ust before my first ever encounter with her, I heard her leisurely crooning to Mehdi Hassan’s classic ghazal Mohabbat Karney Waley Kum Na Hongey; she stopped as I entered her hotel room. After a formal exchange of greetings, we headed out in the sweltering Karachi heat looking forward to her cover shoot with MAG. Our conversation begins from how it all started for the young vocalist.
“I have been singing since I was seven years old,” Aima tells me. “I told my parents that I want to pursue this career but they were reluctant as nobody in my family is in this field. However, after much persuasion, they eventually agreed to it. This gave me the confidence to sing in college and university, where I would participate in similar co-curricular activities.” Nevertheless, when talking about her big break in Pakistan’s music scene she recalls her encounter with singer/composer Shiraz Uppal. “Shiraz Uppal gave me the break that changed my life completely.”
The bubbly Aima is all praises for her mentor who gave her the best break anyone entering the industry could ask for. “I met Shiraz at his studio where he asked me to audition. Initially, I thought I was only supposed to give harmonies as a back-up singer, for there were other singers present to audition as well, but later found out that all the three songs in the movie are to be sung by me including solo tracks Befikriyan and Kalabaaz Dil, which I proudly call my songs all because of Shiraz’s belief in me,” she proudly states, deeming the opportunity a reason for her grand entrance to the world of playback singing which got her the coveted Lux Style Award last year for her signature number, Kalabaaz Dil.
The Kaif-o-Suroor singer has won a total of three awards so far, including the LSA for Best Singer (Female). How did it feel to have won an award, I ask her. “The feeling is pretty indescribable. I did not even imagine winning the award because I was nominated with such established singers like Masooma Anwar and Shreya Ghoshal, so it was absolutely unexpected,” she shares, “I hadn’t prepared a speech and didn’t know what to say. Being nominated was more than enough for me. However, when I won it, I thanked God and wondered kuch tou acha kia hoga ya maa ki duayain kaam agayin. Then I thanked Shiraz for giving me a shot at playback singing,” Aima gushes about her big win.
Her first playback song Kalabaaz Dil for the movie Lahore Se Aagey was a hit last year and the warmth of her vocals was fit for Saba Qamar’s flirty performance for the number – an extraordinary combo, indeed.
Aima maybe new to the industry but has contributed her vocals for causes close to her heart. She sung an educational track Nanhey Hathon Main for ISPR and has also lent her voice for a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s Summer Wine as a charity attempt for cancer patients with Mubashir Luqman that went viral but garnered unnecessary controversy.
When asked what music means to her, Aima says, “Music is everything for me. I cannot leave music. I wonder how people who leave music survive, because once you’re into music you cannot live without it. It stays with you until you are alive and it dies with you. Music is my passion, my job, my soul partner, it’s everything for me.”
Aima wanted to sing in English and never thought she would end up singing for the local audience. However, destiny had other plans for her. “I was never into classical or Urdu music. But people here in Pakistan want something commercial; they want to listen to music in their own language. Though I’m not calling myself an angrez but everybody has their own taste in music, so did I,” she positions.
Aima tells me how she loves listening to international music and does not have a limited taste.
“I look up to a lot of American, British and French singers. I listen to all sorts of music, even the Korean band K-Pop. When it comes to music, I have no boundaries and restrictions. If I like someone’s voice, vocal texture or composition, I listen to it and simultaneously try to learn and imitate their kind of music as well. I’m more of a high-pitched singers’ fan and am one myelf,” she reveales.
Born on March 10, 1995, Aima claims to be the most pampered amongst her siblings. “I still consider myself a kid, because I have elder siblings. I’m the youngest among sisters but have a younger brother, yet I’m the one who’s treated like a kid, because they have to take care of me, considering my negligent and carefree behaviour, particularly towards my health,” she says, further boasting about the love she gets from her family. “My family takes care of all my needs. However, when my mother was alive, she was the one who would take care of me. But she passed away a few months ago because of cancer, which left me disturbed and it was then that my diet was neglected,” she gets emotional while recalling her mother’s love towards her, as she misses her presence and feels that even though sometimes life gets a little difficult without her, her family is always there to take care of her.
The cheery Aima has no plans to come up with an album, she shares, “ab albums ka zamana nahi raha”; however, she is all set to release her single once she is done with all her upcoming playback songs for various movies. “I don’t want to make my song disappear in the middle of other releases. I want to give my single proper time, so that people spend their time on it and listen to it. If I release it now, I’m afraid it’ll be overshadowed, which I dont want, as it is entirely my work.” Even though Aima did not completely reveal what she’s up to in the near future on a question that involved her working with our eastern neighbours, but she did drop hints about her expected venture on the other side of the border.
Getting both fame and recognition at such a young age can leave anyone trapped in a mesh of competition with their peers, but for Aima that’s not the case. “I have a motto that says ‘Stop running for the Congress’. It’s not the Congress that we’re running for; it’s not a matter of life and death. Music is something I want to do and I have partners in this field who share similar aspirations. For me, they are more like companions rather than competitors,” she believes. “I have a good working relationship with everyone. I jam with them whenever we get together and I have nothing against anyone in this field, no rivalries,” she declares, talking about the current influx of female singers on the music front.
I ask her if it was easy for her to survive in the otherwise competitive field of singing. “It is undoubtedly a very difficult industry. You’d rather become a teacher or a doctor then come into this field. But if you can only sing or if you can only act, then this is the only industry you choose. There are good and bad people everywhere, you just have to find your company,” she says and believes one must focus on their work at the end of the day, whether they like it or not. “I am glad that I’m a singer and don’t have to pretend, because I’m not pretentious at all. I’m pretty straightforward and blunt. When I don’t like someone or something, I don’t act like I do.”
Aima is a gifted lass and one can easily decipher that she is both beauty and brains. Has this beauty ever been struck by the cupid? “I used to be in a relationship. I am not going to say I have never had a boyfriend. However, right now I’m only committed to my work,” she discloses, adding, “I give all my time to my work because it never complains, never demands, unlike a boyfriend. It’s the best relationship I could be in,” Aima pronounces as we wrap up our conversation.
Introvert or extrovert?
Depends on my mood.
Something that keeps you going through the day?
Good skin day.
Something you cannot live without?
The song of your life?
What is the most important thing in your life?
Right now, my career.
Your favourite TV show?
Your favourite movie?
How To Be Single
Are you a foodie?
Depends on what I’m offered.
Are you a shopaholic?
A big one!
My ex-boyfriend’s diary.
The scariest moment?
Well, the departure of my mother.
Most memorable moment?
Winning the Lux Style Awards.
You’re most nervous when?
When everybody is counting on me.
First celebrity crush?
A message for your fans?
I am what I am because of them.
What do you do to unwind?
Any regrets with life?
Everyone does, so do I.
Your motto in life?
Just keep going!
Hair & Make-up: N-Pro | Coordination: Umer Mushtaq | Photography: Rohail Khalid