Inspiring Change


A young Kashmiri harbors a dream of becoming a music composer. Having performed on stage with renowned music composer, AR Rehman, music is the medium he believes can transform a society and enrich a culture. Sana Fazili catches up with the budding talent.

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Zeeshan Nabi
Zeeshan Nabi

“January 13, 2013, Ameen Memorial Hall, Cuppada, Andhra Pradesh” is the date and venue which has left an indelible mark on 20-year-old Zeeshan’s life in general and his career in particular.

It was on this day that Zeeshan, a young boy from Kashmir got an opportunity to perform with the music maestro, AR Rehman. Recalling his experience with Rehman, the Oscar winning music composer, Zeeshan seems to fall short of words. “Enthusiastic” is the word that he utters when talking about the experience of practicing and performing live with AR Rehman.

“It was great performing with Rehman sir. He is a humble person despite his fame around the globe.” says Zeeshan. Going live on stage with such a celebrity has in itself been an achievement and Zeeshan, who lives in Srinagar, is looking forward to similar concerts, opportunities or platforms.

Zeeshan Nabi is presently pursuing his graduation in Music Studies from KM Music Conservatory, Chennai, which, he says, provides a complete musical atmosphere where he learns the history of various musical forms and genres and playing instruments.

Aiming to be a music composer, Zeeshan has lately been interested in painting and dancing, though he has not been in touch with dance for a while now. Music about social issues is the genre that this music maniac is especially interested in and wants to make career as a music composer.

‘Social music’ encompasses issues like political imbalance, human rights violation and the related social issues dominating the society at any point of time. “My main aim is to work as a social composer and then I want to bring Kashmiri Sufiana music to an international level and fuse it with western classical music.” says Zeeshan, sporting a typical rock star look.

Music and art is not the only thing that Zeeshan is interested in. He has tried his creativity and skill in writing lyrics in Kashmiri language. The young artist is highly fond of Kashmiri poetry and Kashmiri folk music. Taking inspiration from Kashmiri mystic poets like Shams Faqeer and Rehman Dar, he is all praise for the rich literature and culture of Kashmir.

A verse from Zeeshan’s piece of poetry in Kashmiri reads:

Rovum me aesh o aram

Ye kusu maqam nigaro

Dil heath tcholum Dil aram

Ye kusu maqam nigaroo

(I have lost all my comforts; Which place have I arrived to?

The calm of my heart has fled away taking my heart

O! Beloved? Which place have I arrived at)

Zeeshan, whose father is an engineer and his mother a doctor, recalls that he was interested in music since he was in fifth standard. “Music, art and dance were my prime interests in school.” says Zeeshan, taking a page from his school memories.

The aspiring “social composer” completed his Higher Secondary Education from Delhi Public School, Srinagar in 2012 in humanities stream. His parents seemed to have realized his aptitude for music and that is why they always supported their youngest child, Zeeshan to pursue his dream.

On being asked if his parents ever put pressure of their expectations on him, Zeeshan readily says, “No. Never. And that is why I am here today, doing what I always wanted to do and it would not have been possible without their support.”

Since 2010, Zeeshan has worked with many bands like Euphony, Ta’een and Elision, all based in Kashmir. For Zeeshan, music is a medium through which he wants to spread the messages of peace and humanity and that is why social music as a genre has interested the young ambitious boy.

In future, Zeeshan harbours a dream to work with AR Rehman whom he considers not only his mentor but an inspiration and role model. Devoting all his time and dedication to music, Zeeshan wants to make a name in the world of music by getting Kashmiri Sufiana music to an international platform and fusing it with Western Classical music is one of his many ambitions.


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