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Published on 24 Feb 2009 | over 8 years ago

Mehdi Hassan, A name of a living legend which (apart from Ghulam Ali)ofcourse needs no introduction..I believe the words for his matchless ghazal & film playback singing are not enough on my part to praise this great maestro of ghazal singing but whatever few words I can write about him is for all of you to know..
Mehdi Hassan ( مہدی حسن) affectionately called Khan Sahib ( خان صاحب) and titled as "Shahenshah-e-Ghazal" (شہنشاہ غزل; King of Ghazals) is a legendary Pakistan Ghazal singer and a former playback singer for Lollywood.

Mehdi Hassan was born in the village of Luna in Rajasthan, British India in 1927 into a family of rich traditional musicians. He claims to be the 16th generation of hereditary musicians hailing from the Kalawant. Kala means "Art" and Kalawant means "artist" (in any Indian language).

He received his musical training under his father, Ustad Azeem Khan and his uncle Ustad Ismail Khan who were classical musicians, well-versed in the dhrupad style of singing. They instructed him in classical music and voice production within the framework of classical forms of thumri, dhrupad, khayal and dadra, from the young age of eight.

Mehdi Hassan started to perform at a young age and the first concert of dhrupad and kheyal with his elder brother is reported to have been held in Fazilka Bungla near Ferozepur[1]. After the Partition of India, 20-year-old Hassan and his family migrated to Pakistan and suffered severe financial hardships. To make ends meet, Hassan began working in a bicycle shop and later became a car and diesel tractor mechanic. Despite the hardships, his passion for music didn't wither and he kept up the daily routine of practice.
The struggle ended when Mehdi Hassan was given the opportunity to sing on Radio Pakistan in 1952, primarily as a thumri singer, which earned him recognition within the musical fraternity. At the time, Ustad Barkat Ali Khan, Begum Akhtar and Mukhtar Begum were considered the stalwarts of ghazal gayaki.

He also had a passion for Urdu poetry and began to experiment by singing ghazals on a part-time basis. He cites radio officers, Z.A. Bukhari and Rafiq Anwar as additional influences in his progression as a ghazal singer. They gave him ample opportunities to display his mastery over the ghazal on radio. He sang ghazals of all the renowned Urdu poets and his innovative style was soon appreciated by both masses and discerning audiences.

Hassans voice and unique performance skills in ghazal singing were unmatched in the world of South Asian music. The 60s and 70s can be named Mehdi Hassans decades, as there was hardly any hero in the Pakistani musical scene on whom Mehdi Hassans songs were not filmed.


Mehdi Hassan is universally acclaimed as the finest ghazal singer of his time. His unsurpassed vocal range and his mastery over even the most difficult of raags made him the undisputed emperor of ghazals. His popularity amongst the masses, appreciation by the masses, and continued success over five decades made him on par with Madam Noor Jehan in the league of the greatest Pakistani singers of all time. The ultimate tribute to his greatness was from the eternal nightingale, Lata Mangeshkar, who compared his songs to " voice of God " . He is the only singer whose low notes are matchless among all singers of subcontinent.

Parvez Mehdi and Talat Aziz are among his famous disciples who took his knowledge and rendition further to audiences.

Sadly, this great legend is spending the last days of his life in a misery as he has been hospitalised due to his crtical health condition. All we can do is to pray for his rapid recovery. Khan Sahib is truly the greatest asset of music.
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