Jagjit Singh continues to live through his music. He introduced a generation to the genre of ghazals and walked into the hearts of the youth with his inimitable style. Mehdi Hassan and Ghulam Ali were household names and Jagjit was exceptional too. He had a following that went beyond the Indian audience.
For seasoned author Sathya Saran, whose biographies of Guru Dutt and S.D. Burman are still remembered, it was a subject close to heart. “Who is not a fan of Jagjit?” she asks, sharing her views on the tribute to Jagjit titled “Baat Niklegi Toh Phir.” “I was asked by HarperCollins if the subject interested me. I jumped at it. I have been a fan of Jagjit and Chitra since I first heard them,” the author is candid.
The well-researched book traces Jagjit’s journey through painstakingly gathered anecdotes and interviews. “Chitra was a huge source. Also Sanjeev Kohli (son of legendary composer Madan Mohan). Finding the others was a slow process but one link led to another. Also the book “Beyond Time” gave me valuable quotes by Kartar (Jagjit’s brother) about wonderful childhood stories.
On how much is Jagjit, or ghazal as a genre, relevant to this generation where music is more of cacophony than melody, Sathya observes, “The music and lyrics hold relevance today. He chose lyrics that are eternal and universal. “Har taraf har jagah beshumar aadmi”, or “Aaye hain samjhane log” are among the songs that still resonate with people today. The cacophony will give way to melody and Jagjit will find new fans in the coming generations too. All trends are cyclical.”
Sathya says the most difficult part was to get Chitra open up and realise she was sincere and not a sensation monger. “Also sifting the many insignificant anecdotes every alternate person wanted to share on Jagjit and keeping only the real ones. I know some good stories may have been left out but the book had a word limit and a narrative flow that could not be choked with too many anecdotes.”
The maestro comes across an emotional person dedicated to his vocation and one who valued friendship. Jasbir Singh, a friend of many years and owner of a restaurant, fondly shares his affection for Jagjit. The restaurant was not doing well but Jagjit ensured he would by performing live and getting a TV channel to beam the show. “I am here at Chenab, the food is good, it is cheap,” Jagjit announced during the show. “This is a gift,” he told Jasbir, who reveals the restaurant took off as a popular eating place. Their friendship led to a Gurbani album with 20 singers contributing. They sang 32 shabads as Jagjit worked for 18 months to create music to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Gurta Gaddi of Sri Guru Granth Sahib-ji.
Tales of his generosity, like helping a stranger monetarily to enable him organise his daughter’s wedding, are aplenty. Jagjit’s manager for over two decades, Kuldeep Desai, shares a moving anecdote. To help Sudarshan Fakir he credited the lyrics of an album “Hey Ram” to him despite having penned the songs. He also instructed HMV to pay the royalties of “Hey Ram” to Faakir, who needed money to build a house. On another occasion, we learnt how Jagjit offered his services for Saath Saath by paying the studio fees once the recordings were completed and at no point did he discuss his singing fee with the director and composer of the low-budget movie.
Sathya’s earlier tribute to S. D. Burman was acknowledged for its insight into the fascinating world of a master composure. How would she compare this with the book on S.D. Burman in terms of effort involved and sense of satisfaction at a job very well done?
“I sweated over the writing of SD as it was in a very new format. Keeping it fresh and real meant writing tiny bits at a time. I lived the book for nine months of writing it. The research for Jagjit was a lot of work. But being a straight narrative I wrote it in a month’s time. And I prefer readers to respond to both in terms of satisfaction rather than do so myself.”
Her appreciation of music is diverse, from Sachin da to the king of ghazal, both evergreen greats. Sathya throws light on her passion for music. “Ever since I remember I have sung songs from films. I hum all the time. I love old songs. Know most of them fully, tune, words and all. Ditto Jagjit’s songs. My mother is classically trained in violin. Music is something our family loves, though tastes are different. I am renewing learning classical music. Better late than never and I have the time now.”
On the play list
Jagjit Singh’s top non-film numbers:
“Baat Niklegi Toh Phir Door Talak Jayegi”
“Uske Dushman Hain Bahot”
“Sadma Toh Hai Mujhe Bhi”
“Dost Ban Ban Ke Mile Mujhko”
“Mujhko Yaqeen Hai Sach Kehti Thi”
Courtesy : Vijay Locapaly, The Hindu