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A Tribute to Shahenshah-E-Ghazal, Mehdi Hassan

By Viren Mayani
July 2015
A Tribute to Shahenshah-E-Ghazal, Mehdi Hassan

 

Udai Singh, director of the program, with portrait of Khan Sahib Mehdi Hassan.

Teri Mehfil Mein Lekin Hum No Honge,” a lively musical evening, was hosted by a group of ardent music aficionados to celebrate the 3rd barsi / punyatithi of epic global performer Mehdi Hassan on June 13, 2015, at the Afghan Kabob Restaurant in Lilburn, Georgia.

The program began at 9:15pm with salute to Khan Sahib's picture ornamented with a red scarf around it, and a warm welcome by Sunny Thakkar. Udai Singh, Atlanta’s music lover and music historian, besides being a notable attorney, painted a moving silhouette of Khan Sahib's sweet personality and engaging humility by narrating and acting his life's incidents, starting with his 1978 visit to his birth village Luna in Rajasthan, India and Khan Sahib’s efforts to raise funds for the development of roads and schools there. Udai Singh continued to expound on Khan Sahib’s magnum persona by describing his vocal training from 6 years of age under strict discipline of his father Azeem Khan, uncle Ismail Khan, and elder brother Pundit Ghulam Qadir (Pandit because he attained a Visarat or PhD in Indian music); his first performance at age 8 for the Raja of Baroda where he sang khayal in raag Basant for forty minutes and became the royal singer; his struggles and success to support his family in Pakistan by starting a tire repair shop and installing tractor diesel engines; and his efforts to get opportunities to sing on Pakistan radio in Lahore, and a few years later in films in Karachi, where he instantly became the most versatile and popular singer of geet and ghazals, earning him rewards in many countries and global fame.

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Dr. Nitin Mayur on tabla, Ali Asani singing, Sohail Ali on keyboard, Sunny Thakkar on sound control.

The soulful rendition by the affable Alibhai Asani, in his deep resonant voice, masterfully evoked the sweetness and pathos of every nuance of Mehdi Hassan’s ghazals and geet, and was supported and embellished by intricate beats on tabla by Dr. Nitin Mayur, and electrifying chords on keyboard by Sohail Ali. Repeated applause marked the audience appreciation of famous numbers like “zindagi mein to sabhi pyar kiya karte hain,” “duniya kisike pyar mein,” “baat kani mujhe mushkil to na thi,” “pyaar bhare do sharmile nain,” “rafta rafta woh hamare,” “mujhe tum nazar se girah to rahey ho,” “ek kagazi phool jaisa chehra,” “mohabbat karnewale kam na honge,” “bhege bhege badan,” “woh to na mil sake,” “khuda kare mohabbat,” “ghazab kiya tere vade pe aitbar kiya,” “ranjish hi sahi,” and the heightened end with “dama dum mast kalandar.”

After the intermission with savoring of hot tea and jalebis, the audience enjoyed tribute to Khan Sahib by Imran, who beautifully rendered soul-stirring numbers, “yun humse khafa ho gaye,” and “aap ko bhool jayein.” The audience smiled and thumped joyfully when Udai Singh sang Khan Sahib's fast paced romantic numbers, “jab koi pyar se bulaye ga” and “nawazish karam shukriya meherbani.”

The uniquely presented program also gave everyone a touch of a special and emotional experience, when Shahid Malik and ‘Captain’ Qadir Siddiqui shared their fond memories of their friend Khan Sahib's playfulness and modesty, but tough, serious, and hardworking attitude towards music, work, family, friends, and life in general.

The “Atlanta Loves Mehdi Hassan” caption on Khan Sahib's portrait was proven true, first, by the enthusiastic support by members of the organizing team comprised of Ali Asani ( program and performance), Udai Singh (direction and script), Sunny Thakkar ( sound and supervision), Anwar Ajmeri (publicity and AVS), Anjali Chabbria (AVS media), Chetan Vyas (video and ticketing), Amit Dave (supervision), and Mahendra (ticketing), followed by the tremendous support and appreciation from Atlanta’s audience, and finally, by the hospitality and delicious vegetarian and meat biryani, salad, raita, regular/kawa tea and jalebi from talented owner and cook Noor Mohammad of Afghan Kabob Restaurant.

 



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