Mehdi Hassan: The virtual virtuoso
By Anis Shakur
Aye duniya kya tujh say kahain ja cheir na hum deewano ko
Pighli hui is Aag
may jal kar mar nay day perwano ko
Once in a lifetime, a man is born who will shake the consciousness and passion of the music industry. Such a man
is Mehdi Hassan.
Khan Saheb Mehdi Hassan was born in Luna, which is 107 miles from Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. According to a news report
he inherited music from his ancestors, who came from fifteen generations of musicians. In other words, Mehdi Hassan is the
culmination of fifteen generations of musicians. Arguably, he is the sixteenth one in that lineage.
His teachers began teaching him music as soon as he could talk. Mehdi Hassan's father, Ustad Azim Khan, was a notable
classical singer in his time.
Maharaja of Jaipur was convinced of his talents after listening to his renditions.
Mehdi Hassan started learning music at the age of six and his father was his first music teacher. At eight years of age,
Mehdi Hassan gave his first public performance at Maharaja of Barodi's place.
Additionally, Mehdi Hassan was thoroughly trained in a wide variety of vocal music like 'Dhru pad', 'Khayal', 'Thumri'
and 'Dadra'. He has really gone to the depths to master the gorgeous musical pieces as well.
Mehdi Hassan's uncle, Ismail Khan, also played a key role to groom him in different aspects of music. Thus, Mehdi Hassan
grew up surrounded by music and musicians.
He migrated to Pakistan after partition and adopted the profession of an automobile mechanic in Sargodha, Khushab. Fortunately,
for the world, after that respite, he resumed his music career.
In times due course, Mehdi Hassan moved to Karachi and started seeking work in his true love, music. He debuted in 1952
from Radio Pakistan Lahore, where he recorded the perennial ghazal, 'Guloan may rang bharay, baad-e-nau bahar chalay', composed
by Ghulam Qadir, elder brother of Mehdi Hassan.
Mehdi Hassan got his start in the Pakistani film industry, Karachi, in 1962, with his debut film song 'Meray khayal-o-khawab
ki duniya liye huay', film 'Shikar'.
Next, he recorded the ever- green song 'Jis nay meray dil ko dard diya', Riaz Shahid's directional debut film 'Susraal',
1962, composer, Hasan Lateef.
In 1962, he also rendered the renowned song 'Mujh ko Aawaz day tu kahan hai', film 'Ghunghat', director- composer- writer,
Khursheed Anwar, pictured on Santosh Kumar. 'Ghunghat' was based on the grand theme of music.
Since then, Mehdi Hassan's thinking and his future had been transformed into his unparalleled voice. It was as though
both his career and his life were charmed. Below is a song which launched him into a life of true success:
'Ik deewanay ka is dilnay kaha maan liya', Mehdi Hassan- Noor Jehan, film 'Qaidi', 1962. He reveled in a glorious new
life style, as 'Guloan may rang bharay, was re- recorded in 1964 for the film 'Farangi', composer, Rasheed Attre, ghazal,
Faiz Ahmed Faiz, pictured on Alauddin, script- writer, Riaz Shahid, director, Khalil Qaiser.
Talking of Mehdi Hassan's accomplishments, he is well known for his mastery over 'sur and 'lai'. Innumerable admirers
of this great human have a singer in Mehdi Hassan, who rule their hearts and minds through his unrivalled songs like the six
'Aye roshnio kay sheher bata', film 'Chingari', 1964.
'Qissa-e- heer waris shah', film 'Heer Sial', 1965.
'Aa kay day ja wak haion ni', film, Heer Sial', 1965.
'Lagi ray, lagi lagan meray dil mein', film, 'Jalwa', 1966.
'Meray dil kay taar, bajay baar baar', 'film, 'Payal ki jhankar, 1966.
'Khuda wanda ye kaisi Aag see jalti hai seenay mein', film, 'Lori', 1966.
As time passed by, he picked one success after another. He had a specialty in both tragic and romantic numbers. Mehdi
Hassan has been a virtuoso of music, carrying on what he called his life- long relentless excursion into practicality. He
is famous for the six splendidly recorded songs below:
'Dil-e- weraan hai, teri yaad hai, tanhai hai', film, 'Aa'ena', 1966.
'Dil diya dard liya', film, 'Lakhoan mein aik', 1967.
'Ye kaghazi phool jaisay chehray', film, 'Dewar bhabhi', 1967.
'Mujhay tum nazar say gira to rahay ho', film, 'Doraha', 1967.
'Yoon zindigi ki raha mein', film, 'Aag', 1967.
'Ab to Aa ja kay tujhay yaad kiya hai mein nay', film 'Dil mera dharkan teri', 1968.
His past performances inscribes in listeners mind a sense of humanity that is exclusively its own. Therefore, he holds
a singular place in our hearts. The song below had evoked tears even from strong men:
'Aye bay kasoan kay wali day day hamay sahara', Mehdi Hassan- Mala, film, 'Behan bhai', 1968.
It sounds incredible that Mehdi Hassan attained so much popularity in his short life span, but it is true. The audience
always gave him an enthusiastic response, which was well deserved.
Moreover, his ingenuity and artistic virtuosity won every heart. Below are six quick examples:
'Ik sitam aur meri jaan, abhi jaan baqi hai', film, 'Saiqa', 1968.
'Aye dil teri Aahoan mein asar hai kay naheen hai', film, 'Taj Mahal, 1968.
'Raqs zanjeer pehan kar bhi kiya jata hai', film, 'Zarqa', 1969.
'Aap ko bhool jayain hum', film, 'Tum milay pyar mila', 1969.
'Apnay pehlu mein meray dil ko machal janay do', Mehdi Hassan- Noor Jehan, film 'Tum milay pyar mila', 1969.
'Zulf ko teri ghataon ka payam Aaya hai', film, 'Saalgira, 1969.
So great is Mehdi Hassan's involvement and dedication to music that those who know him adore him. His ultimate excellence
was a product of total commitment and hard work over the long term. Mehdi Hassan, who was from the beginning mostly recognized
for his artistic creativity did full justice to the six songs below:
'Teri mehfil say ye diwana chala jaye ga', film, 'Dard', 1969.
'Saamnay Aa kay tujh ko pukara naheen', film, 'Dard', 1969.
'Duniya ko ab kya samjha yein' film 'Baazi, 1970.
'Tu jahan kaheen bhi jaaye, mera pyar yaad rakhna', Mehdi Hassan- Noor Jehan, film, 'Insaan aur Aadmi', 1970.
'Unhe ko dhundh rahi hai nigah-e- shauq meri', film, 'Chand Suraj', 1970.
'Jo bazahir ajnabi hum say bay ganay bhi hain', film, 'Neend hamari khawab tumharay', 1971.
Mehdi Hassan's is the music you want to live with. His singing voice has no parallel in the annals of Pakistani music.
Put another way, in the fifty-seven years of Pakistani music, Mehdi Hassan stands alone. Listening to his magical voice is
like listening to a haunting melody, which flows and ripples from a flute. His wistful voice is all the more evident in the
six songs below:
'Chal chaliye duniya dee us nukray jithay banda na banday dee zaad howay', Mehdi Hassan- Noor Jehan, film, 'Duniya paisay
'Khuda karay kay mohabbat mein wo maqam Aaye', film, 'Afshan', 1971.
'Sau baras ki zindigi mein aik pal' film 'Insaaf aur Qanoon', 1971.
'Kyon hum say khafa ho gaye aye jan-e-tamanna', film, 'Salam-e-mohabbat', 1971.
'Jaan-e-jaan tu jo kahay gaoon may geet naye', film, 'Aansu', 1971.
'Zulm rahay aur Amman bhi ho', film 'Ye Amman', 1971.
Most definitely, he brings to the song the sobering sense of a true singer. His voice carries a serene sound. It is a
sober voice. In reality, it has every thing to do with capturing ones feelings from the innermost recesses of ones heart.
When it came to songs with emotional impact, composers usually turned to Mehdi Hassan. Six examples below:
'Laga hai husn ka bazaar deikho', film 'Tehzeeb', 1972.
'Dil mein to mohabbat hai laykin kehtay huay kyun sharmatay ho' film, 'Afsana zindigi ka', 1972.
'Mera Iman mohabbat hai, mohabbat ki qasam' film, 'Naag Munni', 1972.
'Ga meray deewanay dil, is duniya say kya hasil', 'Daulat aur duniya', 1972.
'Meri wafa ka taqaza hai mujh say pyar karo', Mehdi Hassan- Noor Jehan, film 'Daulat aur duniya',1972.
'Ranjish he sahi dil dukhanay kay liye Aa', film, 'Mohabbat', 1972.
When Mehdi Hassan sings, his voice itself is an instrument, the listeners feel the music glow within them. As the public
heard his voice rise, every note was in place, warm and confident. He had been assiduously honing his craft over the decades.
Looking back over his half- century of performance, one comes across such favorites as the six songs below:
'Ik baar chalay Aao, phir Aa kay chalay jana', film 'Ek Raat', 1972.
'Phir mujhay Aap ki bahoan ka nasha yaad Aaya', film, 'Ehsaas', 1972.
'Pyar duniya kay her gham ko mita dayta hai', film 'Anmol', 1973.
'Aaj tak yaad hai wo pyar ka manzar mujh ko', film, 'Sehray kay phool', 1973.
'Mera kuchh haq to naheen hai', film, 'Zindigi', 1973.
'Mujhay kar dayna deewana, teray andaz mastana', film, 'Naya Raasta', 1973.
It was reported in the press that during Mehdi Hassan's stay in Bombay, Lata Mangeshkar visited him bare footed, and
touched his feet as a mark of respect. Mehdi Hassan lent his voice to the beautifully composed, solidly researched lyrics.
Below are six examples:
'Tu husn ki devi hai, mein hoon tera pujari, film, 'Kubra Aashiq', 1973.
'Hamaray dil say mat khelo, khilona toot jaye ga', film, 'Daman aur chingari', 1973.
'Mein jo shayer kabhi hota, tera sehra kehta', film, 'Bahisht', 1974.
'Kyon puchhtay ho kya tum say kahoon', film, 'Bahisht', 1974.
'Chalo kaheen door ye samaaj chore dain', Mehdi Hassan- Mala, film, 'Samaaj', 1974.
'Hum chalay is jahan say, dil uth gaya yahan say', film, 'Dil lagi', 1974.
Mehdi Hassan had the magic touch and he used it well. All those songs, which were recorded in the voice of Mehdi Hassan
have became the gold standard. Once the hand- written lyrics on the paper comes in contact with his hands, they are either
transformed into a master- piece song or a cherished ghazal. Hence, Mehdi Hassan is the maestro with the Midas touch. Six
'Saath hamara chutay na, yaad rahay ye baat', Mehdi Hassan- Noor Jehan, film 'Dil lagi', 1974.
'Mohabbat zindigi hai aur tum meri mohabbat ho' film, 'Tum salamat raho', 1974.
'Pyar bharay do sharmilay nain', film, 'Chahat', 1974.
'Teray bheegey badan ki khushbu say' film, 'Sharafat', 1974.
'O meri sanwali, saloni mehbuba' film, 'Shama', 1974.
'Na ghar say nikalna, yoon zulfain bikheray' film, 'Shama', 1974.
Music prodigies start honing their gifts and devote the rest of their lives to a ferocious discipline, to the exclusion
of almost every thing else. Mehdi Hassan is one of such prodigy. He is almost a perfectionist and he sang with the intensity
of a mastersinger. His dedication was absolute while recording the six songs below:
'Rafta rafta wo meri hasti ka samaan ho gaye' film, 'Zeenat', 1975.
'Sub kuchh khuda say maang liya tujh ko maang kay' Mehdi Hassan- Nahid Akhtar, film, 'Teray meray sapnay', 1975.
'Hoon haan kartay kartay', film 'Anari', 1975.
'Mera pyar teray jeewan kay sung rahay ga' film, 'Pehchaan', 1975.
'Tujhay pyar kartay kartay meri umer beet jaye' film, 'Mera naam hai mohabbat', 1975.
'Bay Iman chahun tujhay sub -ho- shaam' film, 'Jab jab phool khilay', 1975.
The love and admiration, which his fans lavish on him, is astounding. Listening to his singing voice is to experience
a wave of emotion rising from our core. Through his voice, Mehdi Hassan gave his nation the classic seventies songs. Below
are six assorted songs of the 1970s:
'Apna jeewan sheeshay ka khilona he to hai' film, 'Naukar', 1975.
'Jo dard mila apno say mila' film, 'Shabana', 1976.
'Teray siwa duniya mein kuchh bhi naheen' film, 'Shabana', 1976.
'Naam Aaye na tera pyar ki ruswaye mein' film, 'Surraiya Bhopali', 1976.
'Kabhi mein sochhta hoon kuchh na kuchh kahoon' film, 'Aa'ena', 1977.
'Mujhay dil say na bhulana' film 'Aa'ena', 1977.
The high profile reputation he had created in the beginning of his career as a vocalist has only increased in the recent
past. He is a shining example of one man making a big difference-in his case, through the power of his voice. The impact he
created through the six songs below is worth mentioning:
'Ishq sachha hai to phir wada nibhana hoga' film 'Ishq ishq', 1977.
'Naina ray naina tum he buray, film 'Ishq ishq', 1977.
'Hamari sansoan may Aaj tak wo hina ki khushbu mehek rahi hai' film,Meray huzoor', 1977.
'Teray meray pyar ka aisa nata hai', film 'Sallakhain', 1977.
'Thehra hai sama hum tum hain jahan' film, 'Ambar', 1978.
'Jis din say deikha hai tum ko sanam' film, 'Ambar', 1978.
Mehdi Hassan was never outclassed. He always remained singer number one in the eyes of music listeners. This music celebrity
had every reason to feel buoyant, as he continually strived to remain a world- class performer. The sheer brilliance of his
voice, the way he lifted it up was uniquely his own. The six songs below have become a staple of Pakistani film scores:
'Baant raha tha jab khuda saray jahan ki naimatain', film, 'Nazrana', 1978.
'Tu meray pyar ka geet hai' film, 'Aawaz', 1978.
'Jhukay, jhukay naino walay chayn mera lay gaye' film, 'Bandhan', 1980.
'Tum bhi khafa ho, loag bhi barham hain dosto' film, Khan daan', 1980.
'Yaad -e-mazi azab hai ya Rab' film, 'Aahut', 1982.
'Aaj tu ghair sahi, pyar say bair sahi' film, 'Dehleez', 1983.
The linguistic distinction between a sad song and a very tragic song may seem tiny. However, Mehdi Hassan has definitely
drawn distinction between the two of them. Six examples below:
'Tark-e-ulfat ka sila pa bhi liya hai mainay' film 'Dil mera dharkan teri.'
'Nazaroan nay bhari Aahain' film 'Naghma-e-sehra'.
'Raat ki bay sukoon' film 'Sawaal'.
'Dil bohut udaas hai' film, 'Paristan.'
'Zindigi ja chore day peecha mera' film, 'Jawab do.'
'Tum zid to kar rahay ho' film, 'Dard.'
Mehdi Hassan enjoys an exceptionally high international following. Though he retired from active singing, his myriad
of fans could not get his songs off their minds. Every adorer who has an ear for music and a strong memory of the past may
recall the enormous impact of the six songs below:
'Mehfil to ajnabi thee' film, 'Mera ghar meri jannat.'
'Bohut yaad Aayein gey ye din' film, 'Anila.'
'Jab bhi chahain ik nai surat bana lay tay hain loag' film 'Saza.'
'Hamay koi gham naheen tha gham-e-Aashiqi say pehlay' film, 'Shab Bakhair.'
'Zindigi mein to sabhi pyar kya kartay
hain' film 'Asmat.'
'Ab kay hum bichhray to shayad kabhi khaboan mein milain' film, 'Angaray.'
Mehdi Hassan's most prominent fans include the former Indian Prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpaye, Lata Mangeshkar and
Aasha Bhonslay. Mehdi Hassan performed at the residence of Vajpaye in 1978. 'Music and poetry know no boundaries.' Said Mehdi
He further said 'Jo haq Pakistan ko meri ghazloan per hai, wohi Hindustan ko bhi hai, unho nay mujhay kam pyar naheen
diya.' It is impossible to overlook the influence of his six songs below on the listeners:
'Tum hain deikhoon tumharay chahanay waloan ki mehfil may' film 'Piya Milan ki Aas.'
'Ik husn ki devi say mujhay pyar hua tha' film 'Meri zindigi hai naghma.'
'Baat karni mujhay mushkil kabhi aisee to na thee' film 'Shareek-e-Hayat.'
'Aye jaan-e-wafa dil mein teri yaad rahay gee' film 'Tasweer.'
'Dil mein to mohabbat hai laykin, kehtay huay kyun sharmatay ho.'
'Tanha thee aur hamaysha say tanha hai zindigi.'
Every adorer was moved by Mehdi Hassan's unmatched singing prowess, as they brushed tears of deeper emotion from their
eyes. Three examples below:
'Ik baar chalay Aao, phir Aa kay chalay jana.'
'Hum say badal gaya wo nigahain to kya hua.'
'Aakhri baar mil rahay hain hum.'
The national songs in Mehdi Hassan's voice captured the essence of what life in Pakistan really is about. Two of them
became the most radio- requested songs from 1965 onwards:
'Apni jaan nazar karoan, apni wafa paish karoan.'
'Allah kay waday pay mujahid ko yaqeen hai.'
Likewise, the national song below seems to catch the patriotic fervor of Pakistanis, and lifted their spirits:
'Ye watan tumhara hai, tum ho pass baan is kay.'
After receiving the 'Pride of performance' Award, Mehdi Hassan proved for the umpteenth time that he is unmatched. The
authentic legend of Pakistani music, Mehdi Hassan and his music was brought to the lime light in July 2001, when Karachi television
center presented Mehdi Hassan with a life time achievement Award.
Mehdi Hassan won the Nigar Award nine times in his career. He received six of them in a row which is a record:
Mehdi Hassan received the Nigar Award for best singer in 1964 for the film 'Farangi.'
Mehdi Hassan received the Nigar Award for best singer in 1968 for the film 'Saiqa.'
Mehdi Hassan received the Nigar Award for best singer in 1969 for the film 'Zarqa.'
Mehdi Hassan received the Nigar Award for best singer in 1972 for the film 'Meri zindigi hai naghma.'
Mehdi Hassan received the Nigar Award for best singer in1973 for the film 'Naya Raasta.'
Mehdi Hassan received the Nigar Award for best singer in 1974 for the film 'Sharafat.'
Mehdi Hassan received the Nigar Award for best singer in 1975 for the film 'Zeenat.'
Mehdi Hassan received the Nigar Award for best singer in 1976 for the film 'Shabana.'
Mehdi Hassan received the Nigar Award for best singer in 1977 for the film 'Aaena.'
His son operates a music academy in the U.S.A. Another son, Asif Mehdi, is a gifted singer as well. Mehdi Hasan has been
one of the most dominant forces in Pakistani show business for five decades. Apparently, he is the greatest vocalist to exultant
Though he has stopped singing, his past performances speaks volumes nonetheless. Unfortunately, he is not feeling well
nowadays. The government of Pakistan has agreed to bear all his medical expenses.
Over and above, Mehdi Hassan's songs and ghazals will always remind us of the
spirit of renewal and adventure that is the core of our national heritage.