Lata Mangeshkar bids the ghazal maestro goodbye

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Lata Mangeshkar & Mehdi Hassan
 
MUMBAI: “Jo baat unki awaaz mein tthi woh kisiki awaaz mein nahin tthi. He was blessed by God.And it pained me to see him suffer so much in the last ten years. Only God knows what he was suffering for. He had a very unique vocal identity.
 
Many tried to sing Ghazals like him. But Mehdi Saab was Mehdi Saab..I recorded a song with him under very peculiar circumstances. We were supposed to sing a duet Tera milna bahut achcha lagta hai with him. Due to his ill health he couldn’t come to India and I couldn’t go to Pakistan. So we recorded the duet about milna bahu achcha lagta hai (how much we like meeting) without meeting. Such is the irony of life.
 
It was his composition and we should’ve sung it together. He later said that he had only one regret as a  musician, that he couldn’t sing  with me. I remember by the time we sent the tape of our duet to him he was unable to understand fully what was going on around him…His final years were not happy. You see, when you are younger you often fail to plan for your  later years. Mehdi Saab spent so much money on his family. He had 13 children and I’ve heard the entire family, including his married daughters with their husbands and children lived together in that house he had built.I met him for the first time in Canada some 40 years ago. I had gone to Kingston and we drove all the way to Ottawa for his concert.
 
To my utter surprise as soon I entered the auditoriam he stopped his performance and got up with all his musicians to welcome me. He later came to meet me in Kingston.When he performed in Mumbai for the first time I was there at the concert.I spoke at the concert.
 
The last time I met him was some years ago. He came home to meet me. He had already suffered a paralytic stroke and he was on a wheelchair. When he was wheeled into my home my sister-in-law Bharti (Hridaynath Mangeshkar’s wife) broke down. We were all his fans. When he saw me he broke down and cried.I think he was saddened by the fact that he met me in such a condition.
 
He loved my Marathi song Mehndi cha panaware composed by my brother Hridaynath…He was ill for 9-10 years. He was in a lot of pain. He didn’t deserve to suffer so much."