I cannot indulge in any personal luxury: Chitra Singh

It had to be Jagjit Singh who would coax her out of her 22-year-long exile from the public eye. “He was my entire universe, my husband, friend, guide aur sabse badhkar, my guru,” she says, in an introduction to The Master And His Magic — an album featuring eight unreleased, original compositions of the legend who revolutionised ghazals forever.


The compilation album will be released on October 10, his first death anniversary. Despite being shaken by grave personal tragedies — her only son with Jagjit, Vivek, died in a car accident in 1990, her daughter Monica committed suicide in 2009 and last October, Jagjit passed away — Chitra has gathered herself bravely. Here, she talks to TOI.

You haven’t spoken to the press in 22 years. Why have you decided to talk now?
Considering all that happened and the life I have been leading, there was nothing to talk about. I’m talking now only because of Jagjitji’s new album.

Why is such a rare collection released only now?
For all these years, I didn’t have these songs. Our very good friend and a great fan from Ahmedabad, Sanjay Tayal, who had collected these live performances between the late ’80s and the late ’90s, called me one afternoon and asked if he could come over and make me listen to these gems. We picked the eight best, of which one was recorded in a concert abroad. They were wonderful but had to restored and re-mastered.

What are your earliest memories of Jagjitji’s music?
I must have been 22 when I first heard him sing and I didn’t like his voice (smiles). But like Jagjitji, I was a huge Talat Mahmood fan, and hence had a different taste. His singing didn’t register with me initially. But as I started listening, it grew on me, its finesse and its nuances. It mesmerised me.

Of all that he taught you about music, what are the three lessons or rules that you hold as most important?
It’s hard to pick three. He would always say riyaaz karo…always hit the note on its head. Bahut singers sur ke aaju baaju se gaate hain. That is something he couldn’t bear and he transferred that bug to me. The third thing he would repeat is — zyaada ustaadi nahi maarneka (smiles). Try out all your vocal fireworks at home. But when you sing, don’t oversing. Focus only on theexpression, passion and meaning of the lyrics. Gulzaar has often said that when Jagjit sings, he adds new meaning to the lyrics and enhances its depth. Most singers today overlook this.

How was the teacher-student equation between you two?
Jagjitji would sit in the hall with his harmonium and compose, while I would be inside cooking or giving my child a massage. What he would compose for me was vastly different from the songs he would compose for himself. That’s because he knew my voice and ability so well.

How do you look back at your musical journey with him?
Singing has been my life and I always loved singing. Jagjitji came into my life and took it to another level. My journey started with him, went along beautifully and stopped abruptly.

I am very spiritual. I believe everybody gets only as much as one is supposed to get. I won’t say as much as one deserves…but as much as one is meant to. If you seek anything beyond that, you don’t get it even if you break your head. What I was meant to get with Jagjitjee, I have had a full feel of it. I had a wonderful life and a superb musical career with him. I don’t know what would have happened to me musically. He made me whatever I am. Also with what Jagjitji and I have gone through personally, there have been a lot of emotional, spiritual changes that have reflected in his music, selection and treatment of songs.

From where did you draw strength to deal with the tragedies?
I don’t practice anymore but spiritual healing and counselling others helped me tremendously. It was very satisfying work. But life now has brought me to a stage where I cannot indulge in any personal luxury. I have to totally detach myself and concentrate on such things, which I can’t do any longer.

Spirituality is about cleansing your insides and your thoughts. My father instilled a lot of spirituality in me, which I realised only when I needed inner strength. Jagjitji was very spiritual too but without any fanfare. He was very perceptive and had terrific insight.

Now that you have broken your silence, when do you plan to take the mic?
Aisa bilkul koi plan nahi hai. I won’t sing. My fans will have to make peace listening to my records.

By: ANAND HOLLA, Mumbai Mirror


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