Singers pay their respects...
I spoke to him on the phone last year, but he could hardly speak. It’s been an association of more than 30 years for me. We first met in 1977. The world knew him as a great musician but he was a very simple man. He had no idea about things like media or publicity. Once after a concert, he returned to his hotel room at around 4 am and Hassan said he felt like singing again.
He just took out a harmonium and started singing for himself. That was the kind of man he was. The last time I heard him singing for everyone was when he was in Mumbai for his treatment in 2000. He came to attend my concert and later, we all gathered at a friend’s place for dinner.
When a lot of people requested him to sing, he asked me to accompany him on the harmonium. He sang for almost an hour. It was too much of a strain for him. But he simply said ‘mujhse gaaye bina raha nahin jaata’.
Mehdi Hassan sahib enhanced the beauty of ghazal singing. He added the extra style and melody with his voice. He was able to touch the depth of ghazals and gave it a deeper colour; its soul. Ghulam Aliji brought in chanchalta while Jagjit Singhji made it simple, more approachable and entertaining for the common man.
Now we don’t have the two pillars of the ghazal. Ghulam Ali ji will have to carry the burden of keeping it going all alone. Unless we have some kind of magic happening or another Madan Mohan is born this style of singing is on its decline.
Lata Mangeshkar on her micro-blogging site yesterday stated, “Aaj bohot bade ghazal gayak kalaakar Mehdi Hassan sahab hamare bich nahi rahe... mujhe is baat bohot dukh hai... ghazal gaayki ke kshetra mein unhone bohot bada parivartan laaya..”