The celebrated ghazal singer Jagjit Singh was born on February 8, 1941 and to celebrate this life and works, Mehfil@Prithvi this month was dedicated to this legend, who brought so many of us closer to the Urdu zabaan and the ghazal.
We were privileged and honored to have Chitra Singh ji, Jagjit Singh’s wife and a wonderful ghazal singer in his own right, who has sung many ghazals with him, join us for the mehfil. Also, bringing Jagjit Singh’s life and stories to us was ghazal singer Talat Aziz saab who had been encouraged and inspired by Jagjit Singh to become a ghazal singer. Talat Aziz even sang a few lines in his distinctive style.
The evening on Jagjit Singh’s life began with a more recent clip viewing of Jagjit Singh’s 70th birthday at a concert in Dubai, where he sang many of his favorite ghazals including the popular “Main nashe mein hoon’ (I am intoxicated), where he mischievously changed the words to ‘Main sattar ka hoon’ (I am 70), so it became ‘Thukrao ab ke pyaar karo, main sattar ka hoon’ (leave me now or love me, I am 70 years old).
Javed Siddiqui saab and Salim Arif saab enamoured the audience with several anecdotes of Jagjit Singh, from her personal repertoire of memories and experiences. Salim saab mentioned an article in Illustrated Weekly many decades ago, at the beginning of Jagjit Singh’s career, which quoted that his was a face more handsome than Dilip Kumar and a voice more wonderful than Mehdi Hassan.
Salim saab also recounted stories from the making of the TV serial Mirza Ghalib, where Jagjit Singh, Naseeruddin Shah and Gulzar saab became a formidable team, bringing Ghalib to life. Gulzar saab captured Jagjit Singh’s magnitude in is his very eloquent style when he said that Ghalib handed over the treasure of ghazals to Jagjit Singh for safekeeping and for carrying the baton forward, which he did so well, with the melody in his voice.
Javed saab pointed out that Jagjit Singh’s greatness lied in how he gave importance to the words being sung, not just with the melody but by bringing out the essence of the words. He said – sirf sur aur saaz nahi hote, alfaaz bhi hote hai (it isn’t only about melody and tone, there are words too) and lafzon ki badi ehmiyat hoti hai, koi achi tarah se ghazal ko nahi ga sakta jab tak woh ghazal ke lafzon ko samajh hi nahi mehsoon bhi kar sake (words are of great importance. No one can sing a ghazal well till he not only understands the words, but feels them too).
We played more ghazals sung by Jagjit Singh that included ‘Din Guzar Gaya’ (the day has passed..) and Alvida (goodbye) from the album Kahkashan. We played a documentary-in-making by Brahmanand, who was also present at the mehfil and showcased some insightful clips with bytes and interviews of several people associated with Jagjit Singh saab over the years. Some clips were showcased of Jagjit Singh speaking of Talat Aziz and a video of them in the recording studio during the recording of the ghazal ‘Apni marzi se kahan apne safar ke hum hain, rukh hawaon ka jahan hai, wahan ke hum hai’ (when has anyone had any say or control over their journey, wherever the wind blows, we are blown in that direction)
A couple of people in the audience also recounted the influence Jagjit Singh’s work had on their life and on the lives of regular listeners and fans, which brought to the fore, the greatness of the man in the limelight. The evening ended with the inimitable voice of the maestro playing in the background as everyone made their way out.
Links to the songs played:
Din Guzar Gaya – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlpZEAWj0z4
Alvida (Kahkashan) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xm3SCX7Co0
Apni marzi se kahan – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uR3gJnmWrQQ