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Mehdi Hassan Remembered in Nepal

14 September, 2013

 – Dr. Manju Ratna Sakya*


Nepal Journalists Association

The news of Mehdi Hassan’s death on 13 June 2012 was received with shock and disbelief by his fans in Nepal who are in thousands. The legendry Urdu Ghazal singer who by his live performances and recorded voice in the span of his singing career had enthralled the music lovers of Nepal and won their hearts. He has also played a crucial role in enhancing friendship between the two countries. Medhi Hassan is immortal for Nepali Urdu gazal music lovers.

Mehdi Hasan was born in a small village Luna in Rajasthan, India in 1927 to a renowned singer of that time, Ustad Azeem Khan. The family migrated to Pakistan after partition and was hit by financial crisis on their arrival. Mehdi Hasan had to repair bicycles and work as a mechanic to make ends meet but all the hardships were unable to discourage his love of music. Mehdi Hassan got a chance to sing Ghazals and songs at Radio Pakistan Karachi in 1952. In 1964 his ghazal for a film Farangi, “Golon mein rang bharay” gave him a major break and he never looked back after that. He gave playback to all the film heroes of the 60’s and 70’s.

He was acknowledged as the King of Gazals the world over after singing some of the most memorable Ghazals like “golon mein rang bhare”, “daikh tu dil ke jan” and “ranjish hi sahi. He is famously known as the “King of Ghazal”.

Mehdi Hassan had international recognition in 1979, he was awarded K. L. Saigal Sangeet Shehenshah Award by the Government of India. Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar who has been awarded Bharat Ratna, once compared his voice to the “voice of god”.

Nepal-Pakistan Friendship and Cultural Association (NPFCA) hosted a grand Reception in a honor of "The King of the Gazals : Mehdi Hassan Khan "at the Residence of NPFCA President General Samrajya S. Rana at Shah Mahal Naxal on 22nd May 1983. At that time, Mehdi Hassan gave a excellent performance of singing Gazals for more than 2 hours which was highly appreciated by all the guests including the Ministers, Ambassadors, Members of diplomatic Corps, high level officials of Royal Palace including from MOFA people. I still remember during that time being myself a Secretary General of NPFCA, I had a great opportunity to serve him the " Fresh Coke " also.

Before this performance, he was kindly invited by King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya to perform the Pakistani Gazals at the Royal Palace in Kathmandu. Their Majesties the King and Queen were highly impressed on his Gazals songs. Due to that King Birendra decorated him the highest Nepalese Medal " Gorkha Dashin Bahu 1st " at the Royal Palace amidst a special ceremony on 1983. Mehdi Hassan Khan was the first Pakistani who received the highest decoration of Nepal from the King during that time.

Mehdi Hassan a most internationally popular Pakistanese Gazals singer is still remembered by the Nepalese people.

It can be awarded to both the military and civilian personal, including foreign nationals, for the distinguished contribution to the country in the field of arts, literature, sports, science, and social service.

Mehdi Hassan has been honoured with highest civil awards ranging from Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, Pride of Performance, Hilal-e-Imtiaz to Nishan-e-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan.

Indeed Mehdi Hassan would always be remembered in Nepal for his innumerable ghazals and would by synonymous with NepalPakistan friendship.

* Dr. Manju Ratna Sakya is also the Secretary General  of Nepal–Pakistan Friendship and Cultural Association .