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Mehdi Hassan, TI, PP, HI (Urdu: مہدی حسن) is a Pakistani ghazal singer and a former playback singer for Lollywood.
The unparalleled master of ghazal, .Mehdi Hassan, the living legend, exceptionally known as the 'King of Ghazal' was born in 1927 in a village called Luna in Rajasthan, India. He belongs to 16th generation of hereditary musicians hailing from the Kalawant clan of musicians. Mehdi Hassan was trained in music within his family.
When Pakistan came into being, Mehdi Hassan’s family migrated to Pakistan and had tough time. To support family financially Mehdi Hassan had to work in a bicycle shop and soon became a car and diesel tractor mechanic. In 1957, Mehdi Hassan had a favorable time when he got the opportunity of “thumri” singer in Radio Pakistan. At that era, many rich and mellifluous voices captured the hearts of all the listeners through broadcasts on Radio Pakistan including Ustad Barkat Ali Khan, Begum Akhtar and Mukhtar Begum. Mehdi had the inclination towards urdu poetry and introduced Ghazal Singing in a different dimension. Soon, he earned a unique name and fame in this type of singing art by using behlawas, murkhis, taans and zamzamas and touches of Rajasthani folk singing. Another outstanding quality in his singing, that is very rare these days, was correct pronunciation, delivery of words and the true expression of a word regardless of the constraints put forward by the musical composition.
Mehdi Hassan was the most popular playback singer of the Pakistani film industry from the early 1960s to the late 1980s. Many of his film based ghazals have become classics. He was associated with many great legendary musicians of Radio Pakistan and Film Industry such as Ustad Niaz Hussain Shami, Pandit Ghulam Qadir (Mehdi Hassan’s brother), Master Inayat Hussain, Khawaja Khurshid Anwar, Rashid Attrey, Nisar Bazmi and Mohsin Raza.
The government of Pakistan has awarded Mehdi Hassan the pride of performance as recognition to his services rendered to music, and he was also recently awarded a life achievement award by Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation.He has left such an indelible mark in the field of ghazal singing that almost all the ghazal singers of today are influenced by him. His sons Asif and Kamran are following in their father’s footsteps and trying to carve a career as ghazal singers. Young or even veteran singers can only dream to sing ghazals like Mehdi Hassan.