Mehdi Hassan (1927 to 2012) was born in a village called Luna in Rajasthan, India into a family of traditional musicians. He claims to be the 16th generation of hereditary musicians hailing from the Kalawant clan of musicians.
Mehdi Hassan (1927 – 2012) was born in a village called Luna in Rajasthan, India into a family of traditional musicians. He claims to be the 16th generation of hereditary musicians hailing from the Kalawant clan of musicians. Mehdi Hassan had his musical grooming from his father Ustad Azeem Khan and uncle Ustad Ismail Khan who were both traditional Dhrupad singers. The life story of Mehdi Hassan is a journey of trials and tribulations. After partition the family migrated to Pakistan and suffered severe financial hardships.
To make both the ends meet Mehdi started 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 routine of practice on a daily basis.
The struggle ended when Mehdi Hassan was given the opportunity to sing on Radio Pakistan in 1957, 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 rendition.
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.
Following a severe illness in the late 80s, Mehdi Hassan stepped down from playback singing. Later due to severity of his illness he completely departed from music. He lived a secluded life in Karachi which he had made his permanent residence. Nevertheless, he often visited Lahore where he spended most of his time with his children and other family members.
In October 2010, HMV released "Sarhadein" in which probably the first and last duet song "Tera Milana" featuring Mehdi Hassan and Lata Mangeshkar was released. This song was composed by Mr. Hassan himself written by Farhat Shahzad. Mr. Hassan recorded it in Pakistan in 2009, and Lata Mangeshkar later heard the track and recorded her part in India in 2010 and later mixed together for a duet.
He has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions: the “Tamgha-i-Imtiaz” granted to him by Gen. Ayub Khan; the “Pride of Performance” bestowed on him by Gen. Ziaul Haq; and the “Hilal-i-Imtiaz” conferred by Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Besides the “Nigar Film” and “Graduate Awards” from Pakistan, he was presented the “Saigal Award” in Jalandhar, India, in 1979, whereas the “Gorkha Dakshina Bahu” Award was given to him in Nepal in 1983. He travelled to Dubai to receive yet another award.
Mehdi Hassan left behind fourteen children, nine of whom are boys and five of whom are girls. Like him, most of his children are also interested in the field of music.