October 10, 2011
The ‘Ghazal King’ of India, Jagjit Singh, will not be singing any more to his millions of fans for whom he gave numerous mind soothing ghazal hits that will now become history. Hitting the right notes with lyrics that breathed an air of freshness and hope in life, Jagjit Singh made lonely hearts weep with his resounding singing voice that had an effect with every lover of life.
Fighting death without success, Jagjit Singh succumbed to brain hemorrhage at the age of 70. Very interestingly, he was admitted to the hospital hours before he was scheduled to perform at a concert in Mumbai along with another renowned singer Ghulam Ali Khan.
A larger than life singer who made name solely with ghazal singing, Jagjit went on to stun his audiences with a voice and style that could not be similar to any other singer. The voice with the strain of pain and sadness coupled with the soul stirring lyrics ensured that there was more to life than anything else in this world. For the musically minded avid listener there was purity and meaning in his ghazals.
Jagjit’s father Amar Singh realized the potential in his son and sent him to train under a blind teacher Pandit Chhaganlal Sharma. Later he fine tuned his talent under Ustad Jamal Khan of Sainia gharana for six years and gained knowledge in different singing styles.
His success rate is unmatchable with sold out concerts in almost every part of the world especially with his singing wife and partner Chitra. His career of more than 50 years included at least 80 albums and endless performances captivating his millions of admirers.
Despite the monopoly of established ghazal stars like Noor Jehan, Malika Pukhraj, Begum Akhtar, Talat Mahmood and Mehdi Hassan in the 70s Jagjit showed his class with his sensational singing. Hits like yeh zindagi kisi aur ki, mere naam ka koi aur hai, Patta-patta boota-boota haal hamaara jaane hai, Hontho se chhoo lo tum, Tum ko dekha, Hazaar baar ruke ham and hazaar baar chale were tailor made to suit Jagjit’s talent and take him zooming to the top of the charts. Among his most memorable numbers were Tum itna jo muskara rahe ho, Apni Marzi Se Kahan Apne Safar Ke Hum Hain and Pehle Har Cheez Thi Apni Magar Ab Lagta Hai Apne Hi Ghar Mein Kisi Doosre Ghar Ke Hum Hain. He was solely responsible to bring back the ghazal music when it looked like fading away with terrific soul searching numbers like Jhuki jhuki si nazar and Kaagaz ki kashti and created a new buzz in the bollywood music scene.
Famous writer and commentator Khushwant Singh said, “He sings better than Mehdi Hassan and looks better than Dilip Kumar."
Jagjit was married to yet another talented singer Chitra Datta from Calcutta in 1970 and both of them became an instant ghazal singing couple that was creating waves all over. As a singing pair they both were ‘unforgettable’. When the opportunities came, with films like Saath Saath and director Mahesh Bhatt's debut, Arth, they went into top flight. Next step was round the world musical tours which were a total sell out. And they climaxed with the teleseries made by Gulzar on Mirza Ghalib. Jagjit was supposed to join Gulzar after the success of Mirza Ghalib for another album based on the letters and poems of the poet.
There was a chorus of sadness coming from all walks of life with Jagjit Singh now gone. Described as someone who brought simplicity and a common man’s approach to ghazals, there were many like Usha Uthup, Javed Akhtar, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and the like expressing pain and anguish at such a great celebrity no more.
For all those ghazal lovers, there will not be any Jagjit Singh anymore to look forward to. The endearing golden voice which bordered on the meaning of life bringing such profound expressions to the listener is gone for ever. For his mass of followers Jagjit will always remain a ‘Jeet’ even when he looks upon them from the heaven above.
May his soul Rest in Peace.