The Voice of God didn’t sing just the most beautiful ghazals; it excelled at commercial film songs too. Here, listen to 15 of my favourite songs that Mehdi Hassan sang for Pakistani films. Hope you like them – Pavan R Chawla
Back in 2004, I think it was, when I met the great Lata Mangeshkar to discuss PR for MAX for the India v/s Sri Lanka benefit match for the Dinanath Mangeshkar Memorial Hospital she was keen on setting up in Pune, when she told me, in response to a question about her favourite singers: “If I can, I always make it a point to listen to two singers every night before going to bed, and every morning after I wake up.” One, she said, was Barbara Streisand. The other was Mehdi Hassan. I loved her even more then, if that is possible, because Mehdi Hassan has always been my favourite too.
Thank God for recordings – Mehdi Hassan’s golden voice, with the breathtakingly handsome balance of smoothness and gravelly texture that surely was the result of a divine fluke, will live on for ever. (My heart goes out to a dear friend from Pakistan, Goher Iqbal Punn, who, years ago, had sent me an assortment of excellent Pakistani songs. We grieve.)
I remember, some of the first Mehdi Hassan songs I heard were from an LP of his old Pakistani Film songs – each a gem. Rafta Rafta Woh Meri Hasti Ka Saamaan Ho Gaye, Ranjish Hi Sahi, Kaise Kaise Log Hamare Dil Ko Jalaane Aa Jaate Hain, Tanha Thi Aur Hamesha Se Tanha Hai Zindagi… It was 1974-75, I think, and I was in Chandigarh. Thankfully, Radio Pakistan’s Lahore station tuned loud and clear on Medium Wave on my cherished possession, the six-band HMV Peacock radio with a glowing rich wooden body the grains of which gleamed brighter with each dusting. It had a golden grill, two speakers, and a lovely green-glowing valve, the tuning indicator light which you tried to reduce as close to a hair-thin sliver as possible – for that indicated the finest tuning. The door to the room shut, Volume nicely up, Bass and Treble levels set, I would sit back and pray that the next song my favourite announcer on Radio Pakistan Lahore, Hassan Shahid Mirza, announced, would be one sung by Mehdi Hassan, and for a film.
Mehdi Hassan was the undisputed Ghazal King, and also excelled at film songs. I reveled in those songs, and such was my love for Mehdi Hassan’s voice, that even though eight out of ten Pakistani film songs — especially the ones by Noor Jahan and Nahid Akhtar — sounded more like nasal noise with loosely arranged, loud music with rough sounding strings arrangements, the remaining two gems that crept in, as if embarrassed, truly glittered – as lilting as the best melodies from India. A common factor, throughout, would be Mehdi Hassan’s voice.
The man with a truly gentlemanly voice sang dulcet romantic songs for some of the top Pakistani heroes, like Nadeem. Composed by the great Robin Ghosh (the music director from Bangladesh, who, while composing brilliantly written romantic songs picturized on the beautiful heroine Shabnam, fell in love with her and married her, to move ultimately to Bangladesh after a hugely successful musical career) and M Ashraf, perhaps Pakistan films’ most successful music director, and Kamal Ahmed and Tafu, along with others, these are some of the best songs Mehdi Hassan has sung.
Many of these Pakistani songs were copied by not only regular copycat Nadeem-Shravan, but Rajesh Roshan too. But this is about some great film songs by Mehdi Hasan, and I’m putting up 15 of my favourites.
Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mein: Here’s the first. You’ve heard his gentlemanly pleadings in the tone of “Tu mujh se khafa hai to zamaane ke liye aa.” Well, here’s the gentleman reminiscing in throaty commercial movie style: Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mein, Yun Hi Baaton Baaton Mein, Jheel Jaisei Aankhon Wali Ladke Se Mulaqaat Ho Gayi!”. Truly stylish singing, lyrics, and oh those arrangements and the really stylishly romantic tune composed by M Ashraf.
The lyrics ride a solid bass guitar, heavy but softly closed congas, brilliant piano accordion, with the antara flowing on an off-tabla beat. And Mehdi Hasan ruling the track. This is one avataar of Mehdi Hasan you mightn’t have heard. http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F50086791&show_artwork=true
Duniya Se Tujh Ko Chura Loon. This one’s an all-time favourite — a brilliantly composed, written, arranged and sung romantic ballad, composed by Robin Ghosh. A perfect example of perfect balance in a song. Melody, lyrics, musical performance, and that golden, smooth and gravelly voice of Mehdi Hasan. Perfection! Here it is: LISTEN TO ‘DUNIYA SE TUJH KO CHURA LOON’
Jhuke Jhuke Nainon Waale will let you savour pure Hindi lyrics by Riyaz-ur-Rehman Sagar, composed by M Ashraf. Mehdi Hasan sparkles in a song which, in its interludes, is musically arranged unlike anything you would have expected the Ghazal King to have sung! I love these these shuddh Hindi lyrics of the first antaraa:
Palkon Hi Palkon Mein, Bas Ik Pal Ko, Chup ke se kuchch aise dekha…
And, the next antara goes:
Janam Janam Ke Ye Ghaav Lagaa Dein, Nain-an Baan Ki Maar Na Poochho, Dil Bhi Zakhmi, Rooh Bhi Ghaayal, Iss Kajre Ki Dhaar Na Poochho…!
Amazing Hindi lyrics in a delightful commercial Pakistani film song
Do Pyase Dil Ek Huay Hain Aise – Composer Robin Ghosh sparkles again, with Mehdi Hasan and Mehnaz singing a brilliantly composed tune. Check the chorus too in this brilliantly orchestrated, ever-so-tightly arranged composition. Love the heavy muted congas, the crisp bongos, the acoustic Spanish guitar, and Mehdi Hasan’s and Mehnaaz’s voices. Check it out here: http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F50086795&show_artwork=true
Jhuke Jhuke Nainon Waale, (Chain Mera Le Gaye, Dard Anokha Mere Manwa Ko De Gaye). Savour these pure Hindi lyrics by Riyaz-ur-Rehman Sagar, composed by M Ashraf. Mehdi Hasan sparkles in a song which, in its interludes, is musically arranged unlike anything you would have expected the Ghazal King to have sung! And the tabla and dholak that Mehdi Hasan’s vocals ride are sweetly simple. And while you are at it, also savour these shuddh Hindi lyrics of the first antaraa: Palkon Hi Palkon Mein, Bas Ik Pal Ko, Chup ke se kuchch aise dekha… And, the next antara goes: Janam Janam Ke Ye Ghaav Lagaa Dein, Nain-an Baan Ki Maar Na Poochho…. Dil Bhi Zakhmi, Rooh Bhi Ghaayal, Iss Kajre Ki Dhaar Na Poochho…! Amazing Hindi lyrics in a delightful commercial Pakistani film song. With sweet smooth murkis from the Maestro. Enjoy! http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F50086799&show_artwork=true
Here are two great romantic ballads tuned by Robin Ghosh, sung by Mehdi Hasan: Tere Bheege Badan Ki Khushbu Se, a brilliant, intensely romantic song. Music director Robin Ghosh composed this for Nadeem and Shabnam. Brilliant lyrics by Masroor Anwar (if memory serves me right). Here it is. Enjoy this truly beautiful composition! It’s also got Runa Laila humming beautifully. What a brilliant amalgam of tune, lyrics, orchetration, and that great voice. Mehdi Hasan’s voice will never die. http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F50086804&show_artwork=true
And this one’s Pyar Bhare Do Sharmeele Nain (this is the filmy version, not the live ghazal version). Another brilliant piece of work by composer Robin Ghosh. LISTEN TO PYAR BHARE DO SHARMILE NAIN
Bahut Khoobsurat Hai Mera Sanam – This is the song that brazen copycats Nadeem-Shravan copied for one of their biggest hits in their heydays. Mehdi Hasan excels, again, singing the excellent lyrics by Khwaja Parvez in this beautiful, tuneful composition by Kamal Ahmed. No wonder Nadeem-Shravan’s photocopy of this song, Bahut Pyar Karte Hain Tumko Sanam, was a big hit. Enjoy the original! http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F50086790&show_artwork=true
Main Hoon Wafa Tu Hai Jaane Wafa, Kar Na Sakegi Ye Duniya Judaa. Mehdi Hassan, a brutally nasal Noor Jahan, a stunning, slow duet based on just the bass guitar, congas and a brilliant accordion – never heard such instrumental arrangements for a slowly meandering romantic ballad. Music by Tafu, and I believe his teenage son played the congas. Amazing stuff. Here it is. Don’t mind the brutally nasal Noor Jehan. Mehdi Hasan and the composition, and, as I said, the very different musical treatment plus arrangements, and the lyrics, are all excellent. Here it is. http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F50086802&show_artwork=true
Here are some other of my favourite Mehdi Hasan film songs. I’ve actually reduced the file sizes so they can load quickly, and you can still enjoy the rich, magical voice!
Bheegi Hui Aankhon Ka Kajal – Mehdi Hasan sings M Ashraf’s brilliant Tabla-Strings-Accordion-based composition. LISTEN TO ‘BHEEGI HUI AANKOHN KA KAJAL’
Dil Ko Kisi Dil Se Jab Pyar Ho Jata Hai – Mehdi Hasan and Mehnaz sing Robin Ghosh’s composition for Shabnam. Lovely romantic duet, very stylishly tuned; great lyrics, real instruments — not synthetic sampling. Love the guitar, congas, strings, flute, keyboards… amazing stuff. http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F50086794&show_artwork=true
Do Saathi Jeevan Ke – Sweetly simple melody, simple lyrics. Brilliantly arranged track. Mehdi Hassan and Mehnaaz again. Another beautifully composed, tightly arranged, well orchestrated track. Don’t miss the exquisitely crisp dholak, especially where the antaraas begin. And the strings, plus the bass this lovely tune rides.
Jis Din Se Dekha Hai Tumko Sanam. Another romantic gem from composer Robin Ghosh, in which Mehdi Hasan lends his voice to actor Nadeem singing his heart out for Shabnam, from the film Amber. The lyrics by, if I remember correctly were by Masroor Anwar, though a YoutTube video credits Taslim Fazli (another popular and successful Pakistani film lyricist). Whatever. Enjoy this song, right here:
Kabhi Main Sochta Hoon. A typical hero-singing-at-a-party kind of song. Another of Mehdi Hasan’s popular film songs from Pakistan.
Tere Siwa Duniya Mein. This song, from the film Shabana, composed by M Ashraf and written by Taslim Fazli, has got to be, in terms of the style and arrangements the song, the farthest from the great Ghazal King’s pristine live ghazal-singing avataar. Very filmy, this song, with fabulous congas (especially in the interludes and antaraas, especially in the antaraas, excellent acoustic guitar, keyboards, and strings. Here’s Mehdi Hasan sahab singing: ‘I Love You… Pyar Mera O Jaane Jaana, Bhool Na Jaana!’LISTEN TO ‘TERE SIWA DUNIYA MEIN’
Yeh Tera Aana: Another very popular song Mehdi Hasan sang for Pakistani films, this one is from the film Shama, composed by M Ashraf, with lyrics by – if memory serves me right — Taslim Fazli. This intensely romantic song lilts along on an exquisite, crisp tabla and dholak. And don’t miss the beautiful syncopation amongst the accordion, strings, flute and saxohpone in the interludes. Truly delightful. Here it is:
There are many more songs, beautiful ones, that Mehdi Hasan has sung for films. Love the voice! He’s given us so many soulful, peace-inducing ghazals, songs… may he rest in peace. Music, and especially the ghazal, is bereaved. As we know, the great Lata Mangeshkar described his voice as the Voice of God.
I hope someone lifts these tunes!
Years ago, I had met Anand Milind, and given them a tape of Pakistani songs I had liked. That tape contained a Robin Ghosh-composed melody, Sona Na Chandi Na Koi Mahal Jaane Man, Tujh Ko Main De Sakoonga, sung by Akhlaq Ahmed for the film Bandish. LISTEN TO ‘SONA NA CHANDI NA KOI MAHAL’ HERE
Sure enough, some time after I had handed over the tape, I heard the song Chhoti Si Duniya, a carbon copy of the melody, and not half as beautifully arranged. The film was Ek Ladka Ek Ladki, and the ‘composers’? Anand Milind. LISTEN TO ‘CHHOTI SI DUNIYA’ HERE
I’m just hoping some inspired Indian music director lifts a few melodies from the Mehdi Hassan songs above, and gives us something better than the wailing local-train-beggar voices singing strings-less synthetic ‘tunes’ made on a single copy-paster-of-atomatic-samples keyboard! OK, I’m exaggerating to make a point. But someone lift these tunes!