Jagjit Singh

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Jagjit Singh ( The Ghazal King )
Jagjit Singh (Ghazal Maestro).jpg
Jagjit Singh performing at Rabindra Mandap, Bhubaneswar, on 7 September 2011
Born Jagmohan Singh Dhiman
(1941-02-08)8 February 1941
Sri Ganganagar, Bikaner State
(now Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, India)
Died 10 October 2011(2011-10-10) (aged 70)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Occupation Composer, singer, music director
Chitra Singh (m. 1969)
Children Vivek
Musical career
Genres Ghazal, classical, devotional, folk
Instruments Vocals, harmonium, tanpura, piano
Years active 1960–2011
Labels EMI, 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), popularly known as " The Ghazal King " or " King of Ghazals ", was an iconic Indian Ghazal singer, composer and musician. He is the most successful ghazal singer in India and created the craze for non-film music among music lovers. According to Google Search Trends, Jagjit Singh is people's first choice - both in India and abroad, when it came to songs, lyrics and mp3s of ghazals. 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 set of two postal stamps in his honour.[1]

Jagjit 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 (1982) , 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 90 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 poet – in two albums, Nayi Disha (1999) and Samvedna (2002).[citation needed]

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 endeavours such as the library at St. Mary's School, Mumbai, Bombay Hospital, CRY, Save the Children and ALMA.

Early life and career

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

Jagjit Singh was born in Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, India (then Bikaner State).[4] His father Sardar Amar Singh Dhiman was a surveyor with government's public works department and hailed from village Dalla, District Ropar in Punjab and mother Sardarni Bachchan Kaur was a housewife who was raised in a deeply religious family in Ottallan village near Samralla.[citation needed]

Educated initially at Khalsa High School and Government College in Sri Ganganagar, Singh obtained an arts degree from DAV College in Jalandhar.[5] There he began his professional career in 1961 by undertaking singing and composing assignments at All India Radio's (AIR) Jalandhar station.[4] 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 Chaganlal Sharma and later from Ustad Jamaal Khan of Senia 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.[4]

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 Bollywood 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 Bangladesh-born Chitra Dutta.[5] She divorced her husband and married Singh in December 1969.[4] 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[5]

The Unforgettable, which was the couple's first LP,[4] was an unconventional recording and it turned them into stars. The song "Baat Niklegi" from the album achieved great popularity for the Singhs.[7] 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].[8]

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 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.[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,[8] 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.[7][10]


Release Year Album Name Songs
1982 The Latest
  1. Woh Kaghaz Ki Kasthi
  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. Mere Dukh Ki Koi Dawa Na Karo
  7. Badi Haseen Raat Thi
  8. Teri Ankhon Mein Hamne Kya Dekha
  9. La Pila De Sharab Ai Saqi
1 December 1986 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

Personal life

In 1990, Vivek (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 toured the UK 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][12]

A number of tributes have been paid to Singh after his death,[13][14][15][16][17] and some tried to cash in on his popularity, which was criticised by his wife.[18]


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.[19] 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 Primvevideo in India. It is expected to see worldwide release soon.[20]


  • In 2012, State Government of Rajasthan posthumously awarded Jagjit Singh its highest civilian award, the Rajasthan Ratna.[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]
  • 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.[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 India honoured Jagjit Singh with a doodle on his 72nd birthday on 8 February 2013.[25]

Film scores

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"
Abhishek 1987 "Deewaron Pe Naqsh Banane Ka Hai Junoon",
"Meri Ajab Hai Zindagi"
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 (Title song - Munh ki baat sune har koii)
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 (Title song - "Hai Lau Zindagi")
Dushman 1998 "Chhitti Na Koi Sandesh"
Bhopal Express 1999 "Is duniya mein rakha kya hai"
Sarfarosh 1999 "Hosh Walon Ko"
Heena 1999 TV serial
Pal Chhin 1999 TV serial (Title song - Koi atka hua hai pal shayad)
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"
Tum Bin 2 2016 "Teri Fariyaad"


See also


  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 Sawhney, Anubha (10 November 2002). "Unforgettable moments with Jagjit Singh". Times of India. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  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 "Jagjit Singh". The Telegraph. 11 October 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  8. ^ a b "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. ^ "Jagjit Singh dies in Mumbai hospital". 10 October 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  12. ^ "Jagjit Singh, famous Indian singer, dies at age 70". The Guardian. 23 January 2008. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  13. ^ Shariq Majeed (21 February 2012). "An emotional tribute to ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh". The Times of India. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  14. ^ Badola, Shreya (10 February 2012). "'Jagjit Singh was one in a million'". DNA. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ Pal, Divya (11 February 2012). "A musical tribute to Jagjit Singh". The Times of India. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  17. ^ "A musical tribute to Jagjit Singh". Mid Day. Mumbai. 17 February 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  18. ^ "Jagjit Singh's name used for minting money". Zee News. 5 February 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  19. ^ "Jagjit Singh... beyond time". The HIndu. 11 November 2002. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  20. ^ "Jagjit Singh... Kaagaz Ki Kashti". The Hindu. 15 July 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  21. ^ "Govt names seven for Rajasthan Ratna award". The Times of India. 31 March 2012. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  22. ^ a b "'Music is therapeutic'". The Hindu. 20 May 2002. 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
  25. ^ Deoras, Neha Pandey (8 February 2013). "Google celebrates Jagjit Singh's birthday with a doodle". 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

  • Jagjit Singh on BBC
  • Jagjit Singh on IMDb
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