Mehdi Hassan was a legendary singer who got chance to sing Ghazals and songs at Radio Pakistan Karachi in 1952, where his uncle Ismael Khan was established as a music director. He also got chance to sing for some Karachi made movies but failed to make any progress. His first film was Shikar but Kanwari Beva was released first in the same year 1956. He struggled many years and 1962 became a lucky year for him, when his three songs were hit. His all time hit Ghazal Gullon mein rang bharay... in film Farangi (1964) gave him breakthrough as playback singer.
Mehdi Hassan was regarded unsuitable for playback singing by many music critics but his 650 film songs in 440 movies are third best after Masood Rana and Ahmad Rushdi's 900+ songs and 500+ movies. His peak period was in the 1970s and after the downfall of Urdu movies in the 1980s, he was ignored by the music directors. Since he mostly sang in private functions. Later due to severity of his illness he completely departed from music. His last film was Chann Puttar (2001).
Khan Sahib Mehdi Hassan was born in the village of Luna, Jaipur in Rajasthan, India in 1927. He was the 16th generation of hereditary musicians hailing from the Kalawant. Kala means "Art" and Kalawant means "artist". He received his musical training under his father, Ustad Azeem Khan and his uncle Ustad Ismail Khan. They instructed him in classical music and voice production within the framework of classical forms of Thumri, Dhrupad, Khayal and Dadra. From the young age of eight Mehdi Hassan started to perform with his elder brother Ghulam Qadir Khan as Darbari Gawayya and the first concert of Dhrupad and Kheyal at the darbar of Maharaja of Barodah.
After the independence, 20 years old Mehdi Hassan and his family migrated to Pakistan and settled in Cheecha Watni, district Sahiwal. He sang in few musical functions in Lahore but could not achieve any success. He also worked at Pancholi film studio Lahore and began working in a bicycle shop and later became a car and diesel tractor mechanic. Despite the hardships, his passion for music didn't wither and he kept up the daily routine of practice.
Khan Sahib Mehdi Hassan died on June 13, 2012 at Karachi. He had two wives and 14 kids, only Asif Mehdi got some fame as singer.