dreams where I’m flying in the air, and I would just love to have that power and be able to slide and soar through the skies and the clouds.

If I could destroy the master copy of any song so that nobody could listen to it again, I would pick…
There isn’t really any song - not mine or anyone else’s - that I loathe with a passion. If a song’s not nice I just don’t listen to it. And I would never destroy the master copy of any song because the song that I dislike might be someone’s favourite or someone might really like it and enjoy listening to it.

If the chair I’m sitting on right now could talk, it would say…
“Damn girl, you’ve gained some weight on your bum/hips!” The other day I was looking through some pictures of a recent concert I did, and I thought wow, I have gained some weight on my bum and I wasn’t really happy about it. So if the chair could talk right now it would say, “lose some weight!”

If I had to pick another career, I’d choose to be…
A choreographer, because I enjoy dancing. I’ve been into dancing and have been taking dance classes for so long; I’d love to do it professionally.

If I could go back in time, I would…
Spend more time with my grandma, because I didn’t get to spend enough time with her. I was always travelling and she was such a lovely person; I just miss her.

- Sameen Amer

The Express Tribune - 7 November, 2010

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