Mehdi Hassan: End of golden era of ghazal

IANS | Jun 13, 2012, 02.24PM IST
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Ghazal maestro Mehdi Hassan first mesmerised connoisseurs with his rendition of "Gulon main rang bhare", step one of a long musical journey that lasted five decades. The death of the artist, who gave voice to ghazals such as "Patta patta boota boota" and "Abke bicchde khwaabon mein mile", brings the curtains down on an era of lyricism, melody and poetry in light Hindustani classical music.

Born in undivided India in 1927, the ghazal singer, who passed away in a
Karachi hospital Wednesday after a prolonged illness, was instrumental in opening up the evocative world of Urdu poetry. He popularised the poetry form as a musical genre for millions of Pakistani and Indian homes in the process.

The soft-spoken man was the uncrowned king of music for Pakistan's movie industry and further raised the profile of the ghazal, once considered among elite exponents of Hindustani classical music.


According to an estimate by his son
Arif, Hassan gave voice to more than 20,000 songs and, apart from Urdu, also sang in Bengali, Punjabi and Pashto.

Some of his famous ghazal renditions include "Zindagi mein sabhi pyar kiya kartein hain" (written by Qateel Shifai); "Dekh tu dil ki jaan se uthta hai" (by Mir); "Shola tha jal bujha hoon"; "Yeh mojeza bhi mohabbat dikhaye mujhe" (by Qateen Shifai); "Abke bicchde khwaabon mein mile" (Ahmad Faraz); "Baat karni mujhe mushkil" (Bahadur Shah Zafar); Uzr aane mein bhi hai (Daagh Dehlvi).


Born to a family of Kalawant musicians in Luna village, now in the Indian state of Rajasthan, Hassan was musically baptised by father Ustad Azeem Khan and uncle Ustad Ismail Khan, who were Dhrupad musicians.


The family migrated to
Pakistan after partition and sank into penury. Eking out a living was difficult. Young Mehdi began to work in a bicycle shop and later became an auto-mechanic.

In his book "Mehdi Hassan: The Man & his Music", Pakistani author Asif Noorani has highlighted this phase of Hassan's life and written that his humility stood tall against the fame and greatness he had achieved later.