Jagjit Singh – The Maestro Who Implanted Ghazal in a Common Man’s Heart

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Ghazals depicted poetry, melody, emotions for him. He had a submissive onset in life. With Talat Mehmood, Lata Mangeshkar & Hemant Kumar as his idols. Soft spoken and charming, he had natural aura of his own. He had the ability to regale the audience with ghazals laced with jokes, anecdotes and improvisations.

Jagjit Singh, born Jagmohan Singh, on 8th February 1941, was a prominent Indian Ghazal singer, composer and musician. He gained acclaim in the 1970s and 1980s, along with his wife, also a singer, Chitra Singh. Jagjit Singh is attributed for the revival and popularity of ghazal. He chose poetry that was applicable to the masses, laying emphasis on the words and melody. With an amazing baritone, he highlighted music & lyrics at the same time and brought this genre in the drawing rooms of the common man. With him ghazals were no longer enclosed in aristocratic mehfils. His rich familiar voice made way in people’s heart giving them coherent joys and sorrows. He expanded the base of this genre, making it available and easy for a lay person. He did this by experimenting with the rhythm patterns, introducing some western music in it and streamlined the tunes to make them very melodic.

Simple tunes without any stunt or trick, his voice cast a spell on listeners be it a ghazal, a bhajan, a film song or a folklore. It acted as a sedative or embalmed your injured insight. He was also known for his kindness and generosity to others less privileged. At the start of his singing career, he auditioned for All India Radio, but could not secure a place for himself. He bounced back with more efforts and riyaz and finally got the job as a singer for AIR Jalandhar. Thereafter, shifting to Bombay, doing odd jobs, which included acting as an extra. Slowly, he obtained work initially as a singer of advertising jingles and later progressed to playback singing. He came into limelight with a path breaking album “The Unforgettable”. It transformed the entire ghazal scenario, making it unconventional and modern. He infused life in the dying genre of ghazal, stirring millions of hearts with his soulful numbers. The agony and melancholy in his voice was on outlet of emotions for many a lonely hearts.

Aman (1967) : Jagjit Singh (as a Sardar) played one of the friends of the hero Rajendra Kumar.
But after that he gradually turned his path towards music which was his forte.

A mixed bag of Jagjit Singh nuggets –

1. Avishkar (1974) – He, along with his wife, enthralled the audience with their rendition of the eternal “Babul Mora….” by Wajid Ali Shah.

2. Prem Geet (1981) – This film ensured his career in the industry as a singer as well as music director.

3. Arth (1982) – Taking the ghazal to dizzying heights of fame. Arth became a part of collection in every music lovers hearts.

4. Woh kagaz ki kashti – Bringing alive everyone’s childhood. Reminiscence and nostalgia galore!!!

5. Besabab baat badhane ki – Communicating the ghazal while he caressed the words. Setting him apart from rest of the singers.

6. Hazaron khwaishein aisi – It was as if Mirza Ghalib knew that Jagjit Singh will bring out his ghazals for the common man to understand and take it to next level, making it deeper with every word he sang!!

7. Ek purana mausam lauta – Marasim – the combination of beautiful lyrics and soothing voice. Capturing the feelings of the audience.

Pathos, innocence and beauty in the words that is delivered adroitly, that’s Jagjit Singh. He knew the weightage of words, the significance of those phrases and the way it is brought out to the audience. He knew the joys and sorrows, the content and the meaning, in and out.
For as Gulzar says, “He was like a cool shower, drenching us all with his renditions….a cool shower of soothing voice – Jagjit Singh!!”

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan

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