Kozhikode: He left with a promise that he would return to the city to sing again. And when the news broke amongst music lovers in the city of Mehdi Hassan’s demise on Wednesday, it was also confirmation that it was a promise he would not be able to keep. Hassan had performed at the Tagore Centenary Hall in 2002 - reportedly his last in India - and the performance came in unusual circumstances.
“Hassan, whose health was failing, had come to Delhi afterthe then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee invited him where he was told by Manna Dey that the treatment at Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala would be veryeffective. They then contacted me to see if I could arrange for his treatment at thefacility and I was only too happyto do so,” said Muslim League leader P V Abdul Wahab, who was one of the men behind Hassan’s Kozhikode performance.
Hassan was under treatment at Kottakkal for two weeks and at its completion, could not refuse a request from hisbenefactors to perform in the city. The then state culture minister M A Baby alsoexpressed interest in organising the programme. The performance took place before a packed Tagore Centenary Hall, according to music critic Ravi Menon.
“It waspouring that day but the Tagore Hall was still packed to the brim. Hassan’s health was still bad and he was supported to the stage by a couple of helpers. But his voice showed no signs of illness. He performed for one-and-a-half hours and delivered many of his popular numbers including ‘Pyaar Bhare Do Sharmeele Nain’, ‘Gulon Mein Rang Bhare’ and ‘Mujhe Tum Nazar Se’," he said.
“After the performance, the audience kept requesting him for more but he was unable to fulfil them due to his ill health. Backstage, he told organisers that he regretted not coming to Kozhikode before and promised them one day, after his health improved, he would surely visit the city again,” Menon said.