The day ghazals died

Even before Jagjit Singh came along, ghazal maestros like Begum Akhtar, Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali were lauded, but ghazal as an art form largely remained behind the lofty doors of mehfils of the elite and was accessible to only those who possessed a finer sense of music, or could afford it. Besides, ghazals were based on classical ragas, which didn't really cater to everyone's taste.

And then came along Singh, the man with the velvet voice. He can be solely credited with bringing ghazal to the level of a common man in India. His ghazals accommodated themselves to be equally enjoyed by a someone who wanted to relax after a hard day's work or by a young college student mourning over a break-up with his girlfriend. And thus ghazals found further acceptance, especially in Hindi films.

Armed with great passion and that mesmerising voice, Jagjit was one of the first non-mainstream singers to have managed to break into the tight coterie of Bollywood background singers, albeit after much struggle. He had once even given up on his dream of making it big in Bollywood. He had run out of money and had gone back to his hometown ticketless.

But then his ambition wouldn't let him rest and he came back to Mumbai, only this time not to return again empty-handed. This Padma Bhushan awardee went on to release over sixty film and non-film albums, each more successful than the other. He along with wife Chitra have easily given some of the best romantic duets to the Indian ghazal firmament, until Chitra stopped singing after the untimely tragic demise of their son, Vivek. Those who knew him say Singh was a broken man after the incident, but he never let that show in his songs. His songs and his voice went on uplifting spirits and will continue to do so.

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