KARACHI: Legendary ghazal maestro Mehdi Hassan passed away at a private hospital in Karachi on Wednesday.
Hassan had been under treatment at hospitals in Pakistan for a while, and there had also been reports of shifting him to India. He was admitted at a hospital in Karachi for the past couple of weeks after he had developed a chest infection and breathing problems.
He passed away after he was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the hospital.
Speaking to the media outside Aga Khan Hospital, Hassan’s son Asif Mehdi said that his father had a number of complications and had been admitted for treatment for a month.
He said that his father had grown old and he was getting weak, and a number of issues had developed, including with the lungs and chest.
Asif said that his brothers will be arriving in Karachi shortly and funeral details will be finalised by evening.
Hassan was born into a family of traditional musicians at Luna village, India, in 1927. His family migrated to Pakistan after 1947.
He had been awarded the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, Pride of Performance and Hilal-e-Imtiaz by the Pakistani government.
Lata Mangeshkar expresses grief
Indian legend Lata Mangeshkar, while talking to Express News, said that she was deeply saddened to hear the news of Mehdi Hassan’s demise.
She said that it was unfortunate that such a wonderful person had to suffer so much. “He had come to India and we had met. Everyone had started crying when they saw him.”
“Yeh hee manzoor thaa Allah ko,” she said.
Mangeshkar praised Mehdi Hassan and said that it was because of him many people had started singing.
“A voice like his may never be heard again.”
She said she had all records Hassan had released and liked every single ghazal of his.
Nadeem Baig: “Hassan’s demise was a big loss, adding that a voice like his might never be heard again.”
“I had been humming one of Hassan’s songs in the morning today and it was later that I had found out about his demise,” said the actor.
Baig added that he was “blessed” to have had the opportunity to picturise his songs.
He also recalled that the maestro had encouraged him to sing and had said that he would teach him. He also said that he had thoroughly enjoyed hearing him live.
Tina Sani: “This kind of excellence – which is Mehdi Hassan – came with a lot of hard work. You may have a glimmer of talent, but if you don’t do this work of excellence with passion, then the question is: how will we ever produce another Mehdi Hassan or Ustad Ghulam Ali?”
“It’s a day to think. Legends don’t die. They are way beyond that. For all these people we are losing are products of 1950s, 1960s and some of 1970s.”
She added that Hassan had given the world the legacy of ghazals and he was a “passport” for people like her when they went out to perform in the world.
Ali Zafar: “There are some who are beyond the captive of time and age. One such maestro was Mehdi Hassan. He may not be amongst us physically anymore but he will certainly live forever in our hearts and minds through his ghazals and geets.”
“His gift to all of us including my generation and many more to come is intangible in words. He was more than an inspiration. He went as the greatest living ghazal maestro and we were lucky to have him. Hence I believe that we need to really show how we pay respect and ode to our heroes by doing something more meaningful than just condolences.”
“I think our government should construct a monument or an institution based on the great wisdom or the treasure of music he has left us with to enlighten our future generations with the same, and show the world how we value our art and artists,” added Zafar.
Javed Akhtar: Indian poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar, while speaking to an Indian news channel, was all praise for the ghazal maestro, stating that Hassan’s voice gave one solace and peace.
Ahmed Ali Butt: “There will be a lot of people giving tributes and remembering a legend. He has been sick for some time and his family had been asking for support. So the question arises, why we cannot support our legends while they are alive rather than name a street after them after they die.
“It’s a huge lost to the music community and to the generation of fans he has.”
Humaima Malick: Actor Humaima Malick, who is busy in Jaipur these days shooting for a film Sher opposite Sanjay Dutt, expressed grief over Hassan’s demise. In a message from India, she said, “It is definitely a cause to weep when a nation loses a personality such as Mehdi Hassan. He was respected and admired throughout the subcontinent. India and Pakistan have grown up listening to his ghazals, no matter what age or generation. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time. No one can replace him as a true legend of Pakistan.”
Nawaz Sharif: Recalling his recent meeting with the ghazal maestro in Karachi few months back, Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif said he always wanted to meet Hassan and was glad he did.
“He [Hassan] couldn’t speak because he was not in good health however I sat beside him for most of the time and spoke to his family members,” he said.
Agreeing that the government should extend assistance to the artist community, Nawaz said he regrets that he couldn’t pass any law or draft a policy for this when he was in power.
Yousaf Salli: “Mehdi Hassan left behind followers across the world. If one talks about classical gharanas (households) I think he was a gharana within himself.”
Sahir Ali Bagga: “Today’s music is what I like to call weekend music, but you could listen to Mehdi Hassan for a lifetime and never get bored.”
Fareeda Khanum: “He would sing at night, in the morning and at every moment. His passion created an environment that was lost in the music.”