The King of Ghazal is no more but his legacy will live on. Jagjit Singh, 70, passed away on Monday morning at Mumbai’s Lilavati hospital. The singer was admitted there on September 23 following brain haemorrhage and was on life support since.
As the news became public, condolence messages began pouring in from fans and close friends in the industry. “Today, I feel that not only has the world of ghazal music lost its voice in India, we’ve lost a great friend. He was a great composer-singer. I’ve known him for over 31 years and we’ve been associated not just for songs but he was also an active campaigner in our fight for copyrights,” says lyricist Javed Akhtar, who composed two albums with Singh — Silsilay (1998) and Soz (2002). “Yeh ek bahut bada loss hua hai. Bahut afsos hua sun ke,” says Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali, who sang with Jagjit Singh in a concert organised by HT in Delhi on September 3.
Friends who met Singh just days before he was hospitalised say he was always a cheerful person. “He was a very lively person. He used to crack jokes, and talk cheerfully with everyone,” says Nalin Singh, co-producer of the 2011 film Gandhi To Hitler, for which Singh sang his last ghazal in a Bollywood film. “It is the end of a whole genre of music. When he celebrated his last birthday, he asked me to sing Munni Badnaam Hui and danced with me on stage,” recalls composer Lalit Pandit, who had composed Singh’s famous ghazal Hosh Waalon Ko (Sarfarosh, 1999). “My film, Arth, would not have touched the hearts of millions of people without the contribution of Jagjit Singh. Thank you friend. Thank you! ” tweeted filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt.
In 2011, Singh was to release four new albums and had a host of national and international performances planned. His most recent release, a Punjabi number called Leke Phulkari Soe Soe Rang Di was released on iTunes in June. Despite his legacy, Singh had recently told HT City that there were no Bollywood projects coming his way anymore.
Jagjit Singh (1941 - 2011)
Jagjit Singh was born in 1941, in Rajasthan to a government employee. In 1948, he began his musical training under Pandit Chhaganlal Sharma, and later, under Ustad Jamal Khan. In 1965, he reached Mumbai to start his musical career.
Singh first became famous in 1976, with his ghazal album The Unforgettables. He’s been part of some of the biggest Bollywood soundtracks since, including Arth (1982), Saath Saath (1982) and Sarfarosh (1999). His latest song was in the film Gandhi To Hitler.
Singh met Chitra in 1967, they married in 1969. In 1990, their only son Vivek, 21, passed away in a road accident and Chitra gave up singing. Her daughter from a previous marriage, Monica, committed suicide in 2009. Monica’s sons now live with Chitra.
Jagjit and Chitra were considered the first successful husband-wife duo of the Indian music industry. Their 1987 album, Beyond Time, is considered India’s first digitally recorded album. In 2003, Jagjit Singh was awarded the Padma Bhushan.
Memories of the master
Kehte hain ki Jagjit na raha. Ghazal ro rahi hai ki mera manmeet na raha: Manoj Kumar, actor
Kisi ki nazar lag gayi hai kala ki duniya ko... His contribution to ghazal in India is unparalleled: Shabana Azmi, actor
A heart that captured millions through poetry and song: Shekhar Kapur, filmmaker
In you I have lost a dear friend, your soulful songs will remain till eternity: Madhur Bhandarkar, filmmaker
I grew up listening to the brilliance of Jagjit Singh...my mother was a fan and made me one: Karan Johar, filmmaker