Ghazal maestro Mehdi Hasan exits the stage
For the fans of music in Pakistan, there could have been no news bigger than the death of ghazal maestro Mehdi Hasan, who lost his battle to prolonged illness in Karachi, on June 13th, 2012. He was 84 years old and left behind millions of fans who grew up listening to his songs for the last 50 years.
Born on 27th July 1927 into a family of traditional musicians at Luna village, India, Mehdi Hasan and his family migrated to Pakistan after Partition. He worked odd jobs including working in a cycle repair shop as well as a motor mechanic during the early years but believed in his singing abilities, something that would fetch him greatness in later years.
From 1957, when he sang his first song on Radio Pakistan to the mid 90s when he last rendered a number for his fans, Mehdi Hasan was a complete singer. Trained by his parents and loved by the listeners, he was brought to filmdom in the 60s where he felt at home. Every musician of his era wanted Mehdi Hassan to be a part of their films, because he was not only versatile, but also very enthusiastic to learn in the medium.
From Nashad’s ‘Rafta Rafta’ for Zeenat to Nisar Bazmi’s ‘Zindagi Ki Raah Main’ from Aag, from Sohail Rana’s ‘Mujhe Tum Nazar Se’ from Doraha to Robin Ghosh’s ‘Mujhe Dil Se Na Bhulana’ from Aaina, Mehdi Hassan brought back these tunes to live with his amazing rendition and brilliance. Not many believe that ‘Kabhi Main Sochta Hun’ from Aaina was sung by Mehdi Hasan because the hip-hop number was a different experience for the maestro who hardly tried his hand at such compositions. But then, there was Bhaande Kali Karalo from Susral where he broke the taboo and gave a happy-go-lucky number.
Be it Mohammad Ali, Shahid, Waheed Murad, Nadeem or even Ghulam Mohiuddin, Mehdi Hassan was at ease doing playback for all. He was the voice behind the success of all these actors, alongside Ahmed Rushdi in the 60s and the 70s. Sad songs were his specialty but he was at ease with other songs and romantic numbers like Tere Bheege Badan Ki Khushboo from Sharafat and Thehra Hai Samaa from Amber speak volumes about his talent.
In Ghulam Mohiuddin’s debut film Mera Naam Hai Mohabbat, Mehdi Hasan sang as many as 5 songs, including Yeh Duniya Rahay Na Rahay Mere Humdum, which became instant hit and launched the actor to stardom. Then there was ‘Chalo ‘Yunhi Roothay Raho’ in Shararat where he was at his best, despite the track being fast and comic. His expressions were at times flawless – be it sad or happy song – and it helped the actor on whom the song was filmed do well (and look good) on screen.
It would be inaccurate to assume that Mehdi Hasan was just restricted to film songs. He made his debut for Radio Pakistan in 1957, performed regularly on Television since its inception in the 60s and went onto make a name for himself in Ghazal singing, which was restricted to a few individuals in the early days. Director Riaz Shahid can be credited for bringing the singer to films, but not before he had sung countless patriotic numbers as well, including ‘Yeh Watan Tumhara Hai, Sohni Dharti Allah Rakhay, Allah Kay Waaday Pay Mujahid Ko Yaqeen Hai and Apni Jaan Nazar Karoon,’ the last of which was his own composition for those who were fighting for their motherland in 1965.
His ghazals Ranjish Hi Sahi, Ab Kay Hum Bichre and Zindagi Ki Raah Main were hits when they were used in films, but those that didn’t make it to the movies were popular as well. He gave equal important to the kalaam of the poets he was asked to sing, and it was his amazing rendition that brought the works of Allama Iqbal, Ahmed Faraz and Faiz Ahmed Faiz to life.
Many of the maestro’s songs were even copied in India where singers like the great Kishore Kumar, Kumar Sanu and Udit Narayan tried to sing in his style. Khan sahib was awarded the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, Pride of Performance and Hilal-e-Imtiaz by the Pakistani government but his fame was not restricted to Pakistan only. He was equally popular in India and Nepal where he was received in open arms and with love, whenever he went.
He leaves behind an array of fans including his prodigy Ghulam Abbas in Pakistan, Pankaj Udhas, Talat Aziz and Hari Haran in India who imitate the maestro and admit to his greatness. Even the great Jagjit Singh came to Pakistan a few years back to meet Mehdi Hassan and perform at a charity concert for his well-being. But the best comment to the great man’s singing abilities was given by Lata Mangeshkar, the Indian nightingale who said that Mehdi Hassan had bhagwaan in his throat. Mehdi Hassan’s death has left a void that can’t be filled ever, because singers like him are born once in millennium.
Courtesy of The News International