Jagjit Singh birthday special: How he helped Kumar Sanu get his break, and 4 lesser-known facts about the singer

From cheating in his college days to having offered Kumar Sanu his first break in films, lesser known facts about late ghazal singer Jagjit Singh on his birthday anniversary. Watch his live performances here.
(File) Jagjit Singh hailed from Sri Ganganagar district of Rajasthan.
(File) Jagjit Singh hailed from Sri Ganganagar district of Rajasthan.
Published on Feb 08, 2021 07:38 AM IST
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Monday marks 80th birth anniversary of ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh. The third one in his family of eleven siblings, Jagjit was born as Jagmohan Singh in Sriganganagar (Rajasthan) to a government employee. He first did a public performance when he was in standard nine, at a Kavi Sammelan. He chose a philosophical, melancholy and haunting poem for the occasion.

In his entire journey in showbiz, Jagjit has more than 40 private albums to his credit and has lent his voice for innumerable Bollywood films, impressing and enchanting an entire generation of music lovers. His songs like Hontho Se Chhoo Lo Tum, Tum Ko Dekha and Meri Zindagi Kisi Aur Ki Mere Naam Ka Koi Aur Hai, are evergreen favourites.

Speaking about his entry in Bombay (now Mumbai) and showbiz, Jagjit had said, “Om Prakash used to stay in Chembur and I contacted him there. He received me very warmly and introduced me to the famous music directors of the time, like Madan Mohan and Shankar-Jaikishen. I also met Jaidev and Manmohan Krishna, who ran a radio programme of ghazals. Jaikishen gave me a voice test at Famous Studio. He liked my voice but told me it would take time and that I would have to live in Bombay.”

Jagjit Singh and his wife Chitra Singh at the release function of the compilation of Gulzar’s Urdu poetry. (File Photo)
Jagjit Singh and his wife Chitra Singh at the release function of the compilation of Gulzar’s Urdu poetry. (File Photo)


Unfortunately, when he was at peak of his career, Jagjit faced the worst setback of his life. In 1990, he lost their only son Vivek, who was only 18-year-old in a car accident. His wife Chitra Singh quit professional singing after that and even Jagjit took several years before he could come back to his first love, music.

Contrary to the image of ghazals and ghazal-singers, Jagjit sang some Punjabi tappe (folk style from Punjab), pretty fast numbers and often joked in between his ghazals during his music concerts. On October 10, 2011, he died leaving thousands of fans grieving.

Here, we take a look at some little-known facts about the singer who is said to have brought ghazals to the drawing rooms of middle-class people, with his choice of words and lyrics.

Actually named Jagmohan at birth, Jagjit Singh's devout Sikh father rechristened him Jagjit on the advice of his Namdhari guru.
Actually named Jagmohan at birth, Jagjit Singh's devout Sikh father rechristened him Jagjit on the advice of his Namdhari guru.


1. During his college days, he was a brilliant hockey player and was part of his college team. However, he pulled out of the team when he realized that music was his real calling.

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2. Talking about their struggling days, filmmaker Subhash Ghai had said, "We came with different dreams. I hoped to be a hero, he wanted to sing playback in the movies. That was in the late 1960s. Mukesh, Rafi were all at the top, even Kishore Kumar who had been singing for years had yet to find himself on par with them. There was little room for a newcomer. I asked him, 'Why playback?' He retorted, 'Why hero!' I think we both laughed, though our hearts were heavy with no sight of a breakthrough." Journalist Sathya Saran quoted him in his book, Baat Niklegi Toh Phir The Life and Music of Jagjit Singh.

3. As per an Outlook report, Beyond Time was the first album which had an Indian musician recording a purely digital CD album in 1980.

4. The ghazal singer copied and cheated in his college exams. Jagjit has talked about it and revealed how even the invigilator helped him copy from notes during an examination for history paper.

5. He helped Kumar Sanu get his first break with Kalyanji Anandji. “While I was recording these Kishore Kumar songs, I came across Jagjitji. He would record his ghazals at the same studio. When he heard my songs, he was very impressed. Jagjitji insisted on meeting me there. I was totally unaware that he was in the studio. I was awe struck when I saw him. I touched his feet and he invited me home at 12pm the next day. I went there. On meeting Jagjitji, he asked me to sing a peppy Kishore Kumar number. I sang ‘Mere Saamnewali Khidki’. He gave me a pen and paper and asked me to learn a new song. I learnt the song in five minutes and he then drove me to Famous Studios in Tardeo. I sang the song in about 10-15 minutes and Jagjitji hugged me right after. He pulled out 1500 from his pocket and handed it to me. We took the song and then went to Peddar Road to meet Kalyanji-Anandji. The music directors heard my song and they loved it too. That’s how my career took off,” Kumar Sanu had said in a 2015 interview.

Jagjit Singh sang many ghazals and also had a vibrant, rich non-filmy discography to his credit. Listen to some of his best numbers:

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022