Ali Azmat (Urdu: علی عظمت) also known as Salman Ahmad's Papa Jani (born April 20, 1970) is a Pakistani singer-song writer, musician and actor. He is best known as the lead singer for the influential Sufi rock band Junoon and for his subsequent solo career. In 2001, he become the first musician ever to perform at the United Nations General Assembly along with an Indian band choosing to sing his song "Dosti" (English: "Friendship"), an aptly chosen title to promote the UN's mission in bringing peace to the world.
Azmat was born in Abbottabad and grew up in Garhi Shahu, Lahore. He is of Kashmiri Butt descent. He went to Sydney, Australia, for his higher studies, but soon returned to Pakistan before completing university. His first band 'Jupiters' was known for performing covers at small gigs in Lahore. While with them, Azmat wrote his legendary hit song Dosti. He later sang and recorded Dosti with Junoon, after which the song gained national fame.
Junoon formed in 1990 when Salman Ahmad, founder, songwriter and lead guitarist, had a dream where one of his teachers shook him and said "Tumhey mousiqui ka Junoon hai!" (You have an obsession for music!).12 Junoon were not an overnight success; the band members struggled for the first few years. Their self-titled debut album, Junoon, recorded at the EMI Studios in Karachi barely made a dent in the Pakistani music industry when released in September 1991.2 After the release of their debut album, Nusrat Hussain parted ways with the band to pursue his own career as a solo singer and went on to release his debut solo album Amrit in 1992.13
After the departure of Nusrat Hussain, Salman Ahmad contacted Brian O'Connell and invited him to play bass on the band's second album. Brian O'Connell quit his job as a social worker and travelled 10,000 miles to Karachi, Pakistan, where he reunited with his old friend. It was after ten years both the friends reunited.10 In 1992, the band started working on their second studio album. The album was recorded and mixed at Tahir Gul Hasan's Sound on Sound recording studios in Karachi. While working on their second album at one side, on the other hand the band also featured in a television series, Talaash, directed by Atiqa Odho and written by Anwar Maqsood, based on the true story of the band in which the band members acted themselves and due to its novel storyline it became an extremely popular television series in Pakistan.14 In 1994, Junoon started working on their third studio album. In 1995, the band released their first compilation album, Kashmakash, which is the first such compilation album by a band in Pakistan. 1995 was also the year that Junoon's manager, Shehryar Ahmad, set up Junoon's website, www.junoon.com, which was the first ever website of any Pakistani music group. That year Junoon were courted for the controversial video release of the single "Ehtesaab", from Kashmakash, which included footage of a polo pony eating in a posh restaurant. Many thought that the image was an indictment of the corrupt Pakistani political elite, and especially of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.15 The government quickly responded to it and banned the song and video from the state television.10 In 1996, the band released their third studio album, Inquilaab, which was recorded and engineered with a completely new sound at Aamir Hasan Studios, Inquilaab was a blend of western music with classical eastern Sufi music. It was the release of their third album when Junoon started to gain success and began to reach a wider audience when one of their singles, "Jazba-e-Junoon", became the signature song of the Cricket World Cup.10
Junoon's fourth studio album, Azadi, hit platinum sales for which the band received a platinum certification. The album was a huge success in South Asia, being Junoon's highest selling album. Following the success of "Inquilaab", in 1997 Junoon went on their first full-scale tour of the United States, performing from Birmingham, Alabama, to Los Angeles where they appeared at the House of Blues10 and at the New York's Roosevelt Hotel, which was reviewed in the international edition of Newsweek Magazine. They also went on tour to Canada and the UAE through which Junoon's fame grew rapidly. In September 1997, Junoon released their fourth studio album, Azadi, which was the band's first international record deal after the band manager, Shehryar Ahmad, secured a deal with EMI/Virgin Records which released Azadi as Junoon's debut album in India. Within three weeks of the release of Azadi, the album had sold over a million copies in India alone and hit platinum sales status in a record of four weeks.1016 The music video of the first single, "Sayonee", was shot by Pakistani director Asim Raza. In March 2001, Junoon released its sixth studio album, Andaz (titled as Ishq in Pakistan). The album topped the music charts in Pakistan as well as in the Persian Gulf and South Asia. The first single entitled "Zamanae Ke Andaz (Saqi-Nama)" made it to No. 1 in the Persian Gulf and to No. 5 on the Asian chart
On 23 September 1993, Junoon released their second album Talaash. Singles from the album, such as "Talaash", were politically influenced and became subject to censorship, which led to the eventual ban. In 2013, he sung 2 songs for Jism 2.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license