ISLAMABAD-When an ordinary person becomes a celebrity or enters stardom, he or she is granted a different status overnight; someone larger than life that will now be inaccessible to many and an idol of millions. The fans and admirers play a pivotal role for this award and strive day and night to get a glimpse or a scoop on personal life of the very ‘ideal’ that they created themselves. Tabloids, weekend magazines and showbiz pages thrive and hunt for news; photographs and gossip stories of these stars of showbiz world and most of the time goes overboard while reporting the truth.

“Stars from another Sky” penned by veteran maestro of Pakistan Television’s yester years, Khawaja Najam-ul Hassan, is one unique compilation on the lives of the past and present celebrities; individuals who made them celebrities and of those creative minds who worked as a team to produce all time blockbusters for Pakistan Television in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. The book does not only give the reader an opportunity to peek into the lives of the Indo-Pak film and television industry; it actually takes you behind the scene and walk the talk as these stars climb the stairs of fame and glory.

Author’s note in the beginning of the book gives a head-ups to the readers as Khawaja Najam pre-warns that ‘although I have attempted to document these occurrences in chronological order, they may seem more random to the reader as I have written my thoughts in a bit of a rush’.

In the first few pages, the reader finds stories of the early days of Najam’s career, a brief on his last production in 2018 Saaz Kahani – story of dying musical instruments – and as the leafs turn, the eyes meet celebrities of the past and present years in the likes of troubadour, actors, film stars, producers and many other legendary figures of PTV.

The book, metaphorically speaking, plucks the lodestars from the sky and places them into the readers’ home thus giving them a rare treat as they twinkle in the eyes and become part of their lives. It was only after a reading from authors narration on Madame Noor Jehan, one would know that her real name was Allah Wasai; that she loved ‘aalo ghost’ and chicken with pineapple; what was her role as a mother or a wife… moving on to her love and passion for singing, her devotion for the country that she never charged a penny for motivational songs; the melodious queen rendered during wars of 1965 and 1971 for sons of the soil. Not to mention her mannerism, persona, respect and relationship with professional musicians, lyrists and above all her mimic and wit. Khawaja Najam has spilled the beans. There are umpteen stars in the book which are introduced in a similar manner because Najam had worked with them, learnt from them and transformed many of these ordinary persons from the streets into a stars with millions of fan following.

Interestingly, the book does not only classify the glamorous personalities as stars, the authors gives due space and reverence to his contemporaries, his mentors, seniors and colleagues in the book, thus making them part of the title as well.

The dedicated pages on Aslam Azhar, Agha Nasir, Akhtar Vaqar Azeem and many other pioneers of PTV speak volume of author’s deference for his mentors. How Aslam Azhar selected him for the job in PTV; how Agha Nasir utilized his discernible talent as an ace music producer and how Muneeza Hashmi taught the tricks of the trait when she was his immediate boss is all part of the book giving due credence.

The author also talks about many super hit dramas, historical events, musical shows and interviews in the likes of Islamic Summit Conference, Lahore, SAARC Musical show, Khusro Night, Taal Matol, Taansen and PTV’s role during the war times thus giving his readers a bird’s eye view on the world of entertainment.

Haseen Moin writes in the forward, “Najam has gifted many unforgettable pieces of art to Pakistan Television. Of his own personal interests, travelling was perhaps most beneficial to Najam as it helped him discover the talent of story-telling. This book has been written for the readers to enjoy, be amazed and gain sacred insight into the world of Pakistani showbiz. Najam is an outstanding director of drama, music, stage shows, and documentaries. His knowledge about music and cinema is amazing. He is the best, among the few music and drama directors in Pakistan”.

One learns while spotting pictures of Shyam Benegal, Randhir Kapoor, Asha Boslee and veteran actress Kamini Kaushal that Khawajs sahab’s love and passion for the showbiz world was not confined to Pakistan’s performing arts only. His trips to India and meetings with icons of the Indian film industry are a verification of his obsession with the industry.

The testament page contributed by Uzma Gilani, Attiqa Odho, Tahira Syed and Asif Raza Mir aptly describes author’s je ne sais quoi in few words, “His passion for music , his love for drama combined with great skills makes him a true GURU in the field performing arts”, writes Asif Raza Mir.

Khawaja Najam has been fortunate enough to work with all singers like Madama Noor Jehan, Malika Pukhraj, Faridia Khanam, Mendhi Hassan and Nusrat Faeth Ali Khan. However, the next generation namely Tina Sani, Farehia Pervaiz, Rahat Feth Ali Khan and Nazia Hassan have also been part of Najam’s productions as well.

Similarly, his list of Thespains is no different either. The stars of 70’s and 80’s like Uzam Gilani, Asif Raza Mir and Roohi Bano, moving on to Zeba Bakhtar, Faryal Gohar, Shehnaz Sheikh and Sajid Hasan have all been the author’s co-workers. His close encounters with writers like Bano Qudsia, Akhtar Jamal, Ashfaq Ahmad and with legendry poets like Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Hafiz Jalhandari, Munir Niazi and Ahmad Faraz is a treasure trove.

Late Agha Nasir while appreciating Khawaj Najam’s work had written in the book that in the sphere of media arts no one could question Khawaja Najam-ul-Hassan’s versatility. Blessed with immense talent, Najam is creative, articulate and a man with a great sense of commitment. A large number of Pakistani vocalists own their fame and popularity to him.