Ustad Mehdi Hassan, Pakistan’s legendary classical singer who captivated millions of music fans across South Asia, has died. He was 84.
Hassan, known as Shahenshah-e-Ghazal, or the king of classical singing among Urdu speakers across the world, died in the Aga Khan hospital in the port city of Karachi on Wednesday.
His son Asif told reporters outside the hospital that his father had been suffering from multiple lung, chest and urinary tract conditions.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed his condolences, calling Hassan “an icon who mesmerised music lovers” for decades.
Indian singing legend Lata Mangeshkar, who once likened his songs to the “voice of God”, has called Hassan’s death “a great loss to the music industry”.
Mangeshkar also took to her twitter account to honour to honour the ustad, master, saying “there was only one Mehdi Hassan and his presence will always be missed in the world of music”.
Shreya Ghoshal, the playback singer for films such as Devdas and recent hit Bodyguard, called Hassan “the voice, who made many music lovers and lovers find an expression of their hearts’ stories” on her twitter account, saying the void left by the maestro’s death can never be filled.
Mastery of Ghazal
Ghazal, an ancient pan-Asian poetic form popularised in Hindi, Urdu, Persian and, Pashto, is comrpised of rhyming couplets and a refrain. Each line will share the same metre.
A traditional love poem expression put to music, it frequently rang out across markets, buses and homes across the sub-continent and beyond.
Ghazals also served as the soundtrack to more than 300 films from Pakistan’s Lollywood film industry.
Outside of Pakistan, Hassan also won awards in India – the Saigol Award in 1979 – and Nepal – the Gorkha Dakhshin Baho Award in 1983.
Prior to the fame his mastery of Ghazal earned him, Hassan, who was born in India in 1927, worked at a bicycle shop and as a car mechanic.
He migrated to Pakistan after partition and independence from British rule in 1947.