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Jagjit Singh: End of an era of Ghazal singing in India

October 10, 2011 04:53:55 PM IST
Enkayaar, Glamsham Editorial
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With the passing away of Jagjit Singh, the Ghazal maestro today in the morning, Indian music, in particular Ghazals have been orphaned. The singular contribution of Jagjit Singh was to democratize Ghazals, and make it acceptable to the general public. He was the first Ghazal singer who moved the rendition of Ghazals away from its reliance on classical instruments, to be arranged henceforth with a mixture of English instruments like a guitar, a violin, a bongo, and by infusing such instruments he made its acceptability far and wide. By his choice of instruments and his choice of lyrics he moved Ghazals away from the connoisseurs to the common man. The common man started enjoying the romance of Indian lyrics, tempered with the sensibilities of contemporary musical nodes.

Right from the time that Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh made their debut, and till the time they were trying to emulate Mehendi Hassan style of rendition they were not able to make their mark. It was there South Africa tour that facilitated in carving a niche for themselves. Sadly enough, as during those times, as India was not having diplomatic relations with South Africa, the duo was banned. Once the ban was lifted the duo never looked back.

view JAGJIT SINGH videos
view JAGJIT SINGH videos

Growth was when Jagjit Singh was facilitated to a great extent by his association with the world of cinema and also television eventually. His sellout album from ARTH and later on PREMGEET made him a heart throb of nation. It was now his songs that were used as a stepping stone for romance either to express it by the song of PREM GEET, or the solace of rejection finding voice in the songs of ARTH. In the meanwhile Jagjit Singh evolved himself and started singing solo as Chitra Singh had stopped singing after death of her son Vivek. Massive popularity that Jagjit Singh enjoyed was also owing to his frequent concert performances around the globe, in particular where Punjabi Diaspora was settled. It was either through design or fortuitously that he chose the folk Punjabi songs to regale the audience in his concerts outside India and this catapulted him into the hearts of the Indians all across the globe. Be it 'Kothe pe aa mahiya, ya dhai din ni Jawani naal chaldi kurti mal mal di', it just brought the house down wherever the duo sang these tappas. Scores of other singers tried to emulate it, but could not attain the same success, possibly owing to the fact that Jagjit Singh himself was from Punjab, so he could sing the tappas with passion which no other person could.

Jagjit Singh, once he became associated with television first with 'Kehkashan' and subsequently with Mirza Ghalib, brought into limelight the contribution of great maestros of Mughal era. The manner in which he set music to the nazms written by the maestros, be it 'Josh Malihabadi' or 'Firaq', it was his music and his rendition of their nazms which infused reality into those characters. Mirza Ghalib was a monumental landmark in his career, as it was for Gulzar and Naseeruddin Shah. Through his renditions, obviously with much needed support from Gulzar behind the screen, and by acting of Naseeruddin Shah on the screen, he demystified Ghalib, and triggered a wave for further study of Ghalib as a phenomenon.

CHECK OUT: Ghazal legend Jagjit Singh passes away

During the later part of his career, he was slightly anguished about the fact that Ghazals were not getting there due place among the younger generation. It was primarily owing to the change in the taste of times, where a new generation loved to imbibe a remix more than a rendition based on classical sounds. Was it owing to this reason that he also appeared in a commercial selling a medicine, one does not know, but Jagjit Singh as a singer and as a composer indeed hand held the Ghazals in the process of their graduation from kothas and baithaks, to the common man with great finesse? With each of his compositions, the intoxicating fervor and reach of Ghazals as a tool of mesmerization continued and continues to intoxicate.

May the voice continue to fill the melancholy of broken hearts, and those at the cusp of romance continue to be guided by his voice and by his renditions to express the longings of the heart, the pains of separation, the anticipations of a meeting in the near or a distant future, and the hope of crossing the paths once again after years of separation continue to kindle in their hearts the anticipation of the same, by filling the void through the voice of the maestro Jagjit Singh. His loss would be difficult to fill, but his fans would ensure that he continues to be in the memory for all times to come.

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