Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho...

I was never a Jagjit Singh fan, per se. I was born in the late 80s (almost early 90s) and by the time I could reach an age where I could comprehend the sheer depth of his music, the Internet had taken over our lives. To me, he had always been that bespectacled gentleman who never spoke much and always sang sad, poignant songs (not that I knew what poignant meant either). Forgive my blasphemy, but for a 10-year-old, Dexter's Laboratory and Swat Kats figure much higher on the priority list. 

I do remember going to a music shop to buy a cassette (for those who do not remember, this is what it looked like). Given the steep prices at which they were sold (Rs 125 for an album required a lot of cajoling to get an approval from the High Command at home), I narrowed it down to either Backstreet Boys or a Jagjit Singh compilation. Having heard from a friend that Jagjit Singh was a 'good singer' (I know, I know), I held the cassette in my hand and looked at the cover art. It bore the picture of an old man with a gentle smile on his face, against a pale yellow background. On the other hand, there was Black and Blue, something which everyone thought was cool. I picked the latter. 

I have a decent singing voice and my music teacher at school would always choose me for the solo parts. He too suggested that I try out some songs by the Jagjit Singh, and I dutifully obliged by successfully deciphering the lyrics to My Name is Slim Shady. Ditto in college. A friend (he is perhaps one of the best singers I've ever known in my life), who'd learnt Hindustani classical music for many years told me why he liked Jagjit Singh. I heard what he had to say, tried out a song or two, but somehow couldn't see the point. 

Yesterday, when I read that Jagjit Singh had passed away, I was strangely disturbed. There was a bit of uneasiness, and when I read through all the tributes in the newspapers and on the Internet, I finally made up my mind to listen to his songs. And I got hooked. The mellifluousness  in his voice and the simplistic beauty of the words had me awestruck. I was drifting along gently on the river of music. Each song was a small island, delighting me in its own unique way. The river itself culminated into the sea of musical mastery. When Tumko Dekha Toh... came on, I closed my eyes and saw a beach. It was a calm evening and there were only two people on the beach, staring into the sunset. The waves knocked on the sandy doors of the beach and scurried away like a truant child, before the door was answered. The cool breeze sighed softly. There was nothing else. And no one else. 

Tum itna jo... reminded me of a Shelly poem we had in school: Our sweetest songs are those that tell of our saddest thoughts (I think it was Ode to a Skylark). The words make their way to the deepest corners of your heart and sit there, waiting patiently for you to take in the true essence of the song. With the fading strains of Woh Kaagaz ki Kashti, I was trying hard not to let a tear fall onto the keyboard of my father's laptop and spoil it. Childhood memories make me very emotional. I think I'm still trying to let the music sink in. 

So, this is an apology to Jagjit Singhji. Sorry for having ignored you and called you a man who always sang sad songs. I thought you were "that man who occasionally surfaced with a music video" that my father liked. I took you for granted. I'm sorry I dismissed your music so offhandedly. But now, I'm glad I didn't listen to your songs at an age when I couldn't appreciate what they meant and stood for. And now that I've begun to understand some nuances of your music, I curse myself for having let go of so many chances to see you perform live. 

Maybe I didn't deserve to. 



4 Aum said...

lovely... it's never too late... :) :) :)

Narayanan (Nada!!) said...

Interesting. I think over time you developed the taste for serendipitous music. I personally feel that at a younger age maybe this genre did not appeal to you mainly becuase of your general state of mind. Serenity in music is best appreciated when the mind is flooded with thoughts. I would say you could take it as a sign of maturity but there are others who may say it is because you have too many responsibilities on your head. Good tribute though

Kiran said...

Best Jagjit Singh Ghazal Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho watch here

SSD said...

@Pho Thank you.

@Nada I guess it could be both.

Pratham Dev said...

Welcome to the club , dost ! He was like a shelter in the rains for the stray dogs like us :)

Spring Coder said...

Nice post. Glad you have started liking Hindustani/Gazal Music. He was a giant. His voice had throw which could reach your heart and make it vibrate. Sadness as we lost him.

But I still hate Carnatic classical music. :P

Nirmitee Mehta said...

After reading this,I really want to start listening to some of his music too.
A 1993 kid, I've never been into ghazals either but hearing people rave about him has got me wanting to start :)