He’s a commerce student who loves to sing. He has this uncanny ability to wow his audiences by belting smooth vocals on the most difficult of melodies. Syed Ali Asad Zaidi started singing early, influenced by the rock and pop cultures around him. He likes to play the guitar and his Zayn Malik-esque looks haven’t gone unnoticed amongst his female listeners. However, he didn’t always look the way we’re used to on Pakistan Idol — there’s more to Ali that people don’t know of yet.
The confident challenger
People who know Ali Asad all too well, also know that he loves to take on any challenge given to him. Although, even before he planned to come into the auditions for the show, Ali took on a challenge of his own. He saw auditioning contenders walk out of the judge’s room one by one, their sulking faces and depressing demeanour were hardly unnoticeable. None of these failed auditionees had anything better to say about Ali Azmat – the rockstar legend and Pakistan Idol judge. “He’s a tough one,” said one. “Azmat is horrible,” said another.
The auditionees awaiting their turns were frightened of Azmat’s rejection, and yet there sat Ali Azad Zaidi in one corner completely confident in himself. After all, Ali Azmat was not just a judge to him, he was and had been his idol – he had all his songs memorised. In fact, he was the reason that made him love sufi rock in the first place.
Zaidi challenged himself there and then to face the rockstar with Azmat’s own song. If Azmat disapproved of Zaidi, then only would he consider himself anything less than the perfect singer. Zaidi mustered his strengths and smiled at the scared faces of the other contenders. He knew he was better than them; he knew he had to be better than them.
Zaidi was called in to audition and he gathered and composed himself. Walking into the room, he was met with a rather sarcastic Ali Azmat. Anyone at that point would know better than to sing the judge’s own song in the room but Zaidi was adamant and after he’d checked his scale by humming, he started singing Ali Azmat’s rock band Junoon’s ‘Pappu Yaar’.
As soon as he’d started singing, Bushra Ansari and Hadiqa Kiani (the other two judges) looked sharply at Azmat. None of the singers before Zaidi made it out with a golden ticket when they chose to sing Ali Azmat or Junoon’s songs. Was there anything that made Zaidi stand out of the rest? “I wasn’t sure about this kid at first,” says Hadiqa. “But when he started snapping his fingers to check his rhythms and beats, I knew he knew the intricacies of professional singing.”
Bushra Ansari had fixated on and couldn’t keep her eyes off Zaidi’s tan shoes while Hadiqa saw diversity in Zaidi’s voice coupled with thrill in his demeanour. However, the one vote that mattered the most to Zaidi was Ali Azmat’s and as it turned out, Azmat was happy with Zaidi’s rendition of his song. So began Zaidi’s journey to Karachi with a golden ticket in hand and on his way out, Zaidi spotted those old sulking faces yet again and his smile lay witness to how great a singer he already was. So what was it that made Zaidi excel over the rest?
Ali Asad Zaidi had been singing since 2003. He has had massive success in various singing competitions. In fact, he was a part of three reality singing competitions — two of which he won and the third saw him as a runner-up. In 2013, he became a part of a reality singing competition called ‘Pepsi Smash’, a show that is sponsored by the same sponsors as those of Pakistan Idol. He was brought to the producer’s eye by a mutual friend and his fame had already reached the producers of Pakistan Idol before his Idol auditions. “We knew he was talented and we’re glad that he was selected for the show,” says one in the Pakistan Idol production team.
“Zaidi’s very much a part of the Pepsi camp,” says a media insider. “Much like all the others with the Coke camp, Pepsi can never let go of their find.” With Pepsi’s sponsorship at his helm, media pundits assume that Zaidi has a long and prosperous singing career in front of him. Meanwhile, even more challenges were abound in the upcoming rounds of Pakistan Idol.
A decade of singing
Syed Ali Asad Zaidi has been steadfast in keeping his singing career on track since the early 2000s. His foray into music led him to various reality singing competitions including participating in the first season of the Pakistan Sangeet Icon in 2008. He made it to the finals and won accolade for his performances on stage. As a result of his hard work, Zaidi produced his very first mainstream single ‘Tujh Bin’ (see below for video).
Singing in the top 24’s
Ali Asad Zaidi took to the stage with Najam Sheraz’s ‘Mainu Tere Naal’ and was applauded by the judges. Ali Azmat gave a thumbs up to Zaidi saying his performance was the best he’d heard on the show. Although, Hadiqa was reserved in her comments since she was so immersed in turmoil over the judges’ previous decisions to select Muhammad Zeeshan Ali over Kashif Ali in the previous elimination episode.
The awkward decision
In the Top 24 Group III elimination episode, Zaidi was brought to the stage with fellow contender Shahmir Aziz Quidwai. Silence filled the room and Mohib Mirza finally revealed the results. The results: Pakistan had not voted for Zaidi. His eyes filled up with tears as Shahmir jubilantly celebrated his victory. Back in the green room, fellow contestants and Anoushey awaited his arrival. None amongst the rest of the eliminated contestants could believe that Zaidi could be eliminated with the performance he gave in the previous episode — it was a clear testament to the cut-throat arena that they were contending in.
To Zaidi supporters, this came as a big surprise and some blamed the confusion between his initials ‘AA’ and his actual voting code ‘AZ’ to be the reason behind vote lags. Some claimed people didn’t like him because he was a Shia Muslim.
Nevertheless, the judges gave Zaidi another chance and he took it with open arms. Fighting with Seemab Arshad on the stage, Zaidi chose to sing ‘Bheegi Bheegi’ from the 2006 Bollywood film Gangster sung by Faruq Mahfuz Anam (aka James on stage). He certainly managed to wow the judges and was selected to be in the top 13’s.
What do you think of his chances in the finals? Vote below and comment to let us know.