Planet Bollywood
End of an era...the passing of Ghazal legend Jagjit Singh
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"Chitthi na koi sandes - jaane woh kaun sa Des jahan tum chale gaye!
Is dil pe laga kar thes - jaane woh kaun sa Des jahan tum chale gaye!"

Jagjit Singh, true to his name "conquered the world" with his gentle, soothing voice. He was a legend, a movement that revolutionized the art of ghazal singing in the 70s - at a time when it was fast diminishing in India, and was championed by just a handful of old-school singers such as Talat Mehmood, Begum Akhtar and the likes.

Those were the early days when the melodious 60s era was getting over, and the western pop culture started dominating the Hindi film music. But this handsome young man, with a soft yet baritone voice, held his own against the popular Indian cinema and its music.

Born on February 8, 1941 in Rajasthan’s Sri Ganganagar, Jagjit Singh’s early training was under Pandit Chhaganlal Sharma and his skills were honed under Ustad Jamal Khan. With a punishing regimen Jagjit acquired skills in Khayal, Thumri and Dhrupad forms of classical music.

Along with his wife Chitra (who he married in 1969), Jagjit simplified the complex art of Ghazal singing, thus taking something which was previously reserved for the classes - to the masses of India and beyond. The husband-wife duo made sure that the ghazals they chose had simple yet meaningful and identifiable lyrics, and the rendering not too classic. Another striking feature was that most of their albums had English titles such as ‘The Unforgetteble’, ‘A Milestone’, ‘Ecstasies’, ‘A Sound Affair’, ‘Echoes’ and ‘Beyond Time’.

The crowning glory for the Jagjit-Chitra was obviously the album of Mirza Ghalib, for the 1988 television serial directed by Gulzar.

Unfortunately their only son, 21 year old Vivek, died in a road accident on 28th July 1990. Chitra went in to mourning and lost her voice, never to sing again. Their subsequent album 'Someone Somewhere' was the last album sung by both.

It was just not non-filmy ghazals that Jagjit Singh excelled in. His selective foray in to films was also highly successful- ‘Prem Geet’(“Hothon Ko Choo Lo Tum”, ‘Saath Saath’ (“Tum Ko Dekha To Yeh Khayal Aaya”), ‘Arth’ (“Tum Itna Kyon Muskura Rahe Ho”), “Dushman’ (“Chitti Na Koi Sandesh”), ‘Sarfarosh’ (“Hosh Waalon Ko”) and ‘Tum Bin’ (“Koi Faryaad”) are just a few examples.

It is the end of an era, as many generations of fans across the world mourn his demise and celebrate his unforgettable music.


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