To me the finest ghazal singer I’ve ever heard is not alive, and for a large part of his life was not even Indian.
Mehdi Hasan was born in Rajasthan to a clan of singers. He himself has said publicly on several occasions that he was the 16th of a Kalawant clan of traditional (& hereditary) singers. He received his initial training in Dhrupad singing from his father Ustad Azeem Khan & his uncle Ustad Ismail Khan. His older brother Pandit Ghulam Qadir also helped his singing. The family migrated to Paapistan in ’47 & due to the lack of musical tradition especially the lack of knowledge of Hindustani Classical Music, he faced enormous difficulties. He worked as a bicycle mechanic, later becoming a car and diesel tractor mechanic. He however always took out time for his daily riyaaz.
He started his singing career at the relatively late age of 30 years. He got a break as a Thumri singer on Radio Paapistan, which gave him the public exposure every artist craves for and thrives on. He was passionate about Urdu Poetry, and started to innovate in singing this as ghazals. He is singularly responsible for morphing a form of poetry to an ethereal form of singing that he molded in the form of Hindustani Classical Music. Thereby he got the audience in the country used to listening to good music.
The quality of his singing was always sublime and pristine. Even the great vocalist Bharatratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi was appreciative of his prowess.
Listen to this amazing ghazal.
Ideally meant to be sung a little later in the night, the singing is so endearing and captivating, one cannot help listening to his piece in its entirety.
This rendition is in the Thumri format, and not as a Ghazal.
Tilak Kamod is such a beautiful raag, ideally suited for the 12 midnight to 3 am slot, (the dwitiya prahar of the night) . It belongs to the Khamaj thaat as described by Pandit Bhatkhande and is a Shadav- Sampoorna raag. Which means Aaroha has six notes, and the Avaroha has all seven. I love the raag.
Mukeshji has sung a beautiful song in the raag, too in Godaan with music composed by Bharatratna Pandit Ravi Shankar. Another piece of magic by the maestro for the lay audience, with awesome singing by Mukesh ji, who had learnt classical music indirectly during the teaching of his sister (reminds me of Ekalavya learning archery from Dronacharya). He did receive some formal training after his mentor and guiding light Motilal brought him to Mumbai after spotting the teenager’s talent in a wedding in the family. Listen to this wonderful Mukesh melody.
For an eternally dissatisfied shrota, one rendition of Khansaheb only serves to whet my appetite. Here is one more rendition of the same thumri.
Stay safe, have a wonderful Monday evening as I immerse myself in the unadulterated auditory bliss of the maestro’s singing.
Nirvana is best achieved virtually by such blissful pleasures. Give me this anyday at the end of a workday.
Feel the stress melt away and yourself mellow with this piece of divinity…