Emperor of Gazal Singing
High browed, with graceful bald and henna dyed sideburns, and a striking mole on the face, Mehdi Hassan with an imposing persona commanded reverence. Regarded as “Emperor of Gazal Singing”, he continues to live in the hearts of millions.
Mehdi Hasan traces his origins to a family of dhrupad singers known as Kalawants. His father Azeem Khan was a court singer of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Born in village Luna in Rajasthan in 1921 Mehdi Hasan received rigorous training in classical music from his uncle Ismail and his elder brother Pandit Ghulam Qadir, who became a composer in Radio Muzaffarabad later on.
After the partition Mehdi Hasan migrated to Pakistan where, to survive a hard life, he started a bicycle repair shop and practiced his music along. His life, however, took a turn in 1952 when he got a chance to sing a song on radio Pakistan. His voice was liked and he got as instant recognition for his distinct style of gazal singing, an improvisation that he achieved by bringing his experience of Rajasthani folk singing into gazal singing. It was no mean feat on his part to create a niche for himself among the stars like Begum Akhtar, Ustad Barkat Ali Khan and Mukhtar Begum. These were the names that epitomized gazal world.
Like elsewhere in the subcontinent, Kashmir also felt to his mystical voice. Mehdi Hasan brought with him a magical wave that was to stay here for a long.
Mohammad Farooq, a 42 year old owner of Music gallery at Lal Chowk remembers how Mehdi Hasan stayed at the top of popularity charts for many years. “He has been the Shehshah of Gazal in real sense. For 20 years I have been selling cassettes here and I remember what a rage he was. There are still his loyal fans that come for his gazals”.
“But times have changed now” he adds, “People’s tastes have changed. You get every thing downloaded now, you know”
Mehdi Hasan’s rising popularity soared cassette sales in Kashmir. His music drew fans from different quarters to Lal Chowk for his new collection of gazals. He reigned as a true king of music.
Mehdi Hasan also became the source of inspiration for many young aspiring singers in Kashmir. One of the most popular singers of Kashmir Waheed Jeelani says “If gazal singers of the world have learned anything about Gazal Singing it is from Mehdi Hasan”
“Gazal Singing is alive today because of him” he says.
“There are many gazal singers but his rendition, his melody and his voice is simply matchless. He has his unique style that no one can achieve”
Mr. Jeelani recollects how when he was a student he started gazal singing by listening to Mehdi Hasan. “Initially I was not able to understand the technicalities of his singing but it was a great feeling for us should I copy him at least” he says.
Ask Mr. Jeelani which is his most favorite gazal of Mehdi Hasan, and he says: “all his gazals are outstanding but the ones I keep humming and singing are: “gulon me rang baray baad e bahar chalay, chalay bhi aao ki gulshan ka karobaar chalay” And “ranjish hi sahi dil hi dukhanay kay liye aa”.
“When we sit in a musical gathering it is always Mehdi Hasan songs that people want us to sing” says Jeelani.
Another young face of Kashmiri music, Kifayat Faheem says, I grew up listening to his gazals in my childhood. His naats particularly inspired me.”
For Mr. Faheem, Mehdi Hasan is the pioneer of modern gazal singing, because “before Mehdi Hasan gazal singing was confined to studios and musical gatherings, but he endowed it with new vibrancy. He modernized the genre and brought it to the masses.”
Mr. Faheem always wanted to sing like his musical idol Mehdi Hasan and that is why when he started his singing career he would sing naats on Doordarshan copying Mehdi Hasan’s style.
Like Waheed Jeelani and Kifayat Faheem there are hundreds of singers in whose music Mehdi Hasan’s soul lives and thrives and when one sees such profound admiration and devotion for him no wonder what Lata Mangeshkar once said in the seventies: Mehdi Hasan kay galay mein to bhagwan bolta hai
Feedback at email@example.com
Lastupdate on : Thu, 14 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 14 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 15 Jun 2012 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM GK MAGAZINE
‘Dispose Of PSA Application Within 30 Days’
Srinagar, June 14: In a significant judgment, the Chief Information Commissioner of Jammu & Kashmir GR Sufi has ruled that prohibiting disclosure of any information under the Right to Information Act More
- Srinagar City
BAIG BASHES RULING PARTY; MEHBOOBA TAKES DIG AT OMAR
GK NEWS NETWORK
Srinagar, June 14: Expressing concern at “political marginalization of Srinagar”, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Thursday accused the ruling National Conference (NC) of “building personal fortune” More
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
Poonch, June 14: There was no let up today in the intermittent firing from across the border at Indian posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district. A defence spokesman More
Barsoo (Pulwama), July 14: Scores of people took to the streets in this south Kashmir village on Thursday after a lineman was electrocuted here. A lineman Gulam Hassan Dar son of Muhammad Munawar More