Around three weeks before he suffered a brain haemorrhage and was admitted to Lilavati Hospital on September 23, Jagjit Singh recorded his last song for Aditya Om’s film Bandook. Mrigtrishna Marusthal Ki, Chalti Ret Roop Dhaar Jal Ki… is written by Shivsagar and composed by Nikhil Kamath.
“Bandook’s about crime and politics in UP seen through the rise to power of an MP. While I was working on the background score, I came across a situation that I felt required a song, reflecting the mental trauma of the hero,” reminisces Nikhil.
When Mrigtrishna… was ready, he sang it on the phone to the ghazal singer who had earlier rendered Koi Fariyaad Tere Dil Mein… under his baton for Tum Bin and Aisi Ankhen Nahin Dekhi… for Aapko Pehle Bhi Kahin Dekha Hai. “Jagjitji loved the lyrics that were in chaste Hindi and immediately agreed to sing the song,” says Nikhil. When he was told that they wouldn’t be able to pay him his market price, Jagjit assured the young composer, who as a boy used to play cricket in his compound, that he could pay him whatever he wanted.
After a day’s rehearsal he turned up at Kailash Kher’s studio around 4 pm and after telling Nikhil to put the track on loop, sang non-stop for five hours. “When we wrapped up at 9 pm, Jagjitji had given me 20 different mukhdas,” says Nikhil, recalling the singer cracking jokes, and ordering dinner for everyone at the recording.
Later, after the orchestration, Nikhil played the final track to him on the phone. “Five days before he fell ill, Jagjitji called and when we informed him that we’d picturised the song, he had asked for it to be screened,” says Nikhil. “But before we could oblige, he left us.”