Ghazal king Mehdi Hassan dies in Karachi

Mehdi Hassan, the India-born Pakistani ghazal maestro, passed away at a Karachi hospital today after a prolonged illness. He was 84.

His son Arif told Geo News that his father died of breathing complications at a private nursing home in Karachi.

The ghazal king had been discharged from hospital only last month. He was back in hospital only a day later but was not put on a ventilator.

“My father has been ill for the last 12 years but this year, his condition has deteriorated significantly… in the last one month,” said Arif. “He was released from hospital for just one day before being admitted again.”

Mr Hassan, who has a huge fan following all over the world, had been suffering from lung, chest and urinary tract ailments for the past many years.

Mr Hassan leaves behind his nine sons and five daughters. He married twice. Both his wives are dead.

Prime Minister Gilani expressed grief and sorrow at the death of Hussan. In a message, he said Hassan was “an icon who mesmerised music lovers not only in Pakistan but also in the subcontinent for many decades.”

Mr Hassan, who last performed in India in 2000, wanted to visit the country again, a dream which remained unfulfilled.

Arif had even received the visa in April for Mr Hassan’s treatment in an Indian hospital but they could not travel as singer’s condition deteriorated.

Considered one of the most successful ghazal singers of Pakistan, Mr Hassan was trained in classical music by his father Ustad Azeem Khan and his uncle Ustad Ismail Khan who were both well respected classical musicians.

He started to perform at a young age and his first concert was on Dhrupad and Kheyal with his elder brother. Mr Hassan was bestowed with the title of Shahenshah-e-Ghazal (The King of Ghazal singing) by his fans for infusing a new breath of life in the art form.

The legend also played an important role of the cultural ambassador between India and Pakistan and visited his birth country several times.

Mr Hassan started primarily as a thumri singer and earned recognition within the musical fraternity in Pakistan at the time when Ustad Barkat Ali Khan, Begum Akhtar and Mukhtar Begum were considered the stalwarts of ghazal singing.

There was a time in Pakistan’s film industry when a film was considered incomplete without Hassan’s voice.

In 2010, Sarhadein was released which has the first and last duet song Tera Milna by Mehdi Hassan and Lata Mangeshkar, who once called Hassan the “voice of God”.

Mr Hassan recorded it in Pakistan in 2009, and Lata Mangeshkar later heard the track and recorded her part in India in 2010 and it was later mixed together for a duet.

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