Mehdi Hassan dies
The two sisters from Kullhapur - Lata Mangeshkar and Aasha Bhosle - are said to be deeply and profoundly saddened - like millions of others - by the death of great mastero, Shahanshah-e-Ghazal, Ustad Mehdi Hassan, who breathed his last in Karachi yesterday after a prolonged illness. He was 84. Born into a family of classical singers of Rajisthan in 1927 Mehdi Hassan did not take long to establish his credentials as a man who was destined to dominate the world of melody and music. Schooled by his father Ustad Azeem Khan and uncle Ustad Ismail Khan, he gave his first performance at the age of 12 when he mesmerised the audience along with his brother in Khayal, which is the most popular vocal style in Indian classical music, offering the artist great flexibility for improvisation. After migration to Pakistan his family settled in the city of Chiniot where a boatman still vividly recalls how young Mehdi Hassan perfected his art of singing in resonance with the rise and fall of waves buffeting the boat in River Chenab. It was in 1957 that the Radio Pakistan gave him an opportunity to perform, primarily, as a thumri singer. But his Gulon Mein Rung Bharay, sung in 1962, was the first clear signal that a maestro had arrived on the scene. His hit song Ranjish Hi Sahi, composed by Nisar Bazmi some 40 years ago, hasn't lost a bit magic to transport one to his world long lost. If Mehdi Hassan was great ghazal crooner his patriotic songs would keep inspiring generation after generation of Pakistanis. Yeh Watan Tumhara Hai is as much need to be sung in unison to dispel despondency and ignite hope in our increasingly gloomy world as never before. Following a serious illness in the late 1980s, he stepped down from playback singing. The fact is that unlike many other singers, poets, artists from many other disciplines and men devoted to literary and scholarly activities Mehdi Hassan received due recognition of the state and was bestowed with many honorific titles and awards. But now that he's no more amongst us we need to keep alive his matchless art of ghazal singing. One way to do that would be that the government should establish a Mehdi Hassan chair in a prominent university and also institute an annual award to encourage young singers in the classical and semi-classical fields. But no ray of sunshine could reach his admirers' hearts, no breeze could freshen them; and nothing could fill the void his exit from the world of music has left.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2012