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Jagjit Singh

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Jagjit Singh
Jagjit Singh performing at Rabindra Mandap, Bhubaneswar, on 7 September 2011
Jagmohan Singh Dhiman

(1941-02-08)8 February 1941
Died10 October 2011(2011-10-10) (aged 70)
Occupation(s)Music director, composer, singer
(m. 1969)
Musical career
GenresGhazal, classical, devotional, folk, Bhajan
Instrument(s)Vocals, harmonium, tanpura, piano, tabla
Years active1960–2011
LabelsEMI, HMV, Saregama, Universal, Sony BMG, CBS, Polydor, TIPS, Venus, T-Series, Magna Sound, Big, Times

Jagjit Singh (born Jagmohan Singh Dhiman; 8 February 1941 – 10 October 2011) was an Indian composer, singer and musician. He composed and sang in numerous languages and 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 (1982), and Saath Saath (1982), and TV serials Mirza Ghalib (1988) and Kahkashan (1991). 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 many albums, the range and breadth of his work has been regarded as genre-defining.

Singh's 1987 album, Beyond Time, was the first digitally recorded release in India.[1] He was regarded as one of India's most influential artists. With sitar player 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 endeavours such as the library at St. Mary's School, Mumbai, Bombay Hospital, CRY, Save the Children and ALMA.

Singh was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the government of India in 2003 and in February 2014, the government released a set of two postal stamps in his honour.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Jagjit Singh (middle) with poet Shahid Kabir and his son, Sameer Kabeer

Jagjit Singh Dhiman was born at Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, India (then Bikaner State) into a Namdhari family.[3][4] His father, Sardar Amar Singh Dhiman, was a surveyor with the government's Public Works' Department and hailed from village Dalla in Ropar district of Punjab.

Educated initially at Khalsa High School and Government College in Sri Ganganagar, Singh obtained an arts degree from DAV College, Jalandhar.[5] There, he began his professional career in 1961 by undertaking singing and composing assignments at All India Radio's (AIR) Jalandhar station.[3] Later, he studied to obtain 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 initially from a visually impaired master of Indian classical music, Pandit Chagan Lal Sharma and later from Ustad Jamal Khan of Maihar gharana, who taught and trained him in all the prominent styles of Hindustani Classical vocal tradition such as Khayal, Dhrupad, Thumri and others. Throughout his teenage years, he performed on stage and composed music. Although his father, who was a government employee, had hoped that he would become an engineer,[5] Singh pursued his passion for music relentlessly. Like all parents in Indian middle-class families, his father aspired for him to become a bureaucrat. However, he also encouraged Singh and his siblings to learn music.[3]

In March 1965, and without the knowledge of his family,[5] Singh moved to Bombay, where there were many opportunities for music artists because of the Hindi film industry. He obtained work initially as a singer of advertising jingles and later progressed to playback singing.[6]


Singh with Lata Mangeshkar at the audio release of Saadgi

Singh was still struggling to make a living in 1967 when he met the Bengali-born Chitra Dutta.[5] She divorced her husband and married Singh in December 1969.[3] Following the birth of their son, Vivek, the couple performed as a singing duo but it was not until the 1977 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[5] and especially those from Pakistan.[7]

The Unforgettable, which was the couple's first LP,[3] was an unconventional recording and it turned them into stars. The song "Baat Niklegi" from the album achieved great popularity for the Singhs.[8] 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."[6] 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,.[5][7]

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, "The Latest" by Sudarshan Faakir was the best selling album with his lifetime hit "Woh Kagaz ki Kashti...Woh Baarish ka Paani". It was the first album by the duo with poetry of only one Poet. Ecstasies (1984) has also been described as "one of their finest".[6] The joint projects ceased in 1990 when their 20-year-old son, Vivek, died in a road accident. Chitra felt unable to sing following these events. Monica, Chitra's daughter from her first marriage, committed suicide in 2009.[5][6]

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,[7] he collaborated with Lata Mangeshkar on an album titled Sajda, an Urdu word meaning "prostration".[5][6]

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]

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.[10]


Release Year Album Name Songs
1982 The Latest
  1. Woh Kaghaz Ki Kashti
  2. Shayad Main Zindagi Ki Sahar
  3. Zindagi Tujh Ko Jiya Hai
  4. Us Mod Se Shuroo Karen
  5. Jis Mod Par Kiye The
  6. Badi Haseen Raat Thi
  7. Teri Ankhon Mein Hamne Kya Dekha
  8. La Pila De Sharab Ai Saqi
1 December 1990 Someone Somewhere
  1. Din Guzar Gaya
  2. Meri Zindagi Kisi Aur Ki
  3. Ab Ke Barsat Ki Rut
  4. Fasila To Hai
  5. Aadmi Aadmi Ko Kya Dega
  6. Mere Dukh Ki Koi Dawa Na Karo
  7. Koi Samjhega Kya Raz-E-Gulshan
  8. Dekha To Mera Saya Bhi
  9. Dil Hi To Hai
1 February 1996 Mirage
  1. Apni marzi se
  2. Dushman ko bhi seene se lagana
  3. Ek barahman ne kaha hai
  4. Koi chaudavi raat ka chaand
  5. Main rahe meena rahe
  6. Mujhe jeene do
  7. Rishta kya hai tera mera
  8. Zindagi se badi sazaa hi nahin
1998 Silsilay
  1. Main Bhool Jaau
  2. Mere Dil Ne Kaha
  3. Jaate Jaate Woh Mujhe
  4. Dard Apnata Hain
  5. Mujhko Yaqeen Hain
  6. Sach Yeh Hain Bekaar
  7. Dard Ke Phool Bhi
  8. Kabhi Yu Bhi To
2000 Saher
  1. Tere Baare Mein Jab Socha Nahi Tha
  2. Mujhse Bicchad Ke Khush Rehti Ho
  3. Tumne Dil Ki Baat Keh Di
  4. Mujhe Hosh Nahin
  5. Yeh Jo Zindagi Ki Kitaab Hai
  6. Yaad Nahin Kya Kya Dekha Tha
  7. Charage Ishq Jalaane Ki Raat Aaye Hai
  8. Tere Aane Ki Jab Khabar Mehke

Personal life[edit]

In 1990, Vivek Singh (Jagjit Singh and Chitra's son) died in a road accident at the age of 20. This came as a profound shock to Jagjit and Chitra Singh. They gave up music for a full year after the death. At the end of that period, Jagjit returned slowly to music, but Chitra announced her retirement and declared that she would not sing or record any more songs.

Singh had suffered from numerous ailments like diabetes and hypertension during his later life, and had undergone two heart bypass surgeries in 1998 and 2007. A chain smoker for decades, he had stopped smoking after his first heart attack.


Singh turned 70 in February 2011. To celebrate his 70th birthday he committed 70 concerts in different parts of the world. He toured the UK, Singapore, Mauritius, inter alias, in 2011 and was due to perform with Ghulam Ali in Mumbai[5] but suffered a brain haemorrhage on 23 September 2011. He was in a coma for over two weeks and died on 10 October at Lilavati Hospital, in Mumbai. He was cremated the following day at Chandanwadi Crematorium near Marine Lines in Mumbai.[11]

A number of tributes have been paid to Singh after his death,[12][13][14][15][16] and some tried to cash in on his popularity, which was criticised by his wife.[17]


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.[18] A biopic documentary by the name of Kaagaz Ki Kashti has been made on the life journey of Jagjit Singh, who broke through the norms and revolutionised the Ghazal scenario. The film traces the struggle and stardom in his musical career, the love & loss in his personal life and the scope and limitations in the music scenario of the times. The film directed by Brahmanand S Singh is currently available on Amazon Prime Video in India and worldwide.[19]


  • In 2012, the State Government of Rajasthan posthumously awarded Jagjit Singh its highest civilian award, the Rajasthan Ratna.[20]
  • In 2002 and 2005, Singh was awarded the Indian Telly Award for the best title singer for a TV show.[21]
  • In 2003, Singh was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian award, by the government of India[5]
  • In 1998, Jagjit Singh was awarded Sahitya Academy Award, a literary honour in India. He was awarded for popularising the work of Mirza Ghalib.[22]
  • 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.[23]
  • Lata Mangeshkar Samman in 1998 by Madhya Pradesh government.[22]
  • D.Litt. by Kurukshetra University, Haryana in 2003[citation needed]
  • Teacher's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.8th Teacher's Achievement Awards.[24]
  • Google honoured Jagjit Singh with a doodle on his 72nd birthday on 8 February 2013.[25]

Film scores[edit]

Year Film name Details
1966 Bahuroopi "Laagi Ram bhajan ni lagani"[26]
1974 Avishkaar "Babul Mora Naihar"
1979 Griha Pravesh "Baat Niklegi Toh Phir"
1980 Ek Baar Kaho "Raakh Ke Dher Ne",
"Phir Pukara Hai"
1981 Prem Geet "Hontho se chhoo lo tum"
1982 Arth "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 "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"
1983 Kalka "Tarana",
"Kaise Kaise Rang"
Tum Laut Aao "Aaj Tumse Bichhad Raha Hoon Main",
"Ek Sapnon Ka Ghar",
"Kadi Takreta Haal",
"Title Music",
"Tere Sapne Mere Sapne",
"Zakhm Jo Aapki Inayat Hai",
"Bichhadi Mori Saheliyan"
Zulf Ke Saye Saye "Nashili Raat Mein"
1984 Raavan "Hum to Yun Apni Zindagi Se Mile",
"Main Gar Mein Chunariya"
Bhavna "Mere Dil Mein Tu Hi Tu Hai"
1985 Phir Aayee Barsat "Na Mohabbat Na Dosti Ke Liye"
1986 Aashiana "Humsafar Ban Ke Hum"
Long Da Lishkara "Ishq Hai Loko",
"Main Kandyali Thor Ve",
"Sare Pindch Puare Paye"
1987 Abhishek "Deewaron Pe Naqsh Banane Ka Hai Junoon",
"Meri Ajab Hai Zindagi"
Rahi "Zindagi Mein Sada Muskurate Raho",
"Dard Kaisa Bhi Ho"
Aaj "Rishta Ye Kaisa Hai",
"Woh Kagaz Ki Kashti Part 1",
"Woh Kagaz Ki Kashti Part 2,
"Phir Aaj Mujhe",
"Zindagi Roz Naye"
1988 Mirza Ghalib TV serial directed by Gulzar
1989 Aakhri Kahani
Doosra Kanoon (TV) "Hum Dosti Ehsaan Wafa Bhool Gaye Hain"
Kaanoon Ki Awaaz Music Director
Billoo Badshah "Yeh Jo Ghar Aangan Hai (Sad)"
1991 Kahkashan TV serial directed by Jalal Agha, produced by Ali Sardar Jafri
Diva Bale Sari Raat "Boliyan",
"Mitti Da Bawa",
"Main Teri Aa",
"Dama Dam Mast Kalandar",
"Diva Bale Sari Raat"
1992 Nargis "Dono Ke Dil Hai Majboor Pyar Se",
"Main Kasie Kahoon Janeman"
1993 Khalnayak "O Maa Tujhe Salaam"
1994 Neem Ka Ped TV serial (Title song - Munh ki baat sune har koii)
Khudai "Din Aa Gaye Shabab Ke",
"Ulfat Ka Jab Kisis Ne Liya Naam",
"Ye Sheeshe Ye Rishte"
Mammo "Hazaar Baar Ruke Ham, Hazaar Baar Chale"
1994 Daraar TV serial (Title song - Rishton Mein Daraar Aayee)
1995 Hello Zindagi TV documentary (Title song - "Hai Lau Zindagi")
1996 Sailaab TV serial (Title song - Apni Marzi Se, Rishta Kya Hai Tera Mera, Jeevan Kya Hai Chalta Phirta)
Tejasvini "Raat Ghataye Jaadu Khushboo"
1998 Dushman "Chithi Na Koi Sandesh"
1999 Bhopal Express "Is duniya mein rakha kya hai"
Sarfarosh "Hosh Walon Ko"
Heena TV serial (Title song - Koi Yeh Kaise Bataye)
Pal Chhin TV serial (Title song - Koi atka hua hai pal shayad)
2000 Tarkieb "Kiska Chehra ab mai dekhun"
Shaheed Udham Singh "Sassi",
2001 Deham "Yun To Guzar Raha Hai"
Tum Bin "Koi Fariyaad"
2002 Leela "Dhuan Uttha Hai",
"Jaag Ke Kati",
"Jabse Kareeb Ho Ke Chale",
"Tere Khayal Ki"
Vadh "Bahut Khoobsurat"
2003 Dhoop "Benaam Sa Ye Dard",
"Har Ek Ghar Mein Diya",
"Teri Aankhon Se Hi"
Joggers' Park "Badi Nazuk Hai"
Pinjar "Haath choote"
Aapko Pehle Bhi Kahin Dekha Hai "Aisi Aankhen Nahin Dekhi"
2004 Veer-Zaara "Tum Paas Aa Rahe Ho"
STOP "Dil Tarasta Hai"
2005 Aap Ko Dekh Kar Dekhta Reh Gaya
2006 Umar "Khumari Chaddh Ke Utar Gayi"
Baabul "Kehta Hain Baabul"
2007 Pyar Kare Dis: Feel the Power of Love "O Saathi"
2010 Shahrukh Bola "Khoobsurat Hai Tu" "Bhool Jaana"
2011 Gandhi to Hitler "Har or tabahi ka manzar"
Khap "Tumse Bichhad Kar"
2013 Riwayat "Aansu Kabhi Chhalke Nahi"


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mathur, Asharani; Mathur, edited by AshaRani (2002). Beyond time : the ageless music of Jagjit Singh. New Delhi: Habitat Arts. ISBN 978-8190156301. {{cite book}}: |author2= has generic name (help)
  2. ^ "PM Manmohan Singh releases Stamp to Honor Jagjit Singh". IANS. news.biharprabha.com. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e Sawhney, Anubha (10 November 2002). "Unforgettable moments with Jagjit Singh". Times of India. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  4. ^ "When Jagjit Singh's father 'almost ended relationship' with singer for cutting hair and beard; he was barred from performance due to the new look". The Indian Express. 10 October 2022. Retrieved 6 August 2023. But Singh also had to face graver repercussions of this step. It "almost put an end to his connection with his father" who took offence as cutting hair is against the Namdhari Sikh principles.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b c d e Hunt, Ken (13 October 2011). "Jagjit Singh: Singer hailed as the maestro of Indian ghazal". The Independent. London. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  7. ^ a b c "Indian singer Jagjit Singh dies". BBC. 10 October 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  8. ^ "Jagjit Singh". The Telegraph. 11 October 2011. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 1 March 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. Archived from the original on 15 October 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  11. ^ "Jagjit Singh, famous Indian singer, dies at age 70". The Guardian. 23 January 2008. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  12. ^ Shariq Majeed (21 February 2012). "An emotional tribute to ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  13. ^ Badola, Shreya (10 February 2012). "'Jagjit Singh was one in a million'". DNA. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  14. ^ "Shaan's tribute to late Jagjit Singh on his birth anniversary". Mid-Day. 8 February 2012. Archived from the original on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  15. ^ Pal, Divya (11 February 2012). "A musical tribute to Jagjit Singh". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  16. ^ "A musical tribute to Jagjit Singh". Mid-Day. Mumbai. 17 February 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  17. ^ "Jagjit Singh's name used for minting money". Zee News. 5 February 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  18. ^ "Jagjit Singh... beyond time". The Hindu. 11 November 2002. Archived from the original on 1 July 2003. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  19. ^ "Jagjit Singh... Kaagaz Ki Kashti". The Hindu. 15 July 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  20. ^ "Govt names seven for Rajasthan Ratna award". The Times of India. 31 March 2012. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  21. ^ "Indian Telly Awards".
  22. ^ a b "'Music is therapeutic'". The Hindu. 20 May 2002. Archived from the original on 19 October 2003. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  23. ^ "Annual Dayawati Modi Award for Art / Culture / Education". Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  24. ^ http://www.teachersachievementawards.com/pdf/taa_2006.pdf [bare URL PDF]
  25. ^ Deoras, Neha Pandey (8 February 2013). "Google celebrates Jagjit Singh's birthday with a doodle". Business Standard India. Retrieved 15 March 2018 – via Business Standard.
  26. ^ "The Gujarati song that launched Jagjit Singh's career - Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dnaindia.com. 11 October 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2018.

External links[edit]