KARACHI: Pakistan’s legendary musician and great playback singer Mehdi Hassan Khan is commonly known as the 'King of ghazal' (Shahenshah-e-ghazal). He died today (Wednesday) after a prolonged ailment.
Mehdi Hassan ruled the film industry along with another renowned name in playback singing Ahmed Rushdi. He was honored with several awards including Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, Pride of Performance and Hilal-e-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan, and Gorkha Dakshina Bahu by the Government of Nepal.
Mehdi Hassan was born on 18 July 1927 in a village called Luna in Rajasthan, India into a family of traditional musicians.
He claimed to be the 16th generation of hereditary musicians hailing from the Kalawant clan of musicians.
He received his musical grooming from his father Ustad Azeem Khan and uncle Ustad Ismail Khan who were both traditional Dhrupad singers.
The legend began to perform at a very early age and the first concert of dhrupad and kheyal with his elder brother is reported to have been held in Fazilka Bungla, near present DC House in 1935 of Undivided Punjab.
After the Partition of India, 20-year-old Hassan and his family migrated to Pakistan and suffered severe financial hardships.
To make both the ends meet, Mehdi Hassan started working in a bicycle shop and later became a car and diesel tractor mechanic. Despite the hardships, his passion for music didn’t wither and he kept up the routine of practice on a daily basis.
The poverty-inflicted strenuous era ended when Mehdi Hassan was given the opportunity to sing on Radio Pakistan in 1957, primarily as a thumri singer, which earned him recognition within the musical fraternity. At the time, Ustad Barkat Ali Khan, Begum Akhtar and Mukhtar Begum were considered the stalwarts of ghazal rendition.
He also had a passion for Urdu poetry and began to experiment by singing ghazals on a part-time basis. He mentioned radio officers Z.A. Bukhari and Rafiq Anwar as additional influences in his progression as a ghazal singer. He is known as the best ghazal singer of all times.
Following a severe illness in the late 80s, Mehdi Hassan stepped down from playback singing. Later on due to severity of his illness, he completely departed from music.
In October 2010, HMV released "Sarhadein" in which probably the first and last duet song "Tera Milana" featuring Mehdi Hassan and Lata Mangeshkar was released.
This song was composed by Mr. Hassan himself written by Farhat Shahzad. Mr. Hassan recorded it in Pakistan in 2009, and Lata Mangeshkar later heard the track and recorded her part in India in 2010 and later mixed together for a duet.
On Wednesday (dated June 13, 2012), the great king of music particularly ghazal singing parted his way from this world, leaving his fans grieved at a private hospital of Karachi. SAMAA