The legendary singer who elevated ghazal gaeki to unprecedented heights, Mehdi Hassan, died on June 13. He was 84. He had been admitted to an intensive care unit of a local private hospital where he breathed his last. He was suffering from chest, lung and urinary tract ailments, and had been bedridden for quite a while.
Mehdi Hassan was born in Luna, Rajasthan in 1927. He acquired his early training in music from his father and uncle, both of whom were known classical musicians. Initially in his career he tried his hand at different professions. But as fate would have it, he started singing at functions and then got an opportunity to sing for Pakistani films (his family migrated to Pakistan after 1947). After initial hiccups, he met with success. His playback singing for the film Farangi (specifically the ghazal Guloon Mein Rung Bhare) catapulted him to fame after which he never looked back and went from strength to strength.
Mehdi Hassan (or Khan Sahib as he was fondly referred to by friends) then polished his act and not only sang a great many remarkable ghazals but also composed them. Thus, he earned the honorific title of Shahnshah-i-Ghazal (King of Ghazal).