When Mehdi Hassan and Lata Mangeshkar's voice echoed across 'Sarhadein'

Pakistani ghazal maestro and the Indian songstress recorded a duet for the album Sarhadein

Mayur Lookhar

Mehdi Hassan, Lata Mangeshkar 

India and Pakistan have always had strong cultural ties. The current political climate may not be condusive for cross border cultural exchanges, but there were times when Pakistani artistes had the privilege of performing in India without fear. 

The two countries have been blessed with many a great singers, but its hard to think of anyone being more popular than Lata Mangeshkar and ghazal maestro Mehdi Hassan. The latter was born in Rajasthan, India, but moved to Pakistan following the partition. While he's performed few times in India, Hassan sadly never sang for a Hindi film.

In 1997, Lata Mangeshkar graced a concert by Hassan in New Delhi. She was so moved by the Pakistani great that she'd famously remarked: "Apke gale mein Bhagwein bolte hain (God speaks through your voice)." Despite the political tensions, the two artistes always maintained mutual admiration. 

Fans across the border often yearned to see the two greats together. Unfortunately, post 1980 Hassan's ill health forced him to step down from playback singing.

The long wait wait for fans ended in 2010, when Mehdi agreed to do a duet with Mangeshkar in the private album Sarhadein that was released by HMV. The song was called 'Tera Milna', written by Farhat Shahzad. Mehndi himself composed the music.  

The 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and Hassan's health made it impossible for the two stars to be present togther for the duet. Indian singers seldom travelled to Pakistan. So, Hassan recorded his part in Pakistan, while Mangeshkar did hers in Mumbai in 2010. 

Speaking at the press conference of the album, Mangeshkar stated that it was dream come true to have a duet with Hassan. The Knightingale of India disclosed how the duo was keen to work together in the 80s, but Hassan's health didn't allow that. However, despite his health troubles, Hassan had written 4-5 songs for Lata Mangeshkar and he'd mailed it to the songstress. One of those songs was Tera Milna, which was chosen for Sarhardein. 

Sarhadein also featured tracks from other greats such as Ghulam Ali, Usha Mangeshkar, and gen-next stars such as Sonu Nigam. However, it's difficult to find a better track in the album than Mangeshkar and Hassan's duet. 

"Tera Milna Bahot Accha Lagey Hain, Muhje Tu Mere Dukh Jaisa Lagey Hain" -  after listening to this poetry, who could say that duo recorded their respective portions separately. 

Hassan passed away on 13 June, 2012. Mangeshkar was among the millions who mourned the death of the ghazal maestro. Paying rich tribute to the singer, Mangeshkar said that a voice like Mehdi Hassan's may never be heard again.