It is very difficult that an artiste like him will be born again: Lata Mangeshkar

The demise of ghazal maestro Mehdi Hassan in Pakistan was mourned by artistes across the border. Renowned singers paid rich tributes to a man whose voice was called the ‘voice of God' by Lata Mangeshkar, and remembered his contribution to the world of music. Twitter was abuzz with condolence messages for the maestro who earned diehard fans in both countries.

Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali told The Hindu that he would have to talk for years to elaborate on Mehdi Hassan's contribution to the world of music. “I came to Mumbai a few days ago. But now, after hearing the news, I feel like going back. I feel bad thinking of his last days of illness,” he said.

“We used to sit together for nights. We have travelled together, performed together. There was lot of love between us. He stayed at Karachi, I stay at Lahore. I used to go once in a while to meet him. He was a big star of the music world. He will remain alive in people's hearts,” he said.

His friends said Mehdi Hassan, who passed away at the age of 84, found it difficult to recognise people since the past few years. “He used to find it slightly difficult to recognise people,” Ghulam Ali said.

“Once, Amitabh Bachchan had come for his concert. After the concert, he came and met him. Mehdi Hassan saab did not recognise him in the beginning. But after he remembered, he started crying. The last time I met him was four years ago in Mumbai. He did not recognise me. But after he did, he started crying,” singer Anup Jalota said.

“He used to tell me that he liked my singing, and that he wanted to teach me. We performed together in 18 concerts. I feel very upset by his demise. It is very difficult to replace him. He had God in his voice,” he said. “God has taken him away from all the pain, in a much better world,” he added.

Playback singer Hariharan, who shared a close bond with the singer, said Mehdi Hassan was a school of music in himself. “It is a personal loss. He was a guru figure to me. He made me understand the marriage between words and tune. His contribution is unprecedented,” he told The Hindu.

He recalled a memorable day of his life when he sang for hours for Mehdi Hassan and his gurus during a personal party in 2005. “It was delightful for any student to understand his thought process for music. Whenever we met, we used to discuss finer points of music. He influenced me tremendously. I find myself extremely privileged to have been so close to him,” he said.

He narrated an incident when Mehdi Hassan sang throughout the night after listening to a good ghazal. “Once he had come to Mumbai for treatment, and was staying at Andheri. He called me. As we were engaged in a conversation, his children told him that a ghazal I sang was being played on the TV. After he heard it, he appreciated me. He said he wanted to sing. He started singing at 10 p.m. and went on till 3 am. It was a treat. We were all transported to a different world. After that mehfil got over, we had dinner,” he recollected.

Sources close to lyricist Gulzar said he was too shocked to speak.

Mehdi Hassan performed throughout the world, especially in India and Pakistan. He cut down on his performances since 1980s due to his health problem. The last song he recorded with any Indian artist was for Sarhadein with Lata Mangeshkar, who he always wanted to sing with. That was the only song he recorded with her.

Lata Mangeshkar paid tribute to Mehdi Hassan on twitter and posted their only duet song. “Gazal gaayki ke kshetra mein unhone bohot bada parivartan laaya,aaj unke jaane se ghazal ki bohot nadi haani hui hai, ab un jaisa kalakar phir se aana mushkil hai” “He had brought a very big change in the field of ghazal. The world of ghazal has faced a huge loss due to his demise. It is very difficult that an artiste like him will be born again,” she posted on twitter.