indian cinema heritage foundation


  • Real Name: Anwar Hussain
  • Born: 01 February 1949 (Mumbai)
  • Primary Cinema: Hindi
  • Parents: Aashiq Hussain

The singer Anwar’s voice resembled Rafi’s so closely that many in the industry were convinced that the two were related. Though he was the proud owner of such a glorious voice, he could not garner much fame during his lifetime, and shone very briefly upon the horizon of the film world. 
Anwar was born on 1 February 1949, to the musician Aashiq Hussain, who was an assistant to the renowned music director Ghulam Haider. Growing up in a musically attuned environment, Anwar was drawn to music and vocal training at a young age. His father sent him to be trained under Ustad Abdul Rehman Khan, under whom he studied for nearly a decade. In his free time, when he sang Mohammed Rafi’s songs, he would leave people spellbound. To earn a livelihood, Anwar started performing in stage shows. Though he kept making attempts to gain an entry into playback singing for films, it was after a long struggle that he was given a chance to sing by the composer Kamal Rajasthani for the film Mere Gharib Nawaz (1973). Among other established vocalists like Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhonsle, Anwar sang one song for the film: “Kasma hum apni jaan ki khaaye chale gaye”. 
Some time passed before Anwar sang again for a film. For the 1979 release Janta Hawaldar, however, he belted out one hit after another. Songs like “Teri aankhon ki chaahat mein” and “Humse ka bhool hui jo ye saja humko mili” rivaled each other for top listings. Unfortunately, this taste of success went to Anwar’s head, and he decided to raise his rates, a move which did not sit well with composers of the time. He still received offers to sing in films like Naseeb (1981), Qurbani (1980), Dulha Bikta Hai (1982) and Vidhaata (1982), which allowed him to carve out a tentative place for himself in the industry, even though he could not become very popular. Raj Kapoor liked Anwar’s voice, and asked him to lend it for the film Prem Rog (1982), but Anwar’s insistence on his pay-scale and refusal to compromise on the same angered Laxmikant Pyarelal. Though the song “Ye pyaar tha ya kuchh aur tha” had already been recorded with Anwar, Suresh Wadkar was enlisted to sing the rest of the songs for the film. 
Like in Prem Rog, Anwar continued to sing one or two songs for films like Sohni Mahiwal (1984), Ahista Ahista (1981) and Arpan (1983). Later, he admitted that it had been a miscalculation on his part to raise his demands for remuneration. This setback meant that though he rose quickly to fame, he faded out of the spotlight just as suddenly. 
In the nineties, stage shows of celebrities became vastly popular among non-residential Indians, and Anwar kept performing in these for a while. He also received occasional offers to sing ghazals and Punjabi songs around this time. A few years ago, he released a music cassette with a selection of his songs, and can still be spotted performing in stage shows at hotels from time to time.