Grace and Flow: Mehdi Hassan

mehdi

A little New Year’s gift for all the dear followers of Harmonium.

 

This album claims to capture Mehdi Hassan live in concert in New York. I find that to be a somewhat dubious statement as each track has a very ‘studio’ feel to it. Clean, sonically level and with none of the rough edges and spoken asides that accompany all live performances.

 

But I’m happy to be proven wrong.

 

Regardless of the veracity of the album’s title, the music is top quality. Mehdi’s tenor is suave and unforced. He delivers each ghazal with the panache of the supremely accomplished, hardly breaking a sweat. That doesn’t mean he is simply running through the material passion-baghair. Rather, he is at the top of his game. In the flow and full of grace.

 

And that seems to be a good attitude to possess as one year ends and another is soon to begin.

 

Happy New Year 2017. Thank you for dropping by from time to time!

mh-in-ny-v-5-front

mh-in-ny-v-5-back

Track Listing:

01 Fitrat ka wo Paimana Bata Yaad Hahin Hai

02 Kabhi Kaha na Kisi Se Tere Fasane Ko Na Jane Kaise Khabbar ho Gayi Zamane Ko

03 Haath Men le ke Jam-e-mai Aaj Wo Muskara Diya

04 Gulon ki Baat Karo

05 Ajab Janoon-e-mussafat Mein Ghar se Nikla Tha

06 Yoon to Pahle Bhi Hui Us Se Kayi Baar Juda

07 Sehar Hoi Bhi to Ham ne Deeye Bhujai Nahin

MHv5NY

Rare Pressing: Mehdi Hassan

394214-MehdiHassanILLUSTRATIONJAMALKHURSHID-1339757387-842-640x480

It just so happened that a friend and former colleague messaged me one day. Her father was getting rid of his music collection and there was quite a bit of vinyl of old Indian and Pakistani music. Should she bring it down to Melbourne next time she was in town?

The gentleman in question, who has so kindly gifted these records to me, is a Sikh from the Chakwal area of Punjab in modern day Pakistan. At the age of 11 he was forced, like nearly every other Sikh in that part of the world, to flee with his family to India. The biggest transaction of human capital and one of the biggest human, not to mention political and cultural tragedies ever to visit any country was underway in the form of the Partition of British India.

Our hero studied agriculture in India but left for Australia to pursue graduate study while still just a young man. It was the 1950s. Australia’s infamously racist White Australia immigration policy was at its peak. How a turbaned Sikh managed to make it through the bureaucratic defense systems is a story I’ve yet to be told. [About 20 years later our art teacher at school, one of India’s finest talents, who was married to an Australian, struggled for years before he managed to get an entry visa!]

Once landed he married a Latvian woman, had a family of find Latvian-Punjabi-English speaking children and developed a career as an educationist in Queensland.

One day soon I hope to have the privilege to meet him in the flesh. I will thank him for his music collection and I hope he will tell me stories of pre Partition India and 1950s Australia.

It is a joy to share the first album from his collection.

This is a rare record in that there were probably no more than a few hundred pressed. Clearly the work of music fans and homesick immigrants, this record is entitled Latest Edition in Love and Romance. It is a collection of ghazals from the modern master of the form, Mehdi Hassan.

The label, Oscar Records, has a replica of the famous golden statuette as its logo. One can safely bet that the brains behind this effort was one Mr Asghar, whose enterprise, Asghar International also gets billing on the back of the album.

The vintage of the selected ghazals is well loved rather than rare. Mr Asghar appears to have had connections and good relations with executives of EMI, Pakistan, whom he thanks for their cooperation in producing the album.

A final note of interest is the label on the front of the album which indicates the record was purchased at Ambika’s Record Bar in Vancouver, British Columbia. So altogether, a well journeyed record/music: Pakistan, New York, Vancouver, Queensland and finally to my humble home in Melbourne.

I’ve cleaned the vinyl a bit but only minimally. It is in outstanding condition, considering its date of release (early-mid 80s, I would guess).

Mehdi Hassan latest edition front

Mehdi Hassan Latest edition back

Enjoy immensely.

Track Listing:

01 Jidhar Deedaye Jana Hongay

02 Hosh-e-hasti se begana banaya hota

03 Jal Bhi Chuke Parwane

04 Tere Zalim

05 Garche Sau Bar Gham-e-hijr se Jan Guzri Hai

MH

Tohfa-e-shab-e-Sunday: Mehdi Hassan

Mehdi Hassan

Mehdi Hassan

The weekend is coming to a close.  The working week will be full once more and in all likelihood, I will not be able to pay much attention to this humble blog until next weekend.

 

As I type, I’m smiling with sublime pleasure to the Persian poem of Amir Khusrau, Mara Dosh Goyi. Mehdi Hassan is a treasure I’ve been slow to truly appreciate. Only in recent years have I begun to understand (and love) his artistry.  I wish had words to commend him to you who don’t yet know him (very few readers I’m sure).

 

So, as a special Sunday evening treat, I post the remaining 4 volumes of his Urdu film songs, which I hope you will prize as much as I do.

mehdi cinema 2

Track Listing (vol 2)

02 Shikwa Na Kare

03 Zindagi Jaa Chor De

04 Tumhe Dekhon Tumhare

05 Dil Veeran Hai

06 Ulfat ka Sila

08 Nazaron Bhare Aahein

09 Apnoon ne Gham Diya

10 Jo Bazahir Ajnabi

11 Duniya ko Hum Kya

12 Kaise Jiyenge Dard Ko

13 Ab ke hum Bichray

14 Ek Baar Chale Aao

15 Kabhi Meri Mohabbat

17 Dil Bahut Udaas Hai

18 Mujhko Awaaz Do

★★

mehdi cinema 3

Track Listing (vol 3)

01 Mujhe Tum Nazar Se

02 Saamne Aake Tujhko

03 Jisne Mere Dil

04 Ishq Sacha Hai To Phir

05 Tumhara Aakri Karloon

06 Dil Main Toofan Chupai

07 Ishq Mera Diwana

08 Mohabbat Zindagi Hai

09 Aaj To Ghair Sahi

10 Tu Hussun hi Devi

11 Mere Humdum Tujhe

12 Naina re Naina

13 Ranjish Hi Sahi

14 Kyun Hum se Khafa

15 Jo Dard Mila

17 Mere Pyar Tere

★✪★

Mehdi Hassan cinema 4

Track Listing (vol 4)

01 Teri Mehfil Se

02 Ga Mere Diwaane Dil

03 Jaan-e-Jaan Tu Jo

04 Jo Mila Usne

05 Bewafa Kaun Hai

06 Sulag Raha Hoon Badlon

07 Hamare Dil Se Mat Khelo

08 Khuda Kare Mohabbat

09 Yeh Jhuke Jhuke Nigha Hai

10 Naam Aaye Na

11 Mera Imaan Mohabbat

12 Duniya Kisi ke Pyar

13 Ek Sitam Aur Meri Jaan

14 Gar Tum Haseen Na Hote

15 Kaha Jo Marne

16 Na Koi Gila

17 Ek Nai Mord

18 Tere Mere Pyar

★✪★✪

mehdi cinema 5

Track Listing (vol 5)

01 Ek Husn ki Devi

02 Hamare Sanson Mein

03 Tere Beeghe Badan Ki

04 Pyar Bhare Do Sharmelee

05 Thera Hai Samaa

06 Kabhi Main Sochta Hun

07 Yeh Duniya Rahe Na Rahe

08 Yeh Tera Aana

09 Mere Sawne Mehbooba

10 Tere Siwa Duniya Mein

11 Main Jis Dil Bhula Doon

12 Tujhe Pyar Karte Karte

13 Bahut Khubsurat Mera Sanam

14 Kehne ko Yeh Ek

15 Rafta Rafta Woh Mere

★✪★✪★

Filmi Naghme: Mehdi Hassan

Pakposters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darkness is come.

Lights flicker along the highway and from the skyline.

My body is numb; tired of the long slog.

My soul is flat. But Mehdi, singing old film songs lifts my spirits.

Without undue tardiness, neither without too swift haste,

We commend to you the zauq and sharifana of some older

Sounds of Lahore film studios

Artist. Mehdi Hassan.

Mazaa luto!

 Legends_ Urdu Films Vol. 1

Track listing:

01 Kissa-e-gham Main

03 Yeh Kaghaz-e-Phool

04 Jab Koi Pyar Se

05 Jab Bhi Chahai

06 Main Jo Shayr Kabhi

07 Aaj Tak Yaad Hai Woh

08 Tume Mubarak Naee

09 Bahut Yaad Aayenge

10 Yeh Wafa ka Diya

11 Cheer Na Hum

12 Hume koi Gham

14 Kaise Kasie Log

15 Tanha Thi Aur Tamasha

16 Mere Dil Ka Taar

17 Dil Diya Dard Liya

18 Aa Roshenon Ke

★★★

The Parrot of India: Amir Khusrau

parrot

Amir Khusrau is one of those historical figures credited with all manner of inventions, inspirations and the beginning of many movements and trends.  Most famously, he is identified in the South Asian popular imagination, as the spiritual father of Indian (in the non-geographic sense of the word) music.  His admirers and exponents claim that he invented the sitar and tabla.  That he created new forms of music including qawwali, tarana and even the classical khyal.

Like most hoary figures of the past, it is not entirely possible to say precisely exactly what Khusrau’s contribution to Indian music was. But historians are in general agreement that he was a heavily influential figure, and akin to what the modern age has termed a Renaissance Man.  Poetry, mystical reflection, music, art, social comment and history, as well as foreign languages were all fields of the great man’s accomplishment.  And the very fact that so many branches of subcontinental culture trace their origins to this medieval genius suggests that he was indeed, a Spirit to contend with.

Though born in a northern part of India now known as Uttar Pradesh, his father was a Turkic member of the upper classes of Central Asia who fled to India to escape the horrible, sweeping invasions of the Mongol hordes. Ab’ul Hasan Yamin al-Din Khusrow, who later became known as Amir Khusrau, was a boy of prodigious intellect and intellectual curiosity.  Fluent in several languages, including Persian and Arabic, he seemed to have been born with an innate understanding of poetry. Indeed, his Persian compositions are considered some of the greatest literary works in that language.  In modern Iran, Khusrau, is regarded as one of the most brilliant exponents of the Persian language, not very far below Hafiz and Sa’adi.

As a young man he met and became a disciple of the patron saint of Delhi, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. Separated by only a few years they two men became very close associates and companions.  Of all his many disciples, the great Sufi, considered Khusrau to be his dearest and most loved.  Famously, he requested to for the two to share the same grave! While this, of course, did not happen, Amir Khusrau died several month after this Spiritual mentor and is buried next to him at a shrine that is one of Delhi’s most revered. One of many tales told of the men’s mutual affection and respect is included below:

Khusrau and Nizamuddin

Khusrau and Nizamuddin

 

Nizamuddin Auliya had thousands of disciples. Out of them, 22 were totally devoted disciples who considered him as God Incarnate.

Once, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya thought of putting them to a test. He roamed around with his disciples for the whole day in the market of Delhi. As night fell, he went to a brothel. The prostitute led him upstairs with great respect and courtesy. All the disciples were waiting downstairs in anticipation, ‘Guruji should be coming down soon…he should be coming soon.’

The prostitute was immensely pleased and wondered as to what stroke of fortune had brought this saintly person to her place. She said to Auliyaji, “I have been blessed by your presence here. In what way, may I render service to you?”

Auliya told her, “Instruct your maid to bring food on a platter along with water in a liquor bottle, in such a manner that my disciples get the impression that I have asked for food and liquor.”

The prostitute had but to obey the command. She instructed her maid accordingly.

After a little while, the maid carried the food and the liquor bottle upstairs as per the instructions. Some of the disciples contemplated, ‘We were under a mistaken impression…Guruji is not what we have been thinking all along. He has asked for liquor!’ Thinking thus, some of the disciples ran away 

As the night progressed, more and more of his disciples left one by one. Finally, it was dawn, and Auliya came downstairs.

He saw only Amir Khusro waiting for him. Feigning ignorance, he enquired, “Where have the others gone?”

Amir Khusro replied, “All have left.”

Auliya asked, “Why did you not leave? Didn’t you notice that I had asked for liquor, and spent the whole night with the prostitute.

Amir Khusro replied, “O Master! I might have left, but where could I have gone except towards your lotus feet?”

Benign Grace poured out of Nizamuddin Auliya’s heart, and he said, “Your wait is now over. You are accomplished.”

Such was the single pointed faith of Amir Khusro. Even to this day, the shrine of Amir Khusro beside that of Nizamuddin Auliya reminds us of a sincere disciple’s devotion to Guru, a disciple’s unshakable faith in Guru.

Click here for a lovely article on the relationship between these two mighty men of the middle ages by the poet, Aparna Chatterjee.

Today’s selection is a brilliant 3 CD collection of Amir Khusrau’s music and poetry produced by EMI.  All performances are by Pakistani artists, some internationally renown (Sabri Brothers, Ghulam Ali, Mehdi Hassan), some less so (Bilqees Khanum, Ishrat Jehan, Ijaz Hussain Hazravi). All of the material is fantastic and I especially like the several tunes by Mehnaaz and the Bilqees Khanum/Ishrat Jehan combo.  This is indeed, a fine tribute to the man who called himself, the Parrot of India (Toot al Hindi).

Amir Khusroo Amir Khusroo_back

Track Listing (1)

01 Chhaap Tilak Sab Chheeni[Sabri Brothers]

02 Khabram Raseedah [Iqbal Bano]

03 Sakal Ban Phool Rahi Sarson [Bilqees Khanum and Ishrat Jehan]

04 Beshagufta Gul [Ghulam Ali]

05 Man Kunto Maula [Sabri Brothers]

06 Achchhe Banne Mehndi Laawan De [Bilqees Khanum and Ishrat Jehan]

07 Ek Sajan Mere Man Ko Bhaawe [Arifa Siddiqui]

08 Mara Dosh Goyi [Mehdi Hassan]

09 Har Shab Manam [Ijaz Hussain Hazravi]

10 Sajan Yeh Mat Jaaniyo [Nasima Shaheen and Nighat Seema]

11 Hare Hare Baans [Bilqees Khanum and Ishrat Jehan]

♪♪♫

Track Listing (2)

01 Nami Danam [Sabri Brothers]

02 Jaan Ze Tan [Ghulam Ali]

03 Mohe Rakh Le Tu Aaj Ka Din [Bilqees Khanum and Ishrat Jehan]

04 Mai To Piya Se Naina Laga Aayi Re [Arifa Siddiqui]

05 Man Banda [Mehdi Hassan]

06 Abr Mere Bar Doman [Iqbal Bano]

07 Ae Chehra [Ijaz Hussain Hazravi]

08 Ambwa Tale Dola Rakh De [Bilqees Khanum and Ishrat Jehan]

09 Goondho Re Maalan Phoolon Ka Sehra [Mehnaaz]

10 Khabram Raseedah [Sabri Brothers]

♪♪♫

Track Listing (3)

01 Aaj Rang Hai [Sabri Brothers]

02 Chali Re Nayi Naar [Mehnaaz]

03 Amma Mere Baba Ko Bhejo [Bilqees Khanum and ishrat Jehan]

04 Kahe Ko [Sabri Brothers]

05 Aaj To Na Mai Aisi Banaungi [Nahid Akhtar]

06 Chhaap Tilak Sab Chheeni [Bilqees Khanum and Ishrat Jehan]

07 Kahe Ko Byaahe Bides [Nasima Shaheen and Nighat Seema]

08 Zehaal-E-Miskin [Sabri Brothers]

09 Daiya Re Mohe Bhejo [Bilqees Khanum and ishrat Jehan]

10 Aaj Ye Kaun Sa Mehmaan Aaya [Hamid Ali Khan]

♪♪♫