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Arth wouldn’t have been an enduring classic without this unusual man

Mr. Bhatt,Jagjit Singh is dead. Can we request you to give your reaction please?” As I hold the line,waiting to be connected to the studio anchor,a memory bubble bursts.

Written by Mahesh Bhatt | Mumbai |
October 11, 2011 1:22:48 am

Mr. Bhatt,Jagjit Singh is dead. Can we request you to give your reaction please?” As I hold the line,waiting to be connected to the studio anchor,a memory bubble bursts. I am in a dark auditorium. The house is full. It is 1983…and Jhuki jhuki si nazar,sung by Jagjit Singh in his inimitable voice,soaked with heartfelt emotion,is resonating in the hushed cinema hall.

On the screen,a giant image of Shabana (Azmi),her eyes brimming up with unshed tears,is responding to the words. Everything is still. And then,something unheard of happens. The minute the song gets over,the audience shouts “once more”,“encore”!!

Such was the magic of Jagjit Singh. He had the power of simplicity. He could move both the classes and the masses of India with his rich voice and his choice of tunes and lyrics. Arth wouldn’t have been an enduring classic without the contribution of this unusual man,who was truly an embodiment of the shared heritage of India.

In the 80s,when I conceived Arth,I realised that the only music director who could capture my emotional melody through his songs was Jagjit Singh. At that time,he had only one great song to his credit,Baat Niklegi to bohot door talak jayegi. Through the ghazal rendered with the accompaniment of the guitar,it was only Jagjit who could bring out the emotional subtext of my autobiographical film.

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I still remember that evening when I got back home I found him waiting for me in my compound. He had just seen the first rough cut of Arth. “What are you doing here?” I asked. Jagjit looked at me with great admiration and said,“I have seen the rough cut of Arth. I don’t think I have done justice to what you have created. My songs are not as good as the film is,” he said with heartbreaking honesty. That is the reason I call him a great artiste. A true artiste never feels that he has been able to bridge the gap between what he had in his heart and what he has actually managed to delivered.

“Urdu is the language of India,not just the language of a particular community or region,” I remember him telling me when I last met him in Hyderabad,just a year ago at a conference on Indo-Pak peace. That explains why perhaps,he got along so well with the great Kaifi Azmi.

In fact,my most prized memories are of these two giants,Kaifi Saab and Jagjit,creating the music of Arth. He was the embodiment of what Einstein said…Simplicity,simplicity,simplicity. Kaifi Saab would read out the lyrics and Jagjit would just inhale the fragrance of the words,and then out would pour the music,straight from his heart. No wonder then,that even in this MTV age where the generation next’s heart beats to a completely different drum,Jagjit still resonates in the heart of India and on its airwaves. A music baron told me that Jagjit is a name to reckon with not only because of the following he already has,but also because the younger generation is discovering him and it’s their support that keeps him alive on the shelf till date.

And to do this,Jagjit,like an evangelist consumed by passion,tirelessly travelled to every corner of the world,enchanting and mesmerising people with his music. Even the great Mehdi Hassan,who is a South Asian giant,said to me once: “Jagjit is like a flower that India should be proud of. I hope the generations to come will value him as much,if not more,as we do.”

Thank you Jagjit,for making my life so much more magical. I know for certain that your fragrance will endure long after you have gone,like the afterglow of the sun when it sets.

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