“Jagjitji was my entire universe … my Guru” Chitra Singh
Over the past week, social media channels have been bristling and buzzing with audio and video posts by a multitude of Jagjit Singh fans. If he were alive, India’s greatest ghazal singer would have turned 72 last Friday, February 8, 2013.
Not very long ago, nine unreleased recordings – rare classics from a span of over two decades – were exhumed from his personal archives and packed into a collector’s edition album – “Jagjit Singh: The Master & His Music,” the only official tribute to the legend. This compilation of the ghazal maestro’s unpublished songs is a personal commemoration by his wife, the sweet voiced Ghazal singer Chitra Singh, who personally selected the songs and took the effort to digitally re-master and restore them.
“Someone somewhere is always listening to the unforgettable, inimitable Jagjit Singh! My job is to ensure that the legend lives on,” writes Chita Singh. What makes this album unique is that the songs here are accompanied by the nostalgic remembrances of Chitraji who reminisces, “My true life began the day I met Jagjitji… he was my entire universe … he was my husband, friend, guide and above all, my Guru… The world learned from him how to compose poetry into melody and how to express it with utter simplicity… More than being a great artiste, he was a great human being. Hailing from a very humble background, Jagjitji never had a discriminative view of people, and never forgot his roots. He had a big heart and was fond of giving. He often said, what’s the loss in giving away things that are not at all mine?”
This compilation has some outstanding ghazals written by the best in the business – from Mirza Ghalib to Bashir Badr – beautifully wrapped in that deep, soft and mellow voice of the master. Jagjit Singh fans would treasure the book that comes with the CD, and captures his life and times – full of rare photographs letting you have a glimpse into the musician’s world. The book is written Sanjeev Kohli, son of the great Madan Mohan; Sanjay Tayal collected the unreleased songs and Amey Londhe digitally re-mastered the album. This is definitely a collector’s item!
Tu Ambar Ki Aankh Ka Tara
The CD begins with the master’s voice: “This year, I’m celebrating my 70th Birthday, the whole year is going to be celebrated as my birthday … and I have committed 70 concerts in one year…” Little did we know that it would his last year and this last wish would remain unfulfilled. The opening track is a nice ghazal sung in a style that is distinctly his own – something which he created and made famous. You would love Wasim Bareilvi’s sweet lyrics: “Tu ambar ki aankh ka tara, mere chhotey haath / Sajan, main bhul gayi yeh baat…”
Dekha Jo Aaeena
This is a splendid song written by Farag Roohvi – in the lines of his live renditions made immortal in the tracks of Encore. The album booklet has the lyrics of this ghazal written in the master’s own handwriting in Hindi. The address scribbled at the bottom of the lyrics indicated that Jagjitji wrote this on his song book sitting somewhere at 48 Maulana Shaukat Ali Street, Calcutta 83. My favorite lines are: “Dekha jo aayeena, toh mujhe sochna pada; Khud se na mil saka to mujhe sochna pada.” This ghazal is one of the best in the album!
Jao Ab Subha Hone Wali Hai
Quite a haunting song, this ghazal begins with the sher, “Bhool jao tamam baton ko… ponch lo ashk apne daman se, uljhe uljhe se baal suljhalo.” The poetry poignantly tells the story of the lover’s pain in tearfully bidding farewell to his lady love at daybreak. It’s a plaintive pleading to forget the matters of the night, and let go… ‘Ab na aasoon bahao, jaane do.’ The CD does not mention the lyricist, but the first line is reminiscent of Noor Jehan’s song with the same opening line in Deedar (1951) composed by Naushad. Jagjitji’s composition is evidently based on a morning raga, and is as fresh as the dew of dawn.
Ro Lete Toh Achha Hota
Another sad song about crying and relieving heartaches – this time the pain of aspiring for the moon and stars without giving a thought: “Ro lete toh achha hota, bare gham kuchh halka hota / Chand sitarey maange humney, kuchh to akhir socha hota… I am not sure who wrote the lyrics as there is no mention of the author of this ghazal in the album; it gives credit to Raja Sehgal for recording the live rendition of the song. The limpid flow of the song is sure to move you and serve as an anodyne for rueful memories.
Aahon Mein Hai Asar Magar
One of the highpoints of this album is this beautiful song – “Aahon mein hai asar magar, farq asar asar mein hai / Chayan se so rahen hain woh, dard yahan jigar mein hai.” There is no mention of the lyricist but this magnificent poem is nothing short of the stature of the great Ghalib and is bound to remind you of his masterpiece “Aah ko chaahiye ik umr asar hone tak.” Another memorable sher from this song is “Dilko jo mere le gaya, uski talash kya karoon / Jisne churaya dil mera, woh to meri nazar mein hai.” This one is my favorite!
Rone Se Aur Ishq
Here comes Mirza Ghalib – finally! Jagjit was hugely responsible in introducing Ghalib to this generation through his ghazals. Lata Mangeshkar fans may have heard this great ghazal in her golden voice sung many year ago. Jagjitji’s version is obviously different and you’ll love this mellifluous rendition. “Rone se aur ishq mein, be baak ho gaye / Dhoye gaye ham aise ki, bas paak ho gaye / Karne gaye the unse taghaaful ka ham gila / Kee ek hee nigaah ke bas khaak ho gaye…” will ring in your ears for years!
Tu Jo Aa Jaye
Written by Bashir Badr, one of the greatest living Urdu poets of India, and composed in the beautiful late-night Raga Durga, ‘Tu Jo Aa Jaye’ seems to be the fruit of Jagjitji’s peak as a singer and composer of ghazals. And when you have such words as these the song sets in your heart and stays on your lips: “Khwab bankar tu barasta rahe shabnam shabnam / Aur bas main is mausam ko nikharta dekhoon.” “Jisse milna hi nahi, usse mohabbat kaysi / sochta jaaon, magar dil mein utar ta dekhoon.” Those who like his mehfil-style classical renditions will surely treasure this brilliant ghazal.
Dil Mein Ab Dard-e-Mohobbat
This is another sad song sung in a style that brings out the pain of the lover in a manner only Jagjitji can. He was a master of this style soulful renditions, and this is explained by Chitraji at the start of the song: “He was jolly good fellow and a master of hiding his sorrows behind his smiles. Perhaps this is why his music is so very soulful.” In the accompanying book, you will find the lyrics of Sahir Bhopali’s ghazal inscribed in the singer’s own handwriting. “Dil mein ab dard-e-mohobbat ke siva kuchh bhi nahi / Zindegi ab teri ibadat ke siva kuchh bhi nahi…”
A fitting finale to this tribute album is Ghalib’s “Woh firaaq aur woh visal kahan? / Woh shab-o-roz-o-maah-o-saal kahaan?”. This one is a classic and true lovers of ghazals in its purest form will cherish this gem. The CD ends in these words by Chitra Singh, “The mesmerizing quality of both his music and his personality brought the entire world at his feet. Jagjitji’s voice was true yesterday, is true today, and will remain true even tomorrow…” Indeed, Jagjit Singh will live in our hearts forever.