Dubai: He was known as the ‘walking singer’ of stage shows in the 1980s in the South Indian state of Kerala. In the 1990s, he became the man who organised the debut Dubai shows of popular Bollywood singers Sonu Nigam, Mohit Chauhan and the likes.
After almost of 20 years of hiatus due to his professional commitments, Indian lawyer Musthafa Zafeer O.V, is now back in the showbiz to celebrate 40 years of his musical journey. Founder and chairman of Musthafa and Almana, a Dubai-based global consulting and advisory firm, he released a music video on YouTube this week, dedicated to his mentor and legendary Hindustani classical vocalist Ustad Gulam Mustafa Khan, who was a recipient of the Government of India’s Padmabhushan award.
Musthafa has made the comeback in the music industry during the COVID-19 pandemic with the cover version of the popular Hindi song “Pyar manga hai” originally sung by Bollywood legend Kishore Kumar. With music arranged by Mithun Jayaraj, the song was filmed and directed by Sachin Ramdas at Musthafa’s home in Dubai. “When I met my Ustad last November, he asked me to sing again for the public. That’s why I decided to do this music video as a tribute to him. It also marks 40 years since I first sang at a public function during my college days,” Musthafa told Gulf News. “Getting a chance to interact with and be close to a legend like him itself is a big blessing. I feel so proud and privileged to have studied music from him for about three years,” he said about his mentor.
More than 400 stage performances
Recollecting how his singing talent had made him a regular member of stage shows in Kerala in his younger days, Musthafa said he was lucky to have performed along with the big names in the South Indian film industry. After performing in over 400 stages including in the Gulf countries, he said he had collaborated with noted music composer in the Malayalam film industry A.T. Ummer and others to form a troupe called Music Promoters India.
Sonu Nigam show
Gradually, he started organising shows in Kerala and abroad. “It was in 1996 that I directed, produced and participated in the first Dubai show of Sonu Nigam. It was called SaReGaMa ’96. Sonu sang about a dozen songs. I sang four solos and a duet with a female singer,” he recollected.
It was when he came to Dubai for the stage shows that he realised the potential to practice law in the UAE as well. “After Sonu’s show, I stayed back for two weeks and gave some proposals to the local legal firms.” Subsequently, he entered into a joint venture with one of them and landed in Dubai in June 1997 to set up his legal office here.
Championing community causes
Within weeks, Musthafa hit the headlines in the UAE with various initiatives and active involvement in community affairs. “I remember the first story that Gulf News wrote about me was on offering legal services in property issues back home to Keralites in the UAE,” said Musthafa.
He recollected being among those on the forefront of a campaign seeking the withdrawal of the Calicut Airport User’s Fee. “Gulf News played a big role in that by running a series of reports highlighting the expats’ concerns. We used those newspaper clippings as part of the documents submitted in the Kerala High Court and stayed the move to levy user’s fee from passengers to the airport which catered to a large section of the Malayali expats.” He was also instrumental in pushing the Indian government to standardise the fee for consular services at the Indian missions under the Diplomatic and Consular Officers (Oaths and Fees) Act.
Though he took a long break from doing public events to build his international legal empire along with his wife Almana, who is also a lawyer, Musthafa said he had been in constant touch with many of his contemporaries in the music industry.
While providing legal service related to the music industry is something that he has been continuing as part of his profession, Musthafa said he now aims to connect artists in the UAE and back home to support the musicians, especially those who are part of the orchestra, to tide over the financial crisis that has hit them due to COVID-19 pandemic.