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BANNER

15 June 2012

The Voice of God

18.07.1927 - 13.06-2012
...that was how Lata Mangeshkar described him. Born on July 18, 1927, Mehdi Hassan Khan received his early music training from his father Ustad Aseem Khan and his uncle Ustad Ismail Khan. Originally singing Dhrupad, Khayal and Thumri, he is best known for popularising the ghazal.* This Pakistani singer, whose songs have mesmerised generations across borders for five decades, passed away day before yesterday. His songs live on, testimony to his great talent.

Born in undivided India (birthplace: Luna, Rajasthan) into a family of musicians, the family, like many others, were displaced during the Partition, and eventually settled down in Pakistan. Forced by circumstances to become a bicycle and auto mechanic, the young Mehdi Hassan never forgot his riyaaz. It was in the 50s that he moved to Lahore, singing on radio and for films. In one of his later televised interviews, he credits Noor Jehan with having taught him how to 'playback'.

I do not know enough about ghazals  to make a knowledgeable commentary, but, like many people, I know what I like to listen to. So, in memoriam: From a person who likes to listen to music because she loves music, and would like to keep it that way without having to analyse the whys and wherefores too much; here, in no particular order, are some of Mehdi Hassan's renditions that I have liked over the years. Sometimes, the lyrics resonate. Sometimes, it is the music. Sometimes it is both. But above all, I have always liked his voice. Whether they are the 'best' renditions of that particular ghazal or whether another artiste has sung it better - these are discussions I will leave to the experts. 

1. Gulon mein rang bhare baad-e-naubahar chale (Faiz Ahmed Faiz) 

gulo.n me.n rang bhare, baad-e-naubahaar chale
chale bhii aao ki gulshan kaa karobaar chale

qaffas udaas hai yaro, sabaa se kuchh to kaho
kahii.n to bahr-e-Khudaa aaj zikr-e-yaar chale

kabhii to subh tere kunj-e-lab se ho aaGaaz
kabhii to shab sar-e-kaakul se mushkabaar chale

ba.Daa hai dard kaa rishtaa, ye dil Gariib sahii
tumhaare naam pe aaye.nge Gam_gusaar chale

jo ham pe guzarii so guzarii magar shab-e-hijraa.N
hamaare ashk terii aaqabat sa.Nwaar chale

huzoor-e-yaar huii daftar-e-junuu.N kii talab
girah me.n leke garebaa.N kaa taar taar chale

maqaam 'Faiz' koii raah me.n jachaa hii nahii.n
jo kuu-e-yaar se nikale to suu-e-daar chale


2. Ranjhish hi sahi (Ahmed Faraz) 

Ranjish hii sahii dil hii dukhaane ke liye aa
aa phir se mujhe chho.D ke jaane ke liye aa

Pehle se maraasim na sahii phir bhii kabhii
to rasm-o-rahe duniyaa hii niibhaane ke liye aa

Kis kis ko bataaye.nge judaa_ii kaa sabab ham
tuu mujh se Khafaa hai to zamaane ke liye aa

Kuchh to mere pindaar-e-muhabbat ka bharam rakh
tuu bhii to kabhii mujh ko manaane ke liye aa

Ek umr se huu.N lazzat-e-giriyaa se bhii maharuum
ai raahat-e-jaa.N mujh ko rulaane ke liye aa

Ab tak dil-e-Khush_faham ko tujh se hai.n ummiide.n
ye aaKhirii shamme.n bhii bujhaane ke liye aa

3. Patta patta boota boota (Mir Taqi Mir) 

Pattaa-pattaa buuTaa-buuTaa haal hamaaraa jaane hai
jaane na jaane gul hii na jaane, baaG to saaraa jaane hai

Lagne na de bas ho to us ke gauhar-e-gosh ke baale tak
us ko falak chashm-e-mai-o-Khor kii titalii kaa taaraa jaane hai

Aage us mutaqabbar ke ham Khudaa Khudaa kiyaa karate hai.n
kab maujuud Khudaa ko vo maGaruur Khud-aaraa jaane hai

Aashiq saa to saadaa koii aur na hogaa duniyaa me.n
jii ke ziaa.N ko ishq me.n us ke apanaa vaaraa jaane hai

Chaaraagarii biimaarii-e-dil kii rasm-e-shahar-e-husn nahii.n
varnaa dilabar-e-naadaa.N bhii is dard kaa chaaraa jaane hai

Kyaa hii shikaar-farebii par maGaruur hai vo sayyad bachchaa
ta'er u.Date havaa me.n saare apanii usaaraa jaane hai

Mehar-o-vafaa-o-lutf-o-inaayat ek se vaaqif in me.n nahii.n
aur to sab kuchh tanz-o-kanaayaa ramz-o-ishaaraa jaane hai

Kyaa kyaa fitane sar par usake laataa hai maashuuq apanaa
jis bedil betaab-o-tavaa.N ko ishq kaa maaraa jaane hai

Aashiq to murdaa hai hameshaa jii uThataa hai dekhe use
yaar ke aa jaane ko yakaayak umr do baaraa jaane hai

RaKhano.n se diiwaar-e-chaman ke muu.Nh ko le hai chhipaa ya'ani
un suraaKho.n ke Tuk rahane ko sau kaa nazaaraa jaane hai

Tashnaa-e-Khuu.N hai apanaa kitanaa 'Mir' bhii naadaa.N talKhiikash
dam_daar aab-e-teG ko us ke aab-e-gavaaraa jaane hai 


4. Ab ke hum bichde (Ahmed Faraz)
Ab ke ham bichha.De to shaayad kabhii Khvaabo.n me.n mile.n 
jis tarah suukhe hue phuul kitaabo.n me.n mile.n

Dhuu.NDh uja.De hue logo.n me.n vafaa ke motii 
ye Khazaane tujhe mumkin hai Kharaabo.n me.n mile.n 

Tuu Khudaa hai na meraa ishq farishto.n jaisaa 
dono.n insaa.N hai.n to kyo.n itane hijaabo.n me.n mile.n 

Gam-e-duniyaa bhii Gam-e-yaar me.n shaamil kar lo 
nashaa ba.Dataa hai sharabe.n jo sharaabo.n me.n mile.n 

Aaj ham daar pe khe.nche gaye jin baato.n par 
kyaa ajab kal vo zamaane ko nisaabo.n me.n mile.n 

Ab na vo mai.n huu.N na tu hai na vo maazii hai `Faraaz',
jaise do shaKhs tamannaa ke saraabo.n me.m mile.n 

5. Garmii-e-hasrat-e-nakam se jal jaate hai (Qateel Shifai) 

Garmii-e-hasarat-e-naakaam se jal jaate hai.n
ham charaaGo.n kii tarah shaam se jal jaate hai.n

Bach nikalate hai.n agar aatih-e-sayyaad se ham
sholaa-e-aatish-e-gulafaam se jal jaate hai.n

Khudanumaa_ii to nahii.n shevaa-e-arabaab-e-vafaa
jin ko jalanaa ho vo aaraaam se jal jaate hai.n

Shamaa jis aag me.n jalatii hai numaa_ish ke liye
ham usii aag me.n gumanaam se jal jaate hai.n

Jab bhii aataa hai meraa naam tere naam ke saath
jaane kyuu.N log mere naam se jal jaate hai.n

Rabtaa baaham pe hame.n kyaa na nahe.nge dushman
aashanaa jab tere paiGaam se jal jaataa hai
 

6. Aaj tak yaad hai woh

This may be a 'pop ghazal' that has the purists up in arms, but there is a melding of lyrics and melody that makes it hard to resist. It is from a Pakistani film called Sehra ke Phool. 

Aaj tak yaad hai woh pyar ka manzar mujhko
jis ki tasveer nigahoon main liya phirta hoon  


Chandni raat mein aanchal ka sahara lekar
har qadam par rukh-e-rangeen ka nazara lekar 


Shokh nazron ko jhuke meri jaanib aana
khauf-e-ruswaii se uth uth ke qadam ruk jaana  



7. Ek baar chale aao  
I liked this for its simplicity more than anything else. 


8. Aaye kuch abr kuchh sharaab aaye (Faiz Ahmed Faiz) 

Aaye kuchh abr kuchh sharaab aaye
us ke baad aaye jo azaab aaye

Baam-e-miinaa se maahataab utare
dast-e-saaqii me.n aaftaab aaye

Har rag-e-Khuu.N me.n phir charaaGaa.N ho
saamane phir wo benaqaab aaye

Umr ke har waraq pe dil ko nazar
terii meher-o-wafaa ke baab aaye

Kar rahaa thaa Gam-e-jahaa.N kaa hisaab
aaj tum yaad behisaab aaye

Na gaii tere Gam kii saradaarii
dil me.n yuu.n roz inqalaab aaye

Jal uThe bazm-e-Gair ke dar-o-baam
jab bhii ham Khaanamaa.N_Kharaab aaye

Is tarah apanii Khamashii guu.Njii
goyaa har simt se jawaab aaye

'Faiz' thii raah sar basar ma.nzil
ham jahaa.N pahu.Nche kaamayaab aaye

9. Daayam pada hua tere dar par (Mirza Ghalib) 

Daayam pa.Daa huaa tere dar par nahii.n huu.N mai.n
Khaak aisii zindagii pe ke paththar nahii.n huu.N mai.n

Kyuu.N gardish-e-mudaam se ghabaraa na jaaye dil
insaan huu.N, pyaalaa-o-saaGar nahii.n huu.N mai.n

Yaa rab! zamaanaa mujh ko miTaataa hai kis liye
lauh-e-jahaa.N pe harf-e-mukarrar nahii.n huu.N mai.n

Had chaahiye sazaa me.n uquubat ke waaste
aaKhir gunaahagaar huu.N, kaafir nahii.n huu.N mai.n

Kis waaste aziiz nahii.n jaanate mujhe
laal-o-zumaruud-o-zar-o-gauhar nahii.n huu.N mai.n

Rakhate ho tum qadam merii aa.Nkho.n se kyuu.n dareG
rutabe me.n mahr-o-maah se kamatar nahii.n huu.N mai.n

Karate ho mujhako manaa-e-qadam_bos kis liye
kyaa aasmaa.N ke bhii baraabar nahii.n huu.N mai.n

'Ghalib' wazifaa_Khwaar ho, do shaah ko duaa
woh din gaye ki kahate the "naukar nahii.n huu.N mai.n"

This was not going to be my next post. Indeed, I had no intention of posting one so soon. But Ustad Mehdi Hassan saab's music has given me hours and hours of listening pleasure, and it was unthinkable that I let his demise pass by without paying even a nominal tribute.

Since I cannot think of anything more befitting a man of his stature than the tribute paid to him by an artiste of equal standing, let me end with Lata Mangeshkar's words: "Ghazal gaayki ke kshetra mein unhone bahut bada parivartan laaya, aaj unke jaane se ghazal ki bohot badi haani hui hai, ab un jaisa kalakar phir se aana mushkil hai.” (He had brought about many changes to field of ghazals. Today, the ghazal faces a huge loss due to his demise. It is difficult to find another artiste like him.)


Rest in peace, Mehdi Hassan Khan.

*The simplest description of a ghazal is that it they are rhyming couplets, each line sharing the same meter. The couplets, each one completing a thought, may or may not have anything to do with each other other than their rhyme pattern.

**All poems have been sourced from urdupoetry.com.

19 comments:

  1. RIP Mehdi Hassan!
    I must admit, I know only little of Mehdi Hassan's creations, one of them is: ranjish hi sahi and  it always manages to move me!
    Thank you, Mehdi Hassan!

    ReplyDelete
  2.  The only reason I began listening to ghazals was because my father had a wonderful collection of them. I still don't know too much about how to differentiate between the various genres.

    My liking for Mehdi Hassan came much later though I prefer his earlier renditions. They were much simpler, without all the sho-sha of the later concerts.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm so glad you've done this post, Anu.
    RIP Mehdi Hassan Saab. We'll remember your beautiful voice and singing beautiful ghazals.

    Like you, Anu I too 'know' what I like when I listen without really knowing the analytical characteristics of the ghazals.

    I loove Ranjish hi sahi. Such anguish!! This is one example of where everything was great - the voice, the tune, and above all the lyrics.

    Patta Patta Boota Boota - I first first heard this in Ek Nazar.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DE0uzWZeXc

    I was happy to hear his Mirza Ghalib ghazal.

    ReplyDelete
  4.  Thanks, pacifist. I too heard Patta patta boota boota in the film first. Apart from Ranjhish hi sahi, one of the other ghazalsI liked was Khuda kare ke muhobat mein ye makaam aaye though I found the music annoying.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Same here - I heard Patta patta boota boota in the film first. And (like Harvey), I must admit I haven't heard too many of Mehdi Hassan's work, besides Ranjish hi sahi, which is simply heavenly. His rendition is my favourite of all I've heard.

    Lovely tribute, Anu. RIP, Hassan Sahib.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Apt tribute. I guess there are several people who were introduced to Faiz via Mehdi saaheb, and the converse is probably equally true. A few days ago, I ws listening to this rather playful rendition of a lighthearted verse.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZVg_q-pxU8&feature=related

    ReplyDelete
  7.  Thanks, AK. In my case, it was the converse. I was first introduced to Urdu poetry and mushairas, long before the ghazal craze hit in the 80s.

    ReplyDelete
  8.  It was strange, you know, Madhu. Even after I began listening to ghazals, Mehdi Hassan was not my favourite singer. I began to appreciate him much later.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Good one, Anu. He's given us so many moments of music. May his soul get a much higher quality wherever he is. RIP Mehdi Hassan saab....

    ReplyDelete
  10.  Indeed, Shashi. Lots of listening pleasure. RIP.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Chitrapatsangeet18 June 2012 at 04:54

    Mehdi Hassan is immortal. He is the best when it comes to ghazals. I have so many choices, which would fill up the entire page,but these two is particularly close to my heart. What a voice!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-N3SxLM9hkc 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n9KTP4XHqQ  (great lyrics- 
    "EK bas tu hi nahin mujhse khafa ho baitha
    Maine jo sang tarasha, woh khuda ho baitha"

    ReplyDelete
  12.  Kkarthik, Ek bas tu hi nahin is a particular favourite. Can't think how I came to miss that one. Thanks for posting the link.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Lovely post. Just thought Baat karni mujhe mushqil kabhi aisi to na thi woud have made the list complete.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cms-ektlKyc

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for the compliment, AK, and for listing this ghazal. I have been trawling YouTube for his ghazals and am coming to the conclusion that there are so many that I would have loved to include. It's so difficult to decide what to leave out.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you for this excellent tribute to Mehdi Hassan (and I don't know why I didn't see it sooner!). I had started a tribute post to him, but I confess that I was exhausted after a hectic week, and considering that I am not as versed in the music of Mehdi Hassan as that of some other legendary Pakistani singers, I felt that I was not really up to the task. But this post is! Regarding "Gulon Mein Rang Bhare Bad-e-Naubahar Chale," I think the scene where that song appears in the film Farangi is visually quite striking, too, and should not be missed (despite imperfections in the copies that are available):


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzjoF8oxJk0


    Of course, I have noticed a few fine duets that Mehdi Hassan sang with Noor Jehan... One of them is in Qaidi, and if you look at this, you may notice that it's picturized in the same garden as Noor's famous rendition of "Mujhse Pehli Si Mohabbat Mere Mehboob...":
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRjK9Kvz-uI






    R.I.P., Mehdi Hassan.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you so much, Richard. Considering my knowledge of ghazals is limited pretty much to what I like to listen to, this was a very limited tribute to the artiste he was.

    Thanks for the videos; the visuals are indeed very striking. That is not Noor Jehan in the video, is it? I mean, it's her voice, but is it picturised on her as well? If so, she looks very different from how she looked in her Indian films.

    ReplyDelete
  17. You are welcome, Anu. And no, that's not Noor Jehan; it's Shamim Ara. This film was made in 1962, which was about the time when Noor Jehan changed over completely from singing star to playback singer.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ah! I wondered. Thanks for the clarification, Richard. I didn't know that Noor Jehan had switched to playback at all.

    ReplyDelete

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