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Remembering the Voice of God Mehdi Hassan

June 13, 2012 06:45:40 PM IST
By Enkayaar, Glamsham Editorial
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World of ghazals indeed is passing through a bad phase. Last year it was orphaned on account of sad demise of the maestro Jagjit Singh and now with the passing away of Mehdi Hassan, it indeed would take a monumental effort to raise it to the exalted status. Mehdi Hassan was the father figure of ghazal singing for scores of fans who speak, understand and write Hindi, Urdu and even Punjabi. In his passing away, world of ghazals has lost one of its brightest sons.


For a generation that is now in its mid-forties and early fifties, and beyond (including those who are in seventies as well) the voice of Mehdi Hassan was the voice that was a companion in the evenings in hostels over a glass of liquor, and endless discussions into the nuances that he used to portray through his aalap, bandish, laya and sama. Many a fans warmed up to Urdu and to Persian to understand the subtle nuances of the lines of ghazals which Mehdi Hassan used to sing. After all, he sang for more than five decades and mesmerized his fans with his voice, which had an elfin charm, his career in ghazal singing starting in 1957 when he was invited for the first time to sing by Radio Pakistan.

CHECK OUT: PM condoles Mehdi Hassan's death

Such was the aura of Mehdi Hassan that when Jagjit Singh had started singing ghazals, he chose his style, probably as a tribute to the master as also to gain acceptability among the fans. Mehdi Hassan was the singer who moved the ghazals from being the prerequisite of a select few to be sung in Mehfils to a form of singing which the common man could identify with, and search for his pain and pathos through the nazms that he selected to sing.

He was the first singer who moved the ghazal singing away from being influenced and guided by thumri to having an admixture of different forms of music, rather the amalgamated form seeking inspiration from Dhrupad, Rajasthani folk etc., the underlining feature being that he allowed the accompanying music to set the course for the singing. For him his harmonium was the base to sing a ghazal, and he being an accomplished harmonium player using the harmonium as the base guided accompanying music to set the course of the ghazal. No wonder Lata Mangeshkar had conferred on him the title of "Voice of God". His was the first voice that created a bridge between the torned hearts of India and Pakistan and he paved the way for other ghazal singers like Ghulam Ali to make their mark with the Indian fans as well.

The haunt of the desert brings its own charm for the practitioners of music who trace their origin to the lands of sand. Mehdi Hassan was no exception. After all, he was born in Rajasthan but moved to Pakistan after partition. Born in Luna, he belonged to the 16th generation of the Kalawant clan of musicians who specialized in Dhrupad singing.

Among his most famous ghazals that sways fans include, 'Gule Mein Rang Bhare Baade Nau Bahar Chale', 'Jab Bhi Aatee Hai Teri Yaad Kabhi Sham Ke Baad' (among the most popular in the mehfils), 'Kiya hai Pyar Jise Humne Zindagi Kee Tarah' (which was later sung by Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh as well), 'Main Nazar Se Pee Raha Hoon', 'Patta Patta Boota Boota Haal Hamara Jaane Hai', 'Tu Meri Zindagi hai' (which was used by Nadeem Shravan in AASHIQUI), or 'Pyar Bhare Do Sharmile Nain' (which rendered most of his fans speechless, a thought echoed by one of his fans Maithili Aiyar from Berkley California, USA )etc.

As he had sung, 'Abke Bichade To Khwabo Me Mile', indeed now that the world of ghazals has lost him, but his voice would continue to create the sama in the dreams as also in the mehfils of the ghazal aficionados. Hearing the news of passing away of death of the maestro one of his fans, Alok Singh a practicing lawyer in Delhi High Court in a summon to god said "Your love for films (Shammi Kapoor and Dev Anand), music ( Jagjit Singh, Bhupen Hazarika and now Mehdi Hassan), and technology (Steve Jobs) is now beyond doubt. May we suggest that you take keen interest in Politics as well!"


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