Saturday, January 23, 2016

Jagjit Singh: A Musical Inspiration

Jhuki Jhuki see nazar bekarar hai ke nahi,
Daba daba sa sahi dil mai pyaar hai ke nahi,

tu apne dil ki jawaan dhadkanon ko gin ke bataa
meri tarah teraa dil bekaraar hai ke naheen
dabaa dabaa saa sahee dil mein pyaar hai ke naheen
Jhuki Jhuki see nazar...

It is verses like this that made music by Jagjit Singh immortal. Simple language yet immense depth was his style. 

Jagjit Singh, born in Rajasthan as Jagmohan Singh, one name everyone associates with Ghazals in India. Coming from humble roots, he became the Ghazal King of India. He brought the dying art of Ghazals in India, back into the limelight and the popularity of Ghazals soared in his time. He consciously chose poetry that was relevant to the masses, instead of being elitist or prosaic. He chose music such that it highlighted the meaning of the words and key phases in the Ghazal. In the context of Indian Classical music, his style of composing and Gayaki (singing) is considered as Bol-pradhan, one that lays emphasis on words.

Jagjit Singh is considered to be the most successful ghazal singer and composer of all time in terms of critical acclaim and commercial success. With a career spanning five decades and a repertoire comprising over 80 albums, the range and breadth of his work has been regarded as genre-defining. He is the only composer and singer to have composed and recorded songs written by former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee – also a poet – in two albums, Nayi Disha (1999) and Samvedna (2002).

The fact that I like most about his ghazals is that they are timeless. They were relevant ten years back, they are relevant today and will be relevant maybe hundred years from now. Unlike contemporary composers today, he never used complex, never heard of before words in his poetry. His words were simple yet powerful. They reach the depth of one’s heart and evoke some deep emotions. Composers today use difficult words but their poetry lacks depth. It is shallow and comes with an expiry date. I doubt even two generation from now, if anybody will be singing their songs.

Jagjit Singh’s voice was his most invaluable possession. It was deep, with a slight husk, yet so melodious. His voice complemented anything he sang. It provided the words a whole new dimension. His voice in songs like “Who kagaz ki kashti” and “Mere Dukh ki Koi Dawaa na Akro” brought tears in eyes of even the most emotionally reserved people.

Jagjit Singh worked with many top artists of his time including Lata Mangeshkar, Ravi Shankar etc. Mirza Ghalib was the main influence in his life and he even composed a TV serial of the same name. Most of his poetry was inspired by the works of Mirza Ghalib.

I wish we had more artists like Jagjit Singh today. Real music has taken a back seat these days and only mindless cacophonies are making the big bucks.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

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