back Mehdi Hassan: A golden voice that transcended boundaries – 13 June 2012
‘Ab ke hum bichhade to shaayad kabhii khwabon mein milen’ (If we part now, we may meet in dreams). The world of ghazal will no longer be same without legendary singer Mehdi Hassan who leaves behind an unmatched legacy and treasure of soulful melodies.
Adored by millions on both sides of the border for his golden voice, the 84-year-old ghazal maestro, who died in a Karachi hospital on Wednesday following multi-organ failure, was one of the last icons representing the shared cultural heritage of India and Pakistan.
His demise has brought the curtains down on an era of lyricism and poetry.
An inspiration to generations of singers in both the countries, Hassan’s mesmerising voice and range made him ‘Shahenshah-e-Ghazal’ (The King of Ghazal singing).
‘Aaye kuchh abr kuchh sharaab aaye’; ‘Patta Patta, Boota Boota’; ‘Dil-E-Nadan Tujhe Hua Kya Hai’ and ‘Dil Ki Baat Labon Par Laakar’ are among the his all-time hits.
Hassan was born into a family of traditional musicians at Luna village in India’s Rajasthan state on July 18, 1927.
Belonging to the 16th generation of musicians from the Kalawant clan, Hassan received his musical grooming from his father Ustad Azeem Khan and uncle Ustad Ismail Khan who were both traditional ‘dhrupad’ singers.
He started performing at a young age and his first concert was on ‘dhrupad’ and ‘kheyal’ with his elder brother.
Hassan’s family migrated to Pakistan at the time of Partition in 1947 when he was just 20.
The family was living in poverty but despite the hardships, Hassan’s passion for music did not wither and he kept up the routine of ‘riyaz’ (practice) on a daily basis.
In an attempt to make both ends meet, Hassan started working in a bicycle shop. The singer got his first break on Radio Pakistan in 1957.