For an entire generation, Mehdi Hassan was the ultimate ghazal singer. On the maestro’s eighth death anniversary on June 13, Narendra Kusnur picked 10 of his popular and slightly lesser-known ghazals and nazms – all masterpieces.
By Narendra Kusnur
For an entire generation, Mehdi Hassan was the ultimate ghazal singer. His magical voice, choice of poetry, sense of classical nuances, and immense power of expression combined to give his music that rare uniqueness.
On the maestro’s eighth death anniversary on June 13, we choose 10 of his ghazals and nazms. Obviously, this isn’t a definitive list, as many other favourites could have been included. Yet, we tried to provide a mix of popular fare and slightly lesser-known masterpieces.
The poets mentioned range from the classic to the modern, and no writer has been repeated. For those new to his repertoire, this good be a good starting point.
- Ranjish Hi Sahi
One of the most popular ghazals ever, this was written by Ahmed Faraz and set to raag Yaman Kalyan.The lines “Aa phir se mujhe chhod ke jaane ke liye aa” reflect the ghazal’s theme of pathos.
- Zindagi Mein To Sabhi
For many, this is the ultimate love song, as Hassan sings, “Zindagi mein to sabhi pyaar kiya karte hain, main to markar bhi meri jaan tujhe chahoonga”. The composition is set in raag Bhimpalasi.
- Gulon Mein Rang Bhare
The song that catapulted Hassan to fame in 1955, when it became a big hit on Pakistani radio. The Urdu phrases by Faiz Ahmed Faiz are complex, but the singer does total justice, singing “Chale bhi aao ke gulshan ka karobar chale”.
- Pyaar Bhare Do Sharmile Main
From the 1974 movie Chahat, this is another classic song by Hassan, written by Khwaja Parvez. Hassan sings, “Tu jo rahe saath mere, duniya ko thukraoon, tera dil behlaoon”.
- Kaise Kaise Log
Written by Munir Niazi, this is a song loved by the ardent admirers, with Hassan singing, “Kaise kaise log hamare jee ko jalaane aa jaate hain, apne apne gham ke phasaane hamein sunaane aa jaate hain”.
- Dekh To Dil Ke Jaan
A classic penned by the legendary Mir Taqi Mir, this one goes, “Dekh to dil ke jaan se uthta hai, yeh dhuan sa kahan se uthta hai”. The song was used briefly in a scene in the Hindi film 7 Khoon Maaf.
- Bhooli Bisri Chand Umeedein
One of the simpler songs sung by Hassan, this one is filled with nostalgia. Razi Tirmizi’s lines go “Bhooli bisri chand umeedein, chand fasaane yaad aaye; Tum yaad aaye aur tumhare saath zamaane yaad aaye”.
- Ku-ba-ku Phail Gayee
This song, written by Parveen Shakir, is a connoisseur’s favourite as the singer talks about how the word of one’s closeness with another person has spread. Another version sung by Abida Parveen is also popular.
- Kya Toota Hai Andar Andar
One of Hassan’s later gems, it was written by Farhat Shahzad and used in the album Kehna Usey. The lines go, “Kya toota hai andar andar, kyon chehra khumlaya hai; tanha tanha rone waale, kaun tumhe yaad aaya hai”.
- Daayam Pada Hua
A 10-song list would have to include Mirza Ghalib, and this one’s a favourite. Numerous singers have presented it, including Begum Akhtar, Hariharan, Ghulam Ali, Jaswinder Singh and recently, Gayatri Asokan. Hassan’s version has its distinct charm, like anything he touched.