23rd September 2011 brought the news that the Ghazal Maestro had suffered a brain hemorrhage. The doctors at Lilavati Hospital, Mumbai performed a life saving neurosurgery after which he was shifted to the ICU. But despite all efforts, on 10th October, 2011, he breathed his last.
Belonging to an era that witnessed revolution in the filed of music, Jagjit Singh pursued Bollywood relentlessly while his contemporaries like R.D.Burman, Ilaayaraja and Bhupinder Singh sought to change the existing notions of what music should be. The result was not too good. Jagjit Singh was not permitted to enter the hallowed portals of the Bollywood music industry and R.D.Burman and his father, the renowned S.D.Burman could not see eye to eye on this.
The man with velvet voice was heard when R.D Burman came into his own and used his voice to portray emotions that only he could do. This remarkably simple man went on to capture the heart of the nation. Once he began singing, there was no stopping him. He sang songs in movies like “Arth”, Saath saath and his songs included hits like jhuki jhuki si nazar, yeh kagaz ki kashti, ye daulat bhi le lo and hazaaron khwahishen aisi, Mein nashe me hoon and the list goes on. His voice never failed to hold his audience captive.
At the time when his form of singing became popular, ghazal was a completely different form and he had to contend with stalwarts like Begum Akhtar, Talat Mehmood and Mehdi Hasan. He infused life into a dying art and made a name for himself. The uncrowned king brought life to his ghazals with the expressions in his voice and his faithful harmonium that accompanied him everywhere.
His literary sensibilities chose the best urdu and hindi poetry and his love for music was evident in the way that he picked the right music to decorate the lyrics. As his popularity rose, he began singing hindi prayers and embellished them with Sufi music.
He cut nearly 40 albums, many of which were with his wife, Chitra Singh. The couple was shattered with the untimely death of their only son at the young age of 21. After this incident, Chitra Singh sang a few ghazals for the album “Someone Somewhere” but never after this. Jagjit Singh continued to sing and in one instance, Asha Bhosle remembers that he said, “..this is part and parcel of life. We cannot do anything about it.”
Gulzaar saab remembers the great musician as a man who was young at heart. He has just celebrated his 70th birthday and was looking forward to bringing out a new album a few days before his hemorrhage. People like Usha Uthup, Sonu Nigam, Shubha Mudgal, Pt. Jasraj, Asha Bhosle, Gulzaar, Pankaj Udhas and Ghulam Ali Khan remember this singer with fondness.
On the eve of his illness, he was to sing in a concert with Ghulam Ali Khan. The voice is completely silenced now and though he is not there physically, he will remain in the form of his songs that entertained people for such a long time.