Farewell Mehdi Hassan, the king of ghazals
Think of ghazals, the ones that leave you in a trance, the ones that simultaneously make you experience the pain of loss and the beauty of love and the ones that overpower your thoughts ó and think of the voice behind it. You canít think of anyone but Mehdi Hassan.
At the age of 12, when I despised going for singing lessons, I was almost forced to learn Hassanís Ranjish he sahi. And the lyrics..Dil hi dukhane ke liye aa. aa phir se mujhe chhod ke jaane ke liye aa did not have much meaning to me then. But Mehdi Hassan did not fail to leave a mark. I fell in love with ghazals immediately. Thereafter, I always chose ghazal over khyal and thumri.
Now when I look back I know it was Hassanís magic and not my fondness for music.
Lat week, Hassan was admitted to the intensive care unit of a private hospital in Karachi after he had trouble breathing.
Hassan, who was most popular for his Ab ke bichade, Main hosh mein tha to phir and Zindagi mein to sabhi had stopped singing in the late 80s due to illness. Gradually, he completely departed from music. But because he had given so much to the world of classical music before he fell ill, his absence was never felt.
The 84-year-old singer left us today. And itís only now that we feel his absence. The thought of not hearing Hassanís voice anymore scares me.
Born into a family of traditional musicians at Luna village in Indiaís Rajasthan state in 1927, Hassanís family migrated to Pakistan during partition, suffering from severe financial crisis.
The singer had a difficult childhood and struggled to make both ends meet. He started working in a bicycle shop before he got his first break to sing on Radio Pakistan in 1957.
Primarily a thumri singer, Hassan had to make his way past Ustad Barkat Ali Khan, Begum Akhtar and Mukhtar Begum who were considered the stalwarts of ghazal renditions at that time.
ĎThe King of Ghazalí received numerous awards and recognitions. Besides Pakistanís Nigar Film and Graduate Awards, he was awarded the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz, Pride of Performance and Hilal-i-Imtiaz. Hassan was also given Jalandharís Saigal Award in 1979.
After his last performance in India in 2000, Hassan had often expressed his desire to meet Lata Mangeshkar, Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan, but his wish of visiting India remained unfulfilled.
Ustad Hassan may not have been the popular Jagjit Singh or the unique Ghulam Ali, but for me, ghazal would mean Mehdi Hassan, possibly forever.