KARACHI: “Music is my first love, the second is who I am married to and literature [is] my third [love],” said author Asif Noorani, which explained why he wrote a biography on the King of Ghazal, Mehdi Hassan.
The biography Mehdi Hassan: the man and his music was launched at a ceremony organised by Liberty Books and EMI Pakistan on Monday, where artistes, composers, poets and writers gathered to pay tribute to the ghazal maestro.
Noorani in his address said that while there were many books in English on Lata Mangeshkar but none on Mehdi Hassan. He shared how he received support from peers and loved ones for writing the book and how he met Hassan’s biggest fans.
While his previous book on Shahid Afridi is as famous as Hassan’s biography, he expects the former to surpass the sales of the latter. “People will stop buying my book on Afridi when he loses a match or chews the ball. But for Mehdi Hassan sahab, it’s a win-win situation.”
The launch session was conducted by musicologist Sultan Arshad, who is also a contributor to the book. The speakers included Saleem Hussain, who spoke about how the book’s publishing came about, and Umer Sheikh from EMI Pakistan who shared his views about the CDs enclosed with the book.
Sharing his views about the author, Arshad Mehmood, a senior actor and music composer, said he is a man who loves his work. “He has special devotion for music and nobody but him could have written on such a subject,” he said. “Asif not only wishes to write a book, but to document history and our legends.”
Mehmood said that although the book will be bought by older people, this knowledge about Mehdi Hassan will spread among the young generation of their families when they pick it up. “Music is the most recognised performing art in our country. Therefore, this book is of immense value.”
Urdu poet Zehra Nigah was the chief guest of the launch and spoke about the need for acknowledging local artistes more often. “We have a legacy of singers and great musicians. This book will ensure that one of our greatest singers is remembered.”
Praising Mehdi Hassan, who could not make to the launch due to his illness, she said that he is one of those artistes in history who established a separate school of art. “All of his ghazals are complete and comprehensive pieces and are the best amalgamation of music and singing,” she said.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Sameer Hussain, the strategy and business development director at Liberty Books, said the book has received a tremendous response at the stores.
Out of the initial 2,000 copies published, some 1,500 have already been sold and they plan to publish another 2,000. “The unique thing about the book is that it has even been sold from restaurants and cafes.”
This article was written by Samia Saleem and was published in Express Tribube [Karachi].