Chitra

Unforgettable Moments with Jagjit Singh

Anubha Sawhney, TNN | Nov 10, 2002, 08.33PM IST

He was a man of humble beginnings… I was the third among 11 children of my parents the late Amar Singh and Bachan Kaur. Back in 1941, the year I was born in Rajasthan, we lived in a small government quarter. There was no electricity and hardly any drinking water. He was as naughty as other kids… Once, I was so engrossed in following the path of my kite that I stepped on a dog, which bit me on my behind. I spent my time feeding cows and looking at girls.
His dad spotted the singer in him

Like my siblings, I also sang at home. My father spotted the talent and initiated me into music. Once my basic training was completed, Jamal Khan Sahab came to teach me at home. By then, I had begun to lead the prayer choir in school and also sang the National Anthem on January 26 and August 15. My singing made me an important student. If not a singer he would have been a… My father wanted me to become a bureaucrat. But I was interested in singing and looked up to Talat Mehmood, Lata Mangeshkar and Hemant Kumar.

Failure often precedes success I auditioned for All-India Radio (AIR) but flunked the test. While in college, I gave up learning music and concentrated on riyaaz. Finally, AIR took me on and, after I went on the air, I became a mini-celebrity in Jalandhar.
It was time now, to move to Mumbai
Struggle brought out the best in me. At the Sher-e-Punjab hostel, I paid Rs 30 a month for what was one corner of a room shared with three others. Yet, this was the best period of my life. I made friends, learnt gambling and sang at birthday parties, I was happy! Gradually, I sang at small ghazal concerts and became popular with music directors. But when it came to the movies, they had their favourites.

Ghazals spelt love for him and Chitra When I met Chitra, she was already into singing jingles. A Bengali, she was married to a man who owned a recording studio and had a daughter, Monica. When we sang duets, there was an interaction of emotions. Things were not working out between Chitra and her husband and they got divorced. We got married in December, 1969 and lived in a one-room apartment on Warden Road along with Monica. Chitra’s husband is still my friend and almost a father figure to both of us.

The future was Bright
In 1976, Chitra and I came out with our first LP, Unforgettables. It did great business and movie offers came my way. I did Avishkar, Arth, Prem Meet, Saath Saath.
With happiness, also came tragedy We were thrilled when Vivek (Baboo) was born to us on August, 20, 1971. One fateful day, Baboo, after returning from a party with friends, learnt that our neighbours had met with an accident. While driving to the accident spot on Marine Drive, he ran into a repair truck. Unaware of what had happened, I was composing the background music of a Punjabi film. When I reached home at 2 am, the house was empty. At 4 am, I got a call from JJ Hospital and rushed there. It was all over by then. Baboo was only 19.

The hurt was unbearable
Destiny stole our child from us. After Baboo’s death, Chitra gave up singing. She looked for Baboo in spirituality, I looked for him in my music.

Adulation embarrasses him I still can’t deal with the fan attention. I am flattered and honoured by the reaction to my music, but fame is short-lived.
He doesn’t hang onto his past Ghazals mean everything to me. Ghazals depict poetry, melody, emotions. For me, it is no longer a question of survival. Nor is it a question of money. I can survive on my past but I need to keep upgrading myself. I still have butterflies in my stomach before a new album or a live show.
Waiting for a happy ending I have told myself that I will retire at 65. I will gradually take it easy and be choosy about the concerts and shows I do. But there is so much more that I want to do. And I am still searching for that elusive something….

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