Monday, October 10, 2011

The Guru of Ghazals

I've had my 'phases'. These ranged from the extreme depression to the exact opposite. And in one of these phases, Jagjit Singh figured prominently.

I think I was in the 10th standard back then. A sudden bout of gloom had overtaken my life. I was on the verge of literally switching career choices. I had been a 'Brilliant Tutorials' target IITJEE correspondence course student till then because well, I wanted to become an engineer. But of course things were changing drastically for me primarily due to the awesomeness of one Biology Sir (whose name I can't recall right now, and yea shame on me for that), we students of his affectionately called him that, and the ridiculously boring regimen of ICSE mathematics. I wasn't sure if that was the right thing to do, taking drastic steps with regards to career choices. My parents being neither doctors nor engineers didnt help matters. So, confused I was back then, and bored too. It was then that I found solace in someone's voice.

Jagjit Singh

My dad has always been a huge music listener. Even in my childhood I had seen cartons full of audio cassettes and photographs of musicians at every corner of the house. And dad's obsession only grew with time albeit he switched from cassettes to CDs. Jagjit Singh was someone my dad listened to back then almost daily. The Akai home theater at our place buzzed with the thick baritone of Gulzar and the melancholic voice of Singh everyday. I wasn't a fan of this 'Ghazal stuff' initially or maybe I didn't want to be. I mean lets face it, my friends were listening to Linkin Park back then, it was the cool thing, the 'in-thing'!

Yet the man grew on me, his voice did. Ghazal, which I had once thought of as 'lame' and 'slow' and 'dull' was suddenly starting to make sense. I felt as if a giant jigsaw puzzle was falling into place. The world started making sense. Soon i found myself spending hours listening to Jagjit Singh's beautiful rendition of ghazals. Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit suddenly seemed way too fake and goofy for my tastes, which of course were changing quite drastically.

It was during this 'phase' that I discovered ghazals. The entire genre became a favourite of mine. I got hold of literally every single Jagjit Singh album released till date, and my dad was only too happy to buy me all those. Now that I look back, I think he felt glad that he had finally bridged the generation gap. I was so obsessed with ghazals, especially the ones sung by Jagjit Singh, that I had almost memorised every single one! Even to this day, I can recall the lyrics of quite a few.

My interest in ghazals has since then faded. But Jagjit Singh's voice and his songs, (along with Gulzar's impeccable elocution), helped me through one of the toughest phases of my life and I can only be grateful to the man for that.

Rest in Peace, Jagjit Singh. The heavens are apparently in greater need of your songs.