Not everyone listens to Jagjit Singh these days. Not everyone knows Jagjit Singh. For the those of us who have grown up with his ghazals, it is an impossible task to pick up the ‘favorite’ or ‘top 10 ghazals’ from the vast treasure-trove he left behind for us. On his 3rd death anniversary, this post is not an attempt to pick his ‘top’ ghazals.
Yours truly is known to gate-crash any music discussion about Jagjit Singh that takes place on social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. This post is a result of my secret excursions to various discussions about Jagjit Singh and how those discussions are almost always hijacked by somewhat ‘popular’ ghazals from the man. I am enlisting few ghazals which I haven’t seen being discussed much. I have deliberately chosen albums from the later part of his life because the ‘sound’ agrees more to a first time/new listener.
1. Aaj fir unka saamna hoga – This was first featured in the album Love is blind. By the time of its release, the ‘jagjit singh album release event’ was anticipated eagerly by ghazal lovers. The mood, the anticipation all pitch perfect here, I particularly love the first antara that goes
आसमान रो रहा है दो दिन से,
आपने कुछ कहा सुना होगा..
2. Aap se gila aapki kasam – This was featured in the album ‘Unique’. Hear the helplessness in Jagjit singh’s voice when, in the first antara the part comes that goes ‘उसकी क्या खता, ला-दावा है ग़म’ and you will know what I mean. Jagjit Singh is to be credited with bringing a better ‘sound’ (thanks to his earlier days collaborator, Mr. Daman Sood, the magician sound engineer), to Indian ghazals. Hear how the violin takes you to your loved ones, everytime it appears in the ghazal. That said, my favorite part in the ghazal remains
खीचते रहे, उम्र भर मुझे
एक तरफ खुदा, एक तरफ सनम.
3. Main Rahe Meena rahe – This was featured in Mirage for the first time and was an HMV release. I remember buttering my parents properly to pick up the ‘sheer magic’ version of this cassette. Sheer magic used to be a ‘better’ quality cassette by HMV. Side A, last ghazal it used to be. Just hear the rich use of rubaab in the ghazal along with the melancholic yet flirty flute to get lost in the magic of this beautiful ghazal. My favorite part remains
हश्र भी तो हो चुका, रुख से नहीं हटती नकाब
हद भी आखिर कुछ है कब तक कोई दीवाना रहे
4. Mausam ko isharon se bula kyu nahi lete – This was featured in the album titled Sajda. The pace is delicate, the words are probing and Jagjit Singh captures the tone of a lover in a charming way which we haven’t come across since he has left us. My favorite part remains
तुम जाग रहे हो, मुझे अच्छा नहीं लगता
चुपके से मेरी नींद उड़ा क्यों नहीं देते?
5. Dushman ko bhi seene se lagana nahi bhooley – Yet another ghazal from the album Mirage. I rarely see this ghazal being discussed. Apart from the wonderful rubaab that starts the ghazal, hear the veiled anger of Jagjit singh in the antara that goes ‘कुछ लोग अभी आग लगाना नहीं भूले’. My favorite part remains
ये बात अलग, हाथ कलम हो गए अपने
हम आप की तस्वीर बनाना नहीं भूले
6. Dairo haram mein – This one comes from the magnificent album titled ‘face to face’. I haven’t come across many ghazals of Jagjit Singh which are composed in this tempo and sung with such attitude! Just hear Jagjit singh (ably supported by the wonderful backup vocalists) goes
तूफ़ान से हम टकरायेंगे
तुम अपनी कश्ती को संभालो
7. Ye kaisi Mohabbat – Featured in the album ‘Desires’, was released by Weston if I remember right. Penned by ‘Gumnaam’ (Surinder malik), it pretty much would be one of the best pieces of poetry that you will come across all ghazals from the maestro. My favorite part still remains
वो दामन हो उनका, के सुनसान सेहरा
बस हमको तो आखिर हैं, आंसू बहाने
8. Ishq ki daastaan hai pyaare – This was sung by Jagjit singh in Shimla concert If I remember right. It was then released by HMV in an album titled – Live with jagjit singh. I cannot remember any other ghazal that used a seemingly ‘ghazal inappropriate’ word like ‘pyarey’ so well. My favorite part remains
हम ज़माने से इन्तेकाम तो लें
एक हसीन दरमियान है प्यारे
9. Din guzar gaya – The ghazal that Jagjit Singh sung along with Chitra Singh. It was featured in the album ‘Someone Somewhere’. There is love, submission and pain all in one ghazal. Hear it to know why it is perhaps the most heartbreaking ghazal of this list. I can never go beyond my favorite part which remains
उनकी एक नज़र, काम कर गयी
होश अब कहाँ, होशियार में..
10. Ye Zindagi – A somewhat gloomy Nazm which was featured first in ‘Insight’. In my view it somehow got overshadowed because ‘Garaj baras pyaasi dharti pe, phir paani de maula’ and this ghazal from ‘Neem ka ped’ was also featured in the same album. If there was ever a composition that made you pause and reflect, it is this!
I can go on and on but when Jagjit Singh decided to stop on 10 October 2011, it is impossible that I would enlist anything beyond the number 10 in this post. Do suggest your favorite ‘not so popular’ work from Jagjit Singh.
Not everyone listens to Jagjit Singh these days. Not everyone explores Jagjit Singh. I wonder why.