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Bye, Disco Deewane girl

Nazia Hassan, the bubble-gum idol who brought disco into Indian homes, passes away in London

The Disco Deewane girl is dead. Nazia Hassan was only 35 when she died in London mid-August.

The good-looking girl with the thin voice and nasal twang brought disco into Indian homes with her first album. Disco Deewane became a favourite among many young people. Her brother Zoheb sang along with her on the album, and also wrote some bubble-gum lyrics for it.

Way back in the '80s, when she had stormed the Indian music market, magazines had reported that she was fighting leukemia. She died nearly two decades later, on Sunday (August 13), of that very ailment. She lived in London with her parents.

Biddu was the man who made the tunes for her. He later brought her into the Mumbai film industry, where she sang Aap jaisa koi for the Feroz Khan hit, Qurbani.

Nazia's disco songs feature a neat orchestra arrangement on a disco beat. Lekin mera dil, one of her most popular songs, shows both her strength and weakness: her voice lacked in body but made up in expression. She could hide her musical failings by sounding silken and caressing.

Feroz Khan met her at a party in London, and her parents asked him to try her for his film. She wasn't a trained singer, but he saw potential in her voice and signed her on. Aap jaisa koi became a runaway success, beating to the victory stand other songs like Laila o laila from the same film.

Nazia's songs were mostly recorded in London. Both her first album and film song boasted recording at a 24-track studio. At the peak of her popularity in 1979-80, Nazia was just 17. Some of her later efforts, like the song Boom boom didn't prove as successful. In the late '90s, Biddu remixed a couple of her tracks with new beats, and put them on the music channels.

Nazia had consistently downplayed the cancer, telling people that it wasn't as serious as they feared it was.

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