The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, December 15, 2002
Lead Article

In the spotlight
His music transcends time

Jagjit Singh at the book launch: A class apart
Jagjit Singh at the book launch: A class apart

Back in the eighties, Jagjit Singh broke the barriers of language to bring the magic of his ghazals to even those who didn’t understand the lyrics. Now a new coffee table book reveals that his appeal is as enduring as his music, writes Gyan Marwah.

BACK in the early seventies, he would trudge from one music company to another looking for that elusive break. But no one was willing to take the risk. Then, on a wild hunch, EMI extended an offer for an album. The result was The Unforgettables. And the rest as far as Jagjit Singh goes, is music history.

For almost three decades now, Jagjit Singh has had his innumerable fans riveted to his rich and resonant voice.’ Some unabashedly call him a musical genius. Others say he is a cultural trendsetter, though most are simply happy being mesmerised by his lilting music.

Jatjit Singh, however, has a very different opinion about himself. He calls himself a ‘man of God’ who lets the almighty guide his destiny. Modesty aside, Jagjit Singh is to ghazals what Mohammad Rafi was to film music. The man who made ghazals fashionable almost single-handedly.


Back in the eighties he broke the barriers of language to endear this poetic form to even those who cannot understand its lyrics but respond intuitively to the emotion of his singing. Not just the ghazal but Urdu poetry as a whole has received a shot in the arm, thanks to his popularity, which extends to millions of fans around the world.

The ghazal couple speaks

How did this happen? What has been the secret of Jagjit Singh’s amazing success. What are his future plans now that the ghazal is on the decline? Find out the answers to these and many more questions in the book Beyond Time: The ageless Music of Jagjit Singh.

This is more than just a biography. Based on close to 40 hours recorded interviews with Jagjit and his wife Chitra Singh, with members of their family, with friends, musicians, poets, film directors, colleagues, it is written with the warmth and intimacy of personal recollections.

The authenticity of the book comes from memories of an era gone by. The candid interviews evoke deeply-felt emotions of joy and sorrow. In this simple and direct approach Jagjit Singh speaks in his own voice about his life and his music, his modest beginnings and years of struggle, his ultimate success, his personal and musical partnership with his wife, Chitra and the terrible tragedy they suffered with the death of their son.

Rare anecdotes

The account is made richer by the participation of not only of his wife Chitra, but also those who know him intimately, people who recount rare anecdotes, observations that present both the public and private worlds of Jagjit Singh.

The book is structured in six chapters, with a foreword by Lata Mangeshkar. While the main text follows a chronological narrative, sub sections capture facets of the man and his music, ranging from his thoughts on the ghazal and composition to the active encouragement he gives young singers and his quiet dedication to charitable causes.

The book also highlights six of his albums, from the pathbreaking The Unforgettables of 1976 in Samvedha released in 2002 featuring the poetry of Atal Behari Vajpayee.

The text is complemented by photographs from Jagjit Singh’s own collection, family and studio sources, as well as some specially shot for the occasion; a variety of images that capture the many faces of the singer, from nostalgic sepia prints of the young eager student of music to mood shots of a mature artiste at the pinnacle of fame and career.

Pankaj Kodesia, the publisher of the book, said: "It is a ‘must read’ not only for millions of Jagjit Singh’s fans but all those who love music & musicians."

A collector’s item, the book’s limited edition carries an insert of a double CD album of Jagjit Singh’s greatest hits over the last 3 decades, ghazals and nazms that follow the musical journey described in the text.

— Newsmen Features