A legend by the name of Jagjit Singh passed away in October last year. The entire nation was shaken by this irrevocable loss. No longer would that intoxicating baritone serenade scores of people with the choicest of poetic ghazals – and that’s truly unimaginable. Known as one of the greatest voices of the 20th century, he gave the world nearly 46 years of musical performances. Aside from being a singer and musician, he was a closet philanthropist. He never publicized his charitable contributions – be it monetary or aural – and his love for humankind is well-known amongst his family, friends and fans.
Recently, on his 71st birth anniversary, the who’s who of the Indian music industry congregated to pay homage to this stalwart. Held at the hotel Intercontinental – The Lalit in suburban Mumbai, Dia Mirza was the host for the evening. A great line up of performances included 17 singers who took the stage to sing Jagjit-ji’s most memorable and notable ghazals & bhajans. Let’s take an individual look at the songs performed by each singer.
Against the backdrop of Jagjit ji’s life-sized photo, Shaan kicked off the musical performances with a very soothing rendition of Koi Yeh Kaise Bataye, followed by a very mellow version of Jhuki Jhuki Si Nazar – both from the movie Arth.
BHUPINDER & MITALI SINGH
Together, Bhupinder and Mitali sang their famous ghazal ‘Raahon Pe Nazar Rakhna’ in remembrance of Jagjit Singh. Watching them perform live was a visual and aural treat – especially when Mitali’s voice reverberated powerfully throughout the hall.
Bhupinder – “I knew him since the day he arrived in Mumbai. We used to hang out in Churchgate and catch the last train back home. With time, we got very busy with our respective career. I would love to share a lot of anecdotes but there’s not enough time. Tonight, we want to celebrate him and his music – not mourn. I’m sure he’s nearby listening to me now.”
Mitali – “Jagjit started the ‘ghazalon ka festival’ and gave us a lot of opportunities to grow as singers. He was extremely jovial and always advised me to sing serious as well as light-hearted ghazals on stage. That way I would cater to every kind of audience.”
“Tum ko dekha toh yeh khayal aaya,
Zindagi dhoop, tum ghana saaya”
Singer Ghanshyam Vaswani metaphorically brought back Jagjit Singh to life with his beautiful rendition of one of Jagjit-ji’s all time famous ghazals – Tum Ko Dekha Toh Yeh Khayal. His style of singing and his mastery tof he nuances were shockingly similar to that of Jagjit Singh.
“If I’m in music today, it’s because of Jagjit ji. I met him way back in 1979 and I don’t know how to thank him for all the love and time he dedicated to me.”
L. SUBRAMANIAM & KAVITA K.
In 2003, two legends, Jagjit Singh & Lata Mangeshkar collaborated for the first time on an album ‘Sajda’ and gave us the stunning track ‘Meri Tasveer Mein Rang’. Now in 2012, the musical couple Kavita Krishnamurthy and L. Subramaniam decided to pay homage to Jagjit Singh by singing the same track. And wow! Kavita-ji is always a treat to listen to and watching her perform this track along with L. Subramaniam on the violin, was an added bonus.
“I’m honoured to perform here tonight as well as having gotten a chance in my lifetime to work with Jagjit Singh. I’m blessed to know him and one of the greatest, irreplaceable voices have been lost.”
HANS RAJ HANS
Hans Raj Hans, fresh from the ‘Punjab ki mitti’, sang ‘Garaj Baras Pyaase Dhartee’ from Jagjit Singh’s album Insight. Now, don’t get me wrong when I say this – Hans Raj’s rustic baritone is a pleasure to hear normally, but not in a ghazal setting. The softness and tenderness of Jagjit Singh’s emotional voice in the original version was lost on Hans Raj Hans.
When one ghazal maestro pays a tribute to another, one should expect nothing short of magic. Renowned veteran ghazal singer Talat Aziz sang his own composition ‘Apni Marzi Se Kahaan Aapne’ which was originally rendered superbly by Jagjit Singh. Believe me when I say this, Talat Aziz’s voice is highly intoxicating – you never realize when it unleashes its grasp on you and transports you to a music-dominated alternate universe. Well, that’s what happened to me . He also performed a song ‘Kaise Sukoon Pau Tujhe Dekhne Ke Baad’ from his first album ‘Jagjit Singh presents Talat Aziz’.
Versatile singer Richa Sharma presented her ‘Pehle pyaar ka khat’ (first love letter) to Jagjit Singh. Appropriately enough, she sang the ghazal pop song ‘Pyar Ka Pehla Khat Likhne Mein’ from Jagjit-ji’s album Face to Face. Richa’s uncanny ability to always deliver a delicate yet fantastically passionate performance is note-worthy.
“My association with Jagjit ji began 6-7 years ago in the studio while recording for his album under his direction. I’m here to sing for his shraddhanjali. May God bless his soul.”
Although I love Kunal Ganjawala’s voice (I really do), his performance of one of Jagjit Singh’s most famous ghazals ‘Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho’ was utterly incomparable to that of the stalwart’s soft melodious voice.
“I remember once meeting Jagjit-ji prior to a recording session. He offered a drink to me, but I refused since I don’t drink. His immediate response was, “For that reason, now you have to drink even more”. He was an extremely fun-loving jovial person whom I sincerely miss working with.”
In my opinion, Anup Jalota delivered one of the best performances of the concert. He sung a Nida Fazli’s nazm ‘Yeh Daulat Bhi Le Lo’. The pathos in his voice was startling and his singing was absolutely awe-inspiring. The audience melted with their ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ and eventually joined Anup Jalota in the singing. He paid a very befitting tribute by ending the song with :
‘Ye Daulat Bhi Le Lo, Ye Shoharat Bhi Le Lo,
Bhale Chheen Lo Mujhse Meri Javaani,
Magar Mujh Ko Lauta Do Jagjit Wapas,
Woh Ghazalon Ki Shaame, Woh Mehfil Ruhaani’
USTAD RASHID KHAN
Ustad Rashid Khan was lost in the memories of his friend Jagjit Singh with Ustad Ghulam Ali Khan’s Yaad Piya Ki Aaye. The dynamic range of his voice, along with beautiful music arrangements by tabla player Jeetu Shanker-ji, resulted in a standing ovation with a thundering round of applause.
“I got a chance to do a jugalbandi with Jagjit Singh in Calcutta first and then in Bombay. I’m missing him a lot tonight and I hope we can remember him through his music.”
“I am amongst the youngest musicians here tonight and I’m very, very nervous. Unfortunately, I did not have the good luck of meeting Jagjit Singh in my lifetime. But he had an intoxicating, mesmerizing voice which is irreplaceable.”
SHABANA AZMI & JAVED AKHTAR
Social Activist and Padma Bushan awardee, Shabana Azmi, in a very soulful and sombre mood, said “It’s very strange the way in which Jagjit Singh left us. Three days before he was hospitalized, he was having a long chat with Javedji and they were planning a world tour together. And here we are today.” She added, “I’m very fortunate that three of his most famous and popular songs were picturized on me in Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth. The manner in which he so beautifully strung the lyrics with the pain that he was trying to convey left me with very little to do.”
Javed Akhtar also shared heartfelt and fond memories of the ‘Ghazal King’.
Suresh Wadkar’s performance was hands-down the best of the night. He started off with Yeh Aarzoo Thi Unki before proceeding to the beautiful ‘Chitthi Na Koi Sandes’. I was floored by the sensitivity with which he sang the latter. During this performance, I had an epiphany wherein I finally realized that Jagjit Singh is no longer amongst us. And believe me, it hurt to the point of tears. I looked around and realized I wasn’t the only one with overflowing eyes.
SHAFQAT AMANAT ALI
My eyes lit up at the announcement of his name. Hariharan is personally my favorite male playback singer. And he lived upto my expectations with his rendition of ‘Sarakti Jaye Rukh Se Naqab’. Every line poured out of his mouth like liquid passion, and he mesmerized the audience into pin-drop silence. Way to go, Hariharan-ji.
“I just want to wish Jagjit Singh a very happy birthday wherever he is.”
Completely surprising the audience, Jagjit Singh’s wife Chitra Singh, who attended the tribute concert along with her family, launched an album of a collection of 12 unreleased songs titled “Jagjit Singh – The Master and His Magic”. His grandson, Armaan, spoke about Jagjit Singh,”I miss my grandfather a lot. To the world, he is the musician Jagjit Singh, but to me, he is my loving grandfather. He loved whole heartily and forgave easily. I will be thankful if I grow up to be half the man he was.” And with that, the entire family unveiled the new album.
This evening had a lot of surprises in store, including Sonu Nigam’s performance considering his name wasn’t present in the expected line-up on the invites. Along with Suresh Wadkar and Anup Jalota, his performance was amongst the best. Three of Jagjit Singh’s evergreen tracks – ‘Hey Ram, Hey Ram’, ’Honthon Se Choo Lo Tum’ & ‘Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya’ were performed beautifully by him. With his tributes thus sung, Sonu Nigam paved way to the finale.
After a magical line-up of performances, the evening culminated in a stunning crescendo with all the musicians present at the venue descending on the stage and singing the above-mentioned ‘Hey Ram’ & ‘Honthon Se Choo Lo Tum’ together. From Ila Arun, Shweta Pandit, Udit Narayanan, Sonu Nigam, Anup Jalota, Suresh Wadkar to Talat Aziz, Shantanu Moitra, Sowmya Raoh, Shilpa Rao, Papon, Ustad Rashid Ali & Kunal Ganjawala, everyone sang as one entity in remembrance of the iconic Jagjit Singh and ended the night with the echoing chorus of musicians and audience to
“… Sangeet Amar Kar Do,
Jagjit Amar Kar Do…”
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