As the news of Mehdi Hassan’s death spread in Kashmir yesterday, a pall of gloom descended on the artistic fraternity and ghazal lovers here. Mir Muneer, a renowned local singer who has performed alongside Mehdi Hassan during a ghazal concert said, “The emperor of ghazal singing is no more. He was the creator of a legendary style in ghazal singing and finally became a legend himself.”
“I am reminded of an Urdu couplet on the death of the maestro which reads: ‘Hazaron Saal Nargis Apni Benoori Pe Roti Hai / Badi Mushkil Se Hota Hai Chaman Mein Didawar Paida (For thousands of years the Daffodil must lament its destiny before the real admirer of her beauty is born).’ Mehdi Hassan was the real ‘Didawar’ of ghazal in the world. It is a loss the world of music will not be able to redeem. I am personally orphaned today,” he said.
Imtiyaz Ahmad Malik, a prominent local tabla player, said, “Whenever a classical singer starts his concert, he always follows the rhythmist, but Mehdi Hassan was one classical singer whom the rhythmist had to follow. There was something deeply spiritual about his singing, which shall continue to live after the legend has finally passed away.”
Renowned local scholar and critique Muhammad Yusuf Teng said, “I am shocked to hear about Mehdi Hassan’s death. Words fail me to pay tribute to the greatest ghazal singer ever born.” Jnanpith award winner and poet, Professor Rehman Rahi (87), said, “He conquered the world with his voice, which shall always remain with us. I have been a lover of his ghazals since I gained consciousness. Not all singers can reach the lofty heights Mehdi Hassan touched and he ruled all along his singing career.”
Kashmiris, who learn Urdu right from the primary classes as it is the official language of the state, have always been great fans of Mehdi Hassan. “There is no ghazal of the master which is not remembered by heart by most ghazal lovers in Kashmir. He was undoubtedly the King of ghazal singing and the void left behind shall never be fulfilled,” said Farooq Ahmad Banday (49), an ardent ghazal lover.
Although the common Kashmiri might not have been able to understand the finer nuances of classical singing, the love for Mehdi Hassan crossed all barriers of society here. “I have dozens of his ghazal cassettes and CDs. I was really shocked to hear the news about his death. May God grant eternal peace to his soul,” said Mehrajuddin, a fruit seller in Srinagar city.