Remembering the Ghazal King JAGJIT SINGH

Kaagaz Ki Kashti grand collector`s pack launch, held on 8th February, 2018 at the Turf Club, Mumbai.

One of the silken voices of all times, Jagjit Singh’s popularity traversed continents and multiple generations, making Ghazal a house hold genre, in the days when the form was almost on the verse of extinction. He gave his own thought, rhythm and simple prose to the art of ‘Ghazal’ singing making it reachable to the lamest audiences, who once thought it to be quite an intellectual affair. His form of music made its own impression, which did not depend on Bollywood to widen his mass appeal.

It was on his 77th Birth Anniversary, that all his fans, and connoisseurs gathered to pay tribute to the Ghazal Emperor. On the occasion a documentary film "Kagaaz Ki Kashti" was presented by the director Brahmanand S Siingh that took one and all present there, through an emotional journey. Launched by his better half Chitra Singhji, the Film was kind of a chronological, biographic sketch in the life of the maestro with interesting trivia from his close family, friends and business associates, who remembered many incidents, exploring not just the musician but the man behind it all… 

Jagmohan Singh Dhiman alias Jagjit Singh was a Sikh from Punjab, born in a middle class family on 8th February 1941 in Sriganganagar. Young Jagjit was quite a rebel, as he chose to run away from his home, than to fulfill his father’s ambitions of becoming an IAS officer and landed in the tinsel town city Mumbai hustling his way up in showbiz in 1965. He started of his career by performing at home Baithaks, until in 1976, he cut his hair for his first album. He met Chitra Dutta and recorded a couple of jingle duets with her. Eventually the duo fell in love with each other and decided to tie the knot in 1970. Then followed his path-breaking Unforgettable journey of Jagjit-Chitra Singh.

Jagjit Singh showcased great depth in his renditions, as he composed and sang a whole galaxy of the finest Urdu stalwarts especially like ‘Mirza Ghalib’ in Gulzar Saheb’s TV series on the poet, that featured legendary actor Nasseruddin Shah as ‘Ghalib’ and Jagjit’s became his voice, that exhibited a plethora of emotions ranging from love, pain, loneliness…

His albums ‘Unforgettables”, “Beyond Time” and especially the “Milestone” were undisputed Jagjit-Chitra masterpieces, bestowing their flawless singing, exquisite lyrical artistry and exquisite orchestral arrangements in the tracks like 'Baat niklegi to phir door talak jaayegi’ by the poet Kafeel Aazer, ‘Sarakhti jaaye rukh se naqaab ahista ahista’ by Ameer Minai and Firaq Gorakhpuri's ‘Raat bhi neend bhi kahani bhi’ wherein each song happens to be a gem in itself.

Endowed with an infectious sense of humor Jagjit Singh would lift up his audience’s moods thereby amalgamating the  ghazals with classical melodies, Punjabi folk, that were interwoven in his repertoire, transcending his audiences through waves of emotions like a roller coaster ride, ranging from the depths of seriousness to light hearted humor, taking his  audiences into an outburst of loud laughter’s and again bringing them back to the serene mood of his Gayaki. He was a magician who enchanted his viewers, regardless of the demographics, eventually making everyone happy.  His tracks like 'Hothon Se Chhoo Lo Tum' has even inspired the youngsters of today to sing a Ghazal, as his songs were simple, yet struck a deep connect, straight with his love struck listeners. His songs treated the intricacies of both love and separation very gently. 'Tum Ko Dekha To Ye Khayal Aaya' depicts a lover romanticizing his beloved in his thoughts while 'Jhuki Jhuki Si Nazar' describes a lovers inquisitiveness to know if his lady, feels the same as he does for her?

“His voice was like a live experience that could equally have the purity and the layman on his side” praises the Tabla Maestro Zakir Hussain in Brahmanand Singh’s Documentary, displaying the unique elements, behind this popular singer-composer. The documentary portrays Jagjit Singh as a man full of life, who believed in being happy at any given moment and never showing his pain or the sense of personal loss, the pain that he deeply felt as a father, who lost his grown-up son in a tragic road accident. He became all the more lonely even on the stage as his wife and duet companion Chitra left singing, after the traumatic incident. His voice reverberated his pain and soaked even his audiences in tears, when he sang “Chiti na koi Sandes.”

Crowds at launch, Turf Club Mumbai.

I watched portions of Kaagaz Ki Kashti together with moist-eyed crowds, who all came together to pay him a tribute. The film portrayed Jagjit Singh as a man who bestowed great values, integrity and compassion towards the needy, as he made huge donations to the poor and also took great care of his entire family. The man with an  impeccable sense of humour and a zest for life, lived life king size. Music being his foremost love and passion, he even enjoyed breeding Horses and tried gambling in casino’s too!

Bhajan singer Anoop Jalota and Jagjit Singh were in Dehradun that October (2011) and performed at a festival. Jalota remembers to have enjoyed his company singing with him and having a great time together. When they came back to Mumbai, Jagjit Singh was hospitalized as he was detected a brain haemorrhage  and  passed away on October 10, 2011 at the age of 70, which came as a heartbreaking news to all his connoisseurs. Jagjit Singh’s departure created a great void in the ghazal scene that no one could replenish leaving the Ghazal king’s throne still unchallenged. He left an indelible mark in the hearts of numerous music aficionados with his mesmerizing voice, that was indeed a melodious experience, where poetry melted with its sweetness, that was a part of his eternal being.



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To purchase Kaagaz ki Kasthi Gift Pack - Jagjit Singh . Photo courtesy Payal Kumar.