Shahenshah-e-Ghazal Mehdi Hassan, facing financial constraints during his critical illness and living a secluded life at a hospital in Karachi, wishes to visit India, his country of birth and not many know that he has been offered help by none other than Lata Mangeshkar.
“He had been in India almost three years back. He wishes to visit India again. One organisation in Mumbai had arranged a felicitation programme for him but that has been postponed after Mumbai terror attack. We are waiting for better atmosphere across the border so that we can take him there,” his son Arif told PTI from Karachi.
Hassan, confined in a room in Karachi’s Aga Khan University hospital, is suffering from lung infection, fever and weakness. Born in Rajasthan, the 82-year-old artiste had completely departed from music in late 90s after the paralytic stroke.
He will be discharged soon as his family finding it hard to pay medical bills. Although he will need 24 hours care at home as well.
“We have already spent 10-12 lakh on hospital bills in last two months. He will be discharged soon but we need round the clock care for him at home which is very costly. I have urged Pakistan Government to help. We can not afford this treatment on our own,” Arif, who arranges stage shows, said.
"Zindgi me to sabhi", "Patta patta buta buta" and “Ranjishen sahi’ fame veteran singer has been offered help from none other than Lata Mangeshkar who believes that his voice is the “Voice of God”.
“When Lataji came to know about his illness, she offered to bear all his medical expenses. Her nephew Adinath had called me and asked to come to Mumbai. We are grateful for her concern,” Arif said.
“My father was never interested in commercialisation of art. He did not market himself. He used to perform free of cost in several functions. Recordings and stage shows were the main source of income to run a huge family,” he said.
“Although he could not save much money but he is happy with his musical journey. Despite being on the pinnacle in his field he has always been keen to learn. He used to say that ‘Sangeet to dariya hai, jitna utro utna apne anjan hone ka pata chalta hai. (Music is like a sea. You know your ignorance when you take a dip in it.),“ said the son of legendary singer.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has given Rs one million for his treatment. Arif said that apart from Pakistan Government several Indian artistes and politicians offered them help. In 2002 Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then prime minister of India and avid fan of Hassan, wrote a letter to offer help from Indian government.
Hassan saheb went to Kerala in 2000 for treatment and there he performed on stage for the last time, Arif said.