Dead man singing

Humanity’s urge to prolong life can have unusual consequences.

By: Express News Service | Updated: March 19, 2016 12:20:07 am
Ghazal Singer Jagjit Singh with Nida Fazli. *** Local Caption *** Ghazal Singer Jagjit Singh with Nida Fazli. Express archive photo Ghazal Singer Jagjit Singh with Nida Fazli. *** Local Caption *** Ghazal Singer Jagjit Singh with Nida Fazli. Express archive photo

India wallows so luxuriously in history that the desire to bring it back to life is almost excusable. But when it amounts to raising the dead and organising entertainment events around them, it can get a bit eerie. Even so, the singer Chitra Singh has failed to get a stay on an event at Delhi’s Siri Fort Auditorium billed as “Jagjit Singh live in concert”. Which is clearly an illogical and untenable promise, since Singh departed the mortal plane in 2011.

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Apparently, the organisers have extracted the voice of the enormously popular ghazal singer from various live performances and backed it up with the band which used to play with him. But that band on stage was all that was alive about the performance. Admittedly, the organisers were on to a good thing. Nothing moves hearts and minds in India as forcefully as the idea of bringing the past back to life. This year, entire ministries in the Central government have been tirelessly pursuing this goal. But it’s not an exclusively Indian fantasy. Hollywood has been dying to bring lucrative dead actors back to life and starring in new movies.

Digital technologies has been used to complete films and shows whose actors died inconsiderately before shooting was completed. Gladiator and the second season of Dallas benefited from the prolongation of screen life. Coca-Cola advertising has featured James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and Louis Armstrong while a liquor ad was built around Bruce Lee. The prolongation of intellectual property and brands — which is what performers generate — is obviously an attractive goal to shoot for. To have a girl band singing for decades on end saves the trouble and expense of reinventing girl bands. But presenting a singer “live” when he’s not on stage may strike some fans as strangely creepy.

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