Accolades heaped on Mehdi Hasan

Music is a sublime heritage and musicians, maestros, and writers must make all efforts to preserve the music of their era for posterity. This not only expands the vista of the coming generations but also helps them be better acquainted with their cultural heritage. The tradition of writing books on music and musicians must continue.

These views were expressed by noted poetess Zahra Nigh while speaking as chief guest the launch of the book, “Mehdi Hasan: the man and his music”, by noted senior journalist Asif Noorani at the Karachi Club (Annexe) Monday evening.

She praised Noorani for his determination and hard work in putting together such a volume. However, while lauding his effort, she remarked that Noorani had written the book in English which was fine but it would be even more welcome if such books were written in Urdu as that was the language of the overwhelming majority and books in Urdu would go a long way in popularising the arts and passing our heritage on to posterity.

She was all praise for Mehdi Hasan and his inimitable style of Ghazal rendition. In her opinion there should be such books highlighting the talent of vocalists like Iqbal Bano and Farida Khanum too.

Former BBC Urdu service broadcaster Raza Ali Abdi, said that Mehdi Hasan was leaving the future generations a priceless legacy in his vocal talent. He said musical notes when sung in a particular manner have been known to break glasses or set things vibrating. “Musical notes may break glasses but they unite hearts”, he said, adding that music of the likes of Mehdi Hasan was the common precious heritage of the people of Pakistan and India, but said that in Pakistan the outlook towards this most sublime pursuit was quite different from what it was in India. In this context, he narrated an incident pertaining to the visit by a group of Pakistan musicians to India. He said that as they were boarding a PIA aircraft at the New Delhi airport to head back home, they were being seen off by their Indian counterparts in the most honourable and sentimental of manner but as they boarded the plane, they put their musical instruments in the aisle, much to the annoyance of the air hostess, who shouted in a tone of undisguised contempt, “Kaun hain yeh mirasi? Uthao apne sare saaz yahan se”. The common musical heritage, Abdi said, could actually go a long way in bringing the two neighbours closer and in wiping out this atmosphere of acrimony.

Noted TV personality Arshad Mehmood spoke of his long association with the author dating back to the time when the latter was the editor of Eastern Film. He praised Noorani for his dedication to the profession His speech was punctuated with a whole lot of quips and humorous remarks.

Asif Noorani, thanked the organisers and the speakers for their tributes. He lamented that while there were so many books on Indian singing legend Lata Mangeshkar, there were none on Mehdi Hasan. He said that Mehdi Hasan’s style of Ghazal rendition was absolutely matchless. Mehdi Hasan, he said, was not as much bothered about the writer of the lyric as he was about the quality of the poem, or Ghazal. His rendition of words and syllables was so articulate which made the piece all the more poignant, he said.

Others who spoke were Mr Saleem of Liberty Books, and Mr Omar Sheikh of EMI Sultan Arshad compared the programme.

Mehdi Hasan could not come to the function as he was indisposed (again).

This article is written by Anil Datta and was published in The News.

Mehdi Hasan: The Man and His Music is available at all leading bookstores – ordering details available here.


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