Jagjit Singh to me was synonymous with Ghazals. My brother was the one who introduced me to Jagjit Singh and it was easy to fall in love with his music. It became a passion to own his albums and each was appreciated. My interest in Ghazals triggered,I listened to other singers but none appealed to me as much as Jagjit Singh did. For me, Ghazals began and ended with his lilting voice. Recently I have grown to admire Ghulam Ali. But the distinctness of Jagjit Singh's compositions stand apart. He made Ghazals popular and introduced western musical instruments into the genre without taking away its essence, something which other contemporary singers could not manage as well. It is debatable whether he was a better singer or a better composer. His compositions were honest to the meaning and emotions of the lyrics and caprtured the mood of the song perfectly... whether it was the romantic, " sarkti jaaye rukh se naqaab" or the pensive , "shaam se aankh mein nami see hai", one of my personal favorites.
His live shows were extremely entertaining as is clear in the recordings. I nursed the desire to attend his live show but that desire has now died in my heart, unfulfilled and the sense of loss is crushing. When I was studying in Nagpur, he had performed live in the city but i didn't have the money then to buy tickets then. Few years later he was to perform in Bangalore while I lived there and I tried to get a ticket but I couldn't. I always hoped there will be a time when I will be able to do it. That day will never come. My cousin sister once called me and I could hear Jagjit Singh in the background. It wasn't a CD. She was attending a live show and thought of calling me, knowing how much I liked his music. That was as close I came to listening to him Live. Jagjit Singh also fueled my interest in Urdu poetry, Ghalib in particular. His music for the Televised Series on Ghalib by Gulzar is one of my favorite albums. I owned the album and gave it away to a friend who listened to my cassettes and loved the music. For a long time I was forlorn hunting for the album in music shops and finally bought the CDs. No Ghalib rendition enthralls me more than Jagjit Singh's.
Everyone must die. And most will be remembered by their loved ones. But some come along who will always be remembered in the annals of history for their contribution to mankind. Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, Steve Jobs... Jagjit Singh.
Photo: Jagjit Singh performing at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, 12 September ...