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The singer is paying a tribute to his mentor at a concert on the 71st birth anniversary of the late ghazal singer.
The singer says: “I have shared a very strong bond with Jagjit Singh. Our connection went much beyond just being singers. It was my pleasure to know him as a person as well as a musician. I appreciated his choice of poetry — very soulful and serene. Though his choice of songs was melancholic, they had depth in them. He kept the poetry real and classy, no matter what. In fact, Jagjitji is partly responsible for my entry into Bollywood music.
“A Bandra boy, I grew up on English music. I was too young to understand the depth of poetry then, but his music from Arth (1982) just shook me. It was definitely one of the most life changing albums ever. I got hooked on to Hindi classical and semi-classical music. For me, the ultimate ghazal presenters are Jagjitji and Mehendi Hassanji. I love them both.” The singer further says the late singer was his guiding light.
“Apart from getting me to explore Hindi music, he also helped break a prominent myth. Like a lot of newcomers, even I thought that people are born with a certain kind of voice. I thought that voices like Jagjitji’s can only be God’s gift. When Jagjitji learnt about this, he said that it is not just God’s gift, but he had to make the effort to make that gift grow too. He revealed that the voice with which he sang ghazals wasn’t his original voice. He stressed on the fact that he created and cultivated that tone for himself. That got me thinking, and I tried doing the same with my voice. I was successful to some extent in changing the way my voice sounded. It was then that I actually started experimenting with my voice, pitch, and tone.”
“According to me, ghazals are a way of expressing poetry in a musical way. The genre has nothing to do with singing in a certain way. Each singer has his or her own style of expressing it. For instance, Gulam Ali’s voice is very different from that of Pankaj Udhas’, but both are popular ghazal singers. Similarly, with my caliber of understanding poetry, maybe some day even I will sing a ghazal! It’s in my blood. After all, my father Manas Mukherjee was a very good ghazal composer himself.
TRIBUTE TO JAGJIT SINGH [LONDON PRAYER November 2011]
Ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali talks about friend Jagjit Singh and his Bollywood debut
The year was 1976, when poetry played a significant role in our lives. “There was poetry, music and there was Jagjit Singh,” said ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali, as he got nostalgic while revisiting the memory of his friend in a press conference in the city. “Chitra, his wife, too was quite alive on the ghazal circuit, and we would indulge in endless musical interactions. But Jagjit was always number one, and no one can take his place,” added Ali, who performed at a concert held on Thursday at Tagore Theatre. It is a known fact that music, poetry and the soul stirring emotions of their craft, that brought the two together.
“That was the time of Nasir Qadri, Ghalib, Mir Hasan Mir and Mir Taqi Mir, where the word was all powerful and there was a way, a lehzaa, a tone and ring to everything that was sung. We couldn’t sing till we got the pronunciation right,” says Ali, who learnt the nuances of ghazal from Qadri, who then worked with Radio Pakistan and taught him Persian words, diction, andaaz, and how important it is to choose the right poetry to sing.
Singer Hariharan has an interesting titbit to relate about the late Jagjit Singh. “Once I was listening to a ghazal sung by him called Saamne Hai Jo Usse… He had sung it so well, that I called him in the middle of the song and said, ‘Kya gaaya hai aapne, bardaasht nahin ho raha hai’, and Jagjit replied, ‘Itna bura gaaya hai kya?’
He had a great sense of humour,” says the singer. Hariharan is all set to pay a musical tribute to the late ghazal maestro, who passed away a few weeks back. This Thursday, Nehru Centre at Worli will be witness to a grand musical evening ‘Immortal Jagjit’, where singers Jaswinder Singh and Hariharan will pay him a tribute. “I will be singing a couple of my ghazals, as well a few of my favourite ghazals of Jagjit’s including Sarki jaaye, Tum itna jo and Saamne jo hai…”
Hariharan has known Jagjit since the 80s and has also worked with him a couple of times. “Working with him was always a pleasure. I would be floored with his simple gestures of love. He was a musical person and his singing was really controlled. It’s really sad, the way he left us,” he says, adding, “The best tribute to a musician is through music, and that’s what we’re doing with this concert.”
… says Jassi about his last few meeting with Jagjit Singh
Jasbir Jassi made a mark in the 90’s which was the era of Punjabi pop music. He is one of the few singer who has still managed to survive in the race where the rest of his contemporaries have vanished in the dark. An amazing live performer, a great singer and a humble human being has still a lot to offer to the crowd when he walks on to the stage to perform.
And live performances still remain at the center of his preferences when it comes to music. And as he enters into the world of cinema with his first release, Khushiyaan, he shares the time he spent with the late gazal maestro Jagjit Singh during the shooting of the film which remains the last film for which Jagjit singh recorded.
“I spent some really great time with Jagjit Singhji who taught me some really good things. Those last days and meeting were very interesting and I will always remember them.”
Jassi feels that his movie career will enhance his skill as he will be able to reach to a much wider audience in Punjab and will give him a better hold on his audience. We wish him all the best.