Jagjit Singh

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Jagjit Singh
Jagjit Singh (Ghazal Maestro).jpg
Jagjit Singh performing at Jaidev Hall, Bhubaneswar, on 7 September 2011
Background information
Birth name Jagmohan Singh
Born (1941-02-08)8 February 1941
Sri Ganganagar, Bikaner princely state, India
Died 10 October 2011(2011-10-10) (aged 70)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Genres Ghazal, Classical, Devotional, Folk
Occupation(s) Composer, Singer, Music Director, Professional Wrestler
Instruments Vocals, Harmonium, Tanpura, Piano
Years active 1965–2011
Labels EMI, HMV, Saregama, Universal Music, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Polydor, TIPS, Venus, T-Series, Magna Sound, Big Music, Times Music

Jagjit Singh, born Jagmohan Singh (8 February 1941 – 10 October 2011), was a prominent Indian Ghazal singer, songwriter and musician. Known as the "Ghazal King", he gained acclaim together with his wife, another renowned Indian ghazal singer Chitra Singh in the 1970s and 1980s. Their combination album comprising music from the films, Arth and Saath Saath is the HMV's largest selling combination album of all time.[citation needed] Sajda (An Offering, 1991), Jagjit Singh's magnum opus double album with Lata Mangeshkar holds the same record in non-film category.[citation needed] He sang in numerous languages. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the government of India in 2003. In February 2014, Government of India released a postal stamp in his honour.[1]

Singh is credited for the revival and popularity of ghazal, an Indian classical art form, by choosing poetry that was relevant to the masses and composing them in a way that laid more emphasis on the meaning of words and melody evoked by them. In terms of Indian Classical music, his style of composing and Gayaki (singing) is considered as Bol-pradhan, one that lays emphasis on words. He highlighted this in his music for films such as Prem Geet (1981), Arth and Saath Saath (1982), and TV serials Mirza Ghalib (1988) and Kahkashan (1991). Jagjit Singh is considered to be the most successful ghazal singer and composer of all time in terms of critical acclaim and commercial success. With a career spanning five decades and a repertoire comprising over 80 albums,[2] the range and breadth of his work has been regarded as genre-defining. He is the only composer and singer to have composed and recorded songs written by former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee — also a critically acclaimed poet — in two albums, Nayi Disha (1999) and Samvedna (2002).

Singh's 1987 album, Beyond Time, was the first digitally recorded release in India.[3] He was regarded as one of India's most influential artists. With sitar legend Ravi Shankar and other leading figures of Indian classical music and literature, Singh voiced his concerns over politicisation of arts and culture in India and lack of support experienced by the practitioners of India's traditional art forms, particularly folk artists and musicians. He lent active support to several philanthropic endeavors such as the library at St. Mary's School, Mumbai, Bombay Hospital, CRY, Save the Children and ALMA.

Early life and career[edit]

Jagjit Singh was born on 8 February 1941 in Sri Ganganagar, Bikaner princely state (now in Rajasthan), India. His birth name was Jagmohan but this was changed to Jagjit after his parents sought the advice of a member of the Sikh Namdhari sect.[4] His parents were Sikh — Amar Singh and Bachan Kaur — and had several other children, with sources variously reporting the number between six and eleven.[5][6]

Educated initially at Khalsa High School and Sri Ganganagar Government College, Singh obtained an arts degree from DAV College at Jalandhar and then a post-graduate degree in history from Kurukshetra University in Haryana. Throughout this time, and as a consequence of a natural talent that was spotted by his father, Singh learned music in Gurdwaras (Sikh temples) and from musicians such as Pandit Chaganlal Sharma and Ustad Jamaal Khan, both of whom were trained in classical Indian music. He performed on radio and on stage, as well as composing some material, although he subsequently claimed that his father, who was a government employee, had hoped that he would become an engineer.[7] On another occasion his memory was that his father aspired for him to become a bureaucrat and that his siblings were encouraged musically.[5]

In March 1965, and without the knowledge of his family,[7] Singh moved to Mumbai, where there were many opportunities for music artists because of the Bollywood film industry. He obtained work initially as a singer of advertising jingles and later progressed to playback singing.[4] In the same year he persuaded the record company HMV to produce an EP; he also altered his Sikh image by abandoning his turban, shaving and cutting his hair.[7] His first film role was in Dharati Na Chhoru, a Gujarati production by Suresh Amin.[citation needed]


Singh was still struggling to make a living in 1967 when he met the Bengali-born Chitra Dutta.[7] She divorced her husband and married Singh in December 1969.[5] Following the birth of their son, Vivek, the couple performed as a singing duo but it was not until the 1976[clarification needed] release of the album The Unforgettable that they found significant, and surprising, success. In the interval, the primary difficulty for them had been that the ghazal music genre was dominated by Muslim artists[7] and especially those from Pakistan.[8]

The Unforgettable, which was the couple's first LP,[5] was an unconventional recording and it turned them into stars. The song "Baat Niklaygi" from the album achieved great popularity for the Singhs.[6] The Independent described it in 2011 as "ground-breaking ... it became a transformative, before-and-after milestone in the history of Indian popular and ghazals music. It remains that." Using modern arrangements, it consists of ten tracks that include two on which they sang as a duo and the remainder equally split between Jagjit and Chitra singing the lead. The Independent further noted that "This format of solo and duet performances from the first commercially successful husband-and-wife team in Indian popular music proved astonishingly successful."[4] Jagjit explained that "I was determined to polish up the genre and make it more acceptable to modern tastes, so chose simple poems and set them to simple tunes. I also introduced western instrumentation to make them livelier." Thereafter, the couple worked both on solo and joint musical projects and performed concerts worldwide. There was success from involvement with the film industry and they amassed considerable wealth,[7] while Jagjit became known as "the Ghazal king".[8]

Jagjit Singh's work in film[9] encompassed playback singing for productions such as Arth, Saath Saath and Premgeet. He composed all of the songs for the latter, as well as for the TV serial Mirza Ghalib that was based on the life of the eponymous poet, Mirza Ghalib.[citation needed]

His Punjabi Tappe with Chitra, recorded in BBC studios 1979 for the show 'Naya Zindagi Naya Jeevan' is still popularly played in the Indian weddings. Popular actors like Moushmi Chatterjee attended the concert as audience.Among their subsequent duo recordings of the 1970s were Shiv Kumar Batalvi – Birha da Sultan (1978), Live in Concert at Wembley (1979) and Come Alive (1979). Of those released in the 1980s, Ecstasies (1984) has been described as "one of their finest".[4] The joint projects ceased in 1990 when their 18-year-old son, Vivek, was killed in a road accident. Chitra felt unable to sing following these events. Monica, Chitra's daughter from her first marriage, committed suicide in 2009.[4][7]

Although Jagjit continued to work and to have success after Chitra withdrew from public life he, too, was affected by the death of Vivek. The Guardian notes that he "suffered from deep depression and his anguish was often evident in his live performances." Aside from occupying himself with solo projects, which he performed in several languages,[8] he collaborated with Lata Mangeshkar on an album titled Sajda, an Urdu word meaning "prostration".[4][7]

On 10 May 2007, in the presence of numerous political and diplomatic luminaries at an event held in the Central Hall of the Parliament of India, Jagjit Singh rendered Bahadur Shah Zafar's famous ghazal Lagta nahin hai dil mera to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.[6][10] Google India honoured Jagjit Singh with a doodle on his 72nd birthday on 8 February 2013.[11][12][13]


The couple took several innovative steps which not only promoted their career but also changed the character and perception of Ghazal singing radically. The effect of their innovations was three-fold: firstly, it brought the Ghazal to common people; secondly, it freed the Ghazal from the perception that it was a "Muslim" art-form and made it both available to and accepted by Hindu and Sikh audiences; thirdly, it introducing the Ghazal genre of singing to language-groups such as Bengali, Punjabi and Hindi.

Ghazal singing had until then been confined to "mehfils" (Soirees ) performed for small, elite audiences and usually held at the residence of a wealthy host. The couple were among the first set of professional singers to perform before large audiences of ticket-purchasing middle-class audiences. This not only increased their popularity but also vastly boosted the sale of their albums.

The duo also sang songs in the Hindi, Punjabi and Bengali languages, apart from the Urdu and Persian languages to which Ghazal-singing had been confined until then. This was another revolutionary step, which brought Ghazals into the ambit of the common people of India. A third step which promoted their singing career was the fact that they moved beyond strict Ghazal singing into the field of Hindu devotional music. They released albums of devotional hymns and songs, including Krishna, Chirag, Hey Ram and various Shabad kirtans of the Sikh faith (to which Jagjit belonged). Krishna is one of the largest-selling titles in the devotional music category in India.


Singh toured the UK in 2011 and was due to perform with Ghulam Ali in Mumbai[7] but suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on 23 September 2011. He was in a coma for over two weeks and died on 10 October 2011 at Lilavati Hospital, in Mumbai. He was cremated the following day at Chandanwadi Crematorium in Mumbai.[14][15]

A number of tributes have been paid to Singh after his death,[16][17][18][19][20] and some tried to cash in on his popularity, which was criticised by his wife.[21]


A biography of Singh, entitled Beyond Time based on about 40 hours of interviews with him, was released in 2012. It was transcribed and edited by Ashrani Mathur .[22]


  • In 2012, State Government of Rajasthan posthumously awarded Jagjit Singh its highest civilian award, the Rajasthan Ratna.[23]
  • In 2003, Singh was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian award, by the government of India[7]
  • In 1998, Jagjit Singh was awarded Sahitya Academy Award, a literary honor in India. He was awarded for popularizing the work of Mirza Ghalib.[24]
  • Sangeet Natak Academy Award[citation needed]
  • Sahitya Kala Academy Award by Rajasthan government in 1998[citation needed]
  • Ghalib Academy by Delhi Government in 2005[citation needed]
  • Dayawati Modi Award in 1999.[25]
  • Lata Mangeshkar Samman in 1998 by Madhya Pradesh government.[24]
  • D. Litt. by Kurukshetra University, Haryana in 2003[citation needed]
  • Teacher's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.8th Teacher's Achievement Awards

Film scores[edit]

Film name Year Details
Bahuroopi 1966 "Laagi Ram bhajan ni lagani"[26]
Avishkaar 1974 "Babul Mora Naihar"
Griha Pravesh 1979
Ek Baar Kaho 1980 "Raakh Ke Dher Ne",
"Phir Pukara Hai"
Prem Geet 1981 "Hontho se chhoo lo tum"
Arth 1982 "Jhuki Jhuki Si Nazar",
"Koi Yeh Kaise Bataye",
"Tere Khushboo Mein Base Khat",
"Too Nahin To Zindagi Mein Aur Kya Reha Jayega",
"Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho"
Saath Saath 1982 "Pyar Mujh Se Jo Kiya Tumne",
"Tum Ko Dekha To Yeh Khayal Aaya",
"Yeh Bata De Mujhe Zindagi",
"Yeh Bata De Mujhe Zindagi",
"Yeh Tera Ghar Yeh Mera Ghar",
"Yun Zindagi Ki Raah Mein"
Sitam 1982
Kalka 1983
Tum Laut Aao 1983
Zulf Ke Saye Saye 1983 "Nashili Raat Mein"
Ravan 1984 "Hum to Yun Apni Zindagi Se Mile",
"Main Gar Mein Chunariya"
Bhavna 1984 "Mere Dil Mein Tu Hi Tu Hai"
Phir Aayee Barsat 1985 "Na Mohabbat Na Dosti Ke Liye"
Aashiana 1986 "Humsafar Ban Ke Hum"
Long Da Lishkara 1986 "Ishq Hai Loko",
"Main Kandyali Thor Ve",
"Sare Pindch Puare Paye"
Rahi 1987
Mirza Ghalib 1988 TV serial directed by Gulzar
Aakhri Kahani 1989
Doosra Kanoon 1989 TV
Kaanoon Ki Awaaz 1989
Billoo Badshah 1989
Nargis 1992 "Dono Ke Dil Hai Majboor Pyar Se",
"Main Kasie Kahoon Janeman"
Khalnayak 1993 "O Maa Tujhe Salaam"
Neem Ka Ped 1994 TV serial ("Muunh ki baat sune har koii (Title Song)")
Khudai 1994 "Din Aa Gaye Shabab Ke",
"Ulfat Ka Jab Kisis Ne Liya Naam",
"Ye Sheeshe Ye Rishte"
Mammo 1994 "Hazaar baar ruke ham, hazaar baar chale"
Hello Zindagi 1995 TV documentary ("Hai Lau Zindagi (Title Song)")
Dushman 1998 "Chhitti Na Koi Sandesh"
Bhopal Express (film) 1999 "Is duniya mein rakha kya hai"
Sarfarosh 1999 "Hosh Walon Ko"
Heena 1999 TV serial
Tarkieb 2000 "Kiska Chehra ab mai dekhun"
Shaheed Udham Singh 2000
Deham 2001 "Yun To Guzar Raha Hai"
Tum Bin 2001 "Koi Fariyaad"
Leela 2002 "Dhuan Uttha Hai",
"Jaag Ke Kati",
"Jabse Kareeb Ho Ke Chale",
"Tere Khayal Ki"
Vadh 2002 "Bahut Khoobsurat"
Dhoop 2003 "Benaam Sa Ye Dard",
"Har Ek Ghar Mein Diya",
"Teri Aankhon Se Hi"
Joggers' Park 2003 "Badi Nazuk Hai"
Pinjar 2003 "Haath choote"
Aapko Pehle Bhi Kahin Dekha Hai 2003 "Aisi Aankhen Nahin Dekhi"
Veer-Zaara 2004 "Tum paas aa rahe ho"
STOP 2004 "Dil Tarasta Hai"
Aap Ko Dekh Kar Dekhta Reh Gaya 2005
Umar 2006 "Khumari Chaddh Ke Utar Gayi"
Pyar Kare Dis: Feel the Power of Love 2007
Shahrukh Bola "Khoobsurat Hai Tu" 2010 "Bhool Jaana"
Gandhi to Hitler 2011 "Har or tabahi ka manzar"
Khap 2011 "Tumse Bichhad Kar"



  1. ^ "PM Manmohan Singh releases Stamp to Honor Jagjit Singh". IANS. news.biharprabha.com. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  2. ^ "Jagjit Singh Passes Away". Ikonz Mag. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  3. ^ Mathur, Asharani; Mathur, edited by AshaRani (2002). Beyond time : the ageless music of Jagjit Singh. New Delhi: Habitat Arts. ISBN 978-8190156301. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Hunt, Ken (13 October 2011). "Jagjit Singh: Singer hailed as the maestro of Indian ghazal". The Independent (London). Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d Sawhney, Anubha (10 November 2002). "Unforgettable moments with Jagjit Singh". Times of India. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c "Jagjit Singh". The Telegraph. 11 October 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Nazir, Asjad (25 October 2011). "Jagjit Singh obituary". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c "Indian singer Jagjit Singh dies". BBC. 10 October 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "Tributes to Jagjit Singh". Asian Image. 10 October 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Vyas, Neena (11 May 2007). "Small streams of protest swelled into national movement to regain freedom, says Kalam". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "Google India celebrates Jagjit's Birthday". 
  12. ^ http://gadgets.ndtv.com/others/news/google-doodles-ghazal-king-jagjit-singhs-72nd-birthday-328027
  13. ^ http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/google-celebrates-jagjit-singh-s-birthday-with-a-doodle-113020800553_1.html
  14. ^ "Ghazal king Jagjit Singh dies in Mumbai hospital". NDTV. 10 October 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2011. 
  15. ^ "Jagjit Singh, famous Indian singer, dies at age 70". The Guardian. 23 January 2008. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  16. ^ Shariq Majeed (21 February 2012). "An emotional tribute to ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh". The Times of India. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  17. ^ Badola, Shreya (10 February 2012). "‘Jagjit Singh was one in a million’". DNA. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  18. ^ "Shaan's tribute to late Jagjit Singh on his birth anniversary". Mid Day. 8 February 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  19. ^ Pal, Divya (11 February 2012). "A musical tribute to Jagjit Singh". The Times of India. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  20. ^ "A musical tribute to Jagjit Singh". Mid Day (Mumbai). 17 February 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  21. ^ "Jagjit Singh’s name used for minting money". Zee News. 5 February 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  22. ^ "Jagjit Singh... beyond time". The HIndu. 11 November 2002. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  23. ^ "Govt names seven for Rajasthan Ratna award". The Times of India. 31 Mar 2012. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  24. ^ a b "'Music is therapeutic'". The Hindu. 20 May 2002. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  25. ^ "Annual Dayawati Modi Award for Art / Culture / Education". Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  26. ^ http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_the-gujarati-song-that-launched-jagjit-singhs-career_1597622

External links[edit]