Mehdi Hassan the legendary ghazal singer is the pride of Pakistan. Mehdi Hassan was born in Luna Rajasthan, India in 1927. He belonged to a family with rich musical roots, the Kalawant clan of musicians. Both his father and paternal uncle were dhrupad singers. Mehdi Hassan’s family migrated to Pakistan after partition.
Life was not easy and for some time Mehdi Hassan had to work as an auto mechanic to support his family. Mehdi Hassan got his first break on Radio Pakistan Karachi in 1952. Slowly he made a name for himself and in 1962 fame finally came to him when his ghazal “Gullon mein rung bharay” became immensely popular. From then onwards there was no turning back for the maestro; he was to rule the music industry for decades to come.
Mehdi Hassan was passionate about music and poetry. His command over the various raags and his deep understanding of the poetry made his ghazals so outstanding. He added a new dimension in ghazal singing. He composed the ghazal in the raag which best suited the mood of the ghazal. Even today no singer in the sub continent can match his low notes. Mehdi Hassan was the main playback singer from the 60s to the 80s. He also performed on television and in private functions. Mehdi Hassan has won a great number of awards both nationally and internationally. Lata Mangeshkar the iconic Indian singer paying glowing tributes to the Shahenshah-e- Ghazal Mehdi Hassan compared his voice to that of Bhagwan (God).
Mehdi Hassan’s popularity can be judged from this anecdote. While singing in the court of King Birendra of Nepal, Mehdi Hassan forgot a line of his song, “Zindagi mein to sub he piyar kiya karte hain”; the King got up and sang the line; a great honor for the singer indeed.
Failing health made him give up singing but Mehdi Hassan has carved a name for himself which will not be erased by time or tide.
Ahmed Rushdi is one of the greatest singers of South Asia. The titles “Prince of Melody” and “The Wizard of Vocals” (awaz ka jadugar) are a testament of his versatile singing abilities and immense talent.
Ahmed Rushdi was born in a religious family in Hyderabad; Deccan in pre partition India.Rushdi lost his father in infancy. Rushdi was blessed with an exceptional voice, natural talent and a strong liking for music. No one in his family was even remotely associated with music. His father’s friend noticing his fondness for music and his good voice, enrolled him in a local music academy where he was taught by M.A Rauf and Iqbal Quraishi; two renowned composers of that time. Rushdi sang his first song for an Indian movie Ibrat in 1952. In 1954, Rushdi migrated to Karachi Pakistan with his family and started participating in musical shows, variety programs and Radio Pakistan the most powerful medium of that time. Rushdi’s song “Bunder Road sey Kemari” for a children’s program was a hit and soon he became a household name. Offers started pouring from the film industry and Rushdi was now a busy playback singer as well.
Rushdi literally ruled over the music industry in the 60s and 70s. At that time there were other great singers as well but Rushdi had carved a special place for himself. Rushdi also was the first singer to introduce pop music to South Asia. His song “ko ko korena” composed by Sohail Rana and filmed on Waheed Murad set a new trend in the music industry of South Asia. Rushdi lent his voice to all the leading heroes of Pakistan film industry. His voice even suited the supporting actors and the comedians. He sang duets with all the leading female singers of Pakistan.
Rushdi never received any formal training in classical music but he had full command over notes especially high notes. He could capture all moods effectively; was comfortable with every genre of music; film songs, ghazals, qawwali.
On 11th April 1983, the great singer suffered from a massive heart attack and passed away. The government of Pakistan posthumously awarded him the Pride of Performance award in 2003.
Nayyara Noor is a talented singer from Pakistan. She as received no formal training of music but her natural talent and her passion for music has made her the great singer she is today. As a child she was very fond of Akhtar Begum and listened to her ghazals attentively.
During her college days, her teachers heard her sing and encouraged her to participate in the Radio Pakistan’s University Program in 1968. Nayyara’s singing career officially began in 1971. She recorded songs for Pakistan Television and movies. As a playback singer; the versatility of her voice surprised many and won accolades plus a large number of fans. Her romantic songs pulled the strings of the listeners’ hearts; her tragic songs cast a melancholy spell and her jolly teasing songs left the listeners smiling. Nayyara Noor won two Nigar Awards for her playback singing.
Nayyara’s national songs renew the spirit of patriotism in you. Nayyara Noor is best known for her ghazal singing. The reserved and graceful Nayyara has literally immortalized the ghazals she has sung. Although she has rendered ghazals by Ghalib, Fayez Ahmed Fayez, Nasir Kazmi and Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, her best performance in my opinion is Behzad Lakhnavi’s “Aye gazba-e-dil gar mein chahoon” recorded for PTV.
Noor Jehan was born in Kasur Punjab as Allah Wasai to Madad Ali and Fateh Bibi. She was the youngest of her siblings. Her parents were musicians and her sisters were actresses in the local theatre. From an early age, Noor Jehan’s parents wanted her to sing but she was more interested in acting. Noticing her keen interest in music and her natural talent for singing, her parents sent her to Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan for training in classical music.
Noor Jehan appeared as a child star in few films. In 1939, Noor Jehan sang her first song composed by Ghulam Haider. The song was well received by the masses. Her first song as a playback singer was for a film Gul Bakavli. In 1942, Noor Jehan came as a leading actress in the film Khandan. Khandan’s success brought her more films and she played the leading role in Naukar, Nadan, Dost, Duhai and Bari Maa. Her last film in India was Jugnu against Dilip Kumar.
After partition, she migrated to Pakistan along with her husband Syed Shaukat Hussain Rizvi. Pakistani film industry was in a bad shape as many experienced workers had opted for India. In 1951, Noor Jehan and her husband directed a Punjabi film Chan way. The film was a hit and Noor Jehan also became the first female director of Pakistan. She acted and sang for films till 1963. From 1963 onwards she sang as a playback singer as her new husband; a nine years younger Ejaz Durrani was not keen on her acting.
Noor Jehan’s career as a playback singer was extremely successful. Her voice was well suited for Punjabi movies and her songs guaranteed sure success. Noor Jehan also made appearnces on TV. Her patriotic songs during the 1965 war with India were quite inspiring.
Noor Jehan won a number of awards including the President’s Award in recognition to her services in the fields of singing and acting. Noor Jehan is known as The Queen of Melody and is one of the most influential singers of the sub continent.
Tahira Syed is a ghazal and folk singer from Pakistan. She is the youngest child of the legendary ghazal singer Malika Pukhraj. At the age of 12, Tahira started learning the basics of singing. After spending a couple of years learning classical music from Ustad Akhtar Hussain, her singing skills were later honed by her mother.
Tahira’s voice is quite different from that of other female Pakistani singers. Her voice is a bit heavy, resonant but graceful nonetheless. Tahira mostly sang ghazals, Pahari and Punjabi folk songs during her singing career. She started her singing career in 1968-69 from Radio Pakistan; a medium which served as a base and launched the careers of many singers and actors of Pakistan. Tahira has lent her voice to a couple of film songs as well. The film song which vibrates in the memories of many is “Hum sa ho to samney aaiy”. The famous music director Nisar Bazmi composed the song and asked Tahira to sing it. The song was a hit and Tahira put an end to all speculations that her voice did not suit playback singing.
Blessed with good looks, elegance and charm; the lady also graced the cover page of National Geographic magazine in 1985.
Tahira is not that active on the music scene and that’s why the new generation is not aware of her which is quite unfortunate. Singers like Tahira did not achieve fame overnight but worked hard for it.