How Lata Mangeshkar and Mehdi Hassan made their first and last duet a reality

New Delhi: Melody queen Lata Mangeshkar and ‘Shehanshah-e-Ghazal’ Mehdi Hassan belonged to each other’s mutual admiration clubs and their dream of collaborating for a ‘duet’ almost didn’t come true.

Mehdi Hassan’s son Kamran Hassan, a singer himself, reveals the song “Tera Milna Bahut Achha Lage Hai” would have not seen the light of day had Mangeshkar and his father not recorded their tracks separately to be later compiled into a full-fledged track.

The song was Mehdi Hassan and Mangeshkar’s first and last duet together which was released in 2010.

“My father and Lata ji were huge fans of each other. I remember when he visited India for the last time in 2007 for his treatment, Lata ji had invited us for lunch,” Kamran Hassan told PTI from Chicago as he mourned the loss of Mangeshkar, who passed away Sunday morning at a Mumbai hospital following COVID-related complications.

Kamran Hassan said it was the last meeting between his father, the melodious voice behind evergreen ghazals like “Patta Patta, Boota Boota” and “Ranjish Hi Sahi”, and Mangeshkar which went on for around six hours at the latter’s house in Mumbai.

“It was their last meeting. He spent around six hours at her home and both of them were very happy. Lata ji even asked someone to bring her personal camera to click their pictures together,” he said.

Rajasthan-born Pakistani singer Mehdi Hassan died on 13 June 2012 at Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi after suffering a 12-year-long tenure of lung, chest and urinary tract diseases.

“They both wanted to sing together so we sent a few tracks sung by my father to her in 2004-05. They were recorded in my studio in Los Angeles, while Lata ji recorded her part in Mumbai. The music was rearranged in Mumbai and both versions were compiled together for a duet,” he added.

In a 2010 interview with PTI, Mangeshkar had also expressed happiness on the duet with Mehdi Hassan.

“Mehdi Saab always wanted to sing with me. In fact, he sent me two-three recorded songs years ago but he had to quit singing due to his prolonged illness. ‘Tera Milna’ is one of them. We have made a duet compiling the two versions recorded separately.

“When our one and only duet was launched, we sent him tapes of that. He was critically ill and could not understand the song. It was very unfortunate,” she had said.

This was an exceptional case where Mangeshkar agreed to record her part separately. Otherwise, she always preferred recording songs along with her co-singer and music director.

“Earlier, we used to record songs with other singers and music directors. I miss the era of singing with Mukeshji, Rafi saab or Kishoreda. We used to practice a lot and it used to be a team effort. But now singers record their version separately which I don’t find interesting,” she had told PTI.

According to Kamran Hassan, Mangeshkar and Mehdi Hassan first met in 1975 in Toronto when he was on the USA-Canada tour. He always visited her whenever he was in India after that, his son added.

“Lata ji especially came to Toronto from Kingston to meet him. She removed her footwear outside the green room as a mark of respect. My father was touched with this gesture,” he added.

Kamran Hassan said his father did not like comparisons but once when a journalist asked him about who was a better singer between Noor Jahan and Mangeshkar, he had replied, “Noor jahan ki aawaz mein pukhtagi (maturity) hai to Lata ji ki aawaz mein pakeezgi ka ehsaas (feeling of purity) hai.” Kamran Hassan said Mangeshkar’s death is “a big void for all of us”.

“She was loved by everyone for her soulful singing. There will not be another Lata Mangeshkar or Mehdi Hassan. They have left us but their music will remain forever,” he added.

Also read | Didi and I: Asha Bhosle remembers sister Lata Mangeshkar

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