The King of Ghazals, Jagjit Singh personified aesthetic bliss for lovers of the ghazal form. A gentleman and a connoisseur of poetry, Jagjit Singh had another side to him that remains hidden - an occasional actor.
Jagjit Singh, actor
Mumbai - 08 Feb 2016 18:05 IST
Updated : 09 Feb 2016 16:08 IST
There are many famous personalities who cannot be imagined as entities separate from their god-given talent. Fans have come to recognise these personalities for what they embody, rather than the humans they are. It is practically impossible to imagine Rajinikanth selling you a bus ticket, or Asrani teaching you the basics of acting and the Stanislavski method. Their work has endowed them with an aura that hides their human self. Jagjit Singh belongs to that elite class of rarefied souls. A singer par excellence, his soulful voice rang out from seedy bars in Delhi to high profile social parties in Bombay's Malabar Hills.
Considering his heyday from the 80s to the late 2000s, it is strange to learn that he began his career in the 60s. Lata Mangeshkar tells an anecdote about how the great composer Madan Mohan suggested Jagjit's name to her. In an interview, she says ' The first time I heard about Jagjit Singh, I was recording with Madan Mohan who told me, 'Ek Jagjit naam ka ladka aaya hai bahut achcha gaata hai.' When I heard his voice I was bowled over, but somehow Jagjitji's voice was not considered suitable for film heroes at that time.' In his first film as a singer, Basu Bhattacharya's Avishkaar, he joined his wife, Chitra Singh, to sing a legendary thumri, 'Babul mora naihar chooto jaaye'. Once sung by Kundan Lal Saigal and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, the controlled and pathos-laden timbre of Jagjit Singh adds a new dimension to the song.
But then, everyone knows about his songs. It is the other little tidbits of his personality that make it interesting. Like his love for puns and jokes, famously a part of every mehfil that he ever sang at. His defined taste and knowledge of poetry in Urdu and Hindi. These are facets that add depth and colour to the prismatic presence of Jagjit Singh. Of these, the most ignored one is his small role as Rajendra Kumar's friend in Aman (1967). Playing alongside Rajendra Kumar, Jagjit Singh makes an appearance in his original look as a turbaned Sikh. Ebullient, funny, and natural, this is a Jagjit Singh few people have seen. As one of the friends celebrating Rajendra Kumar's graduation, the singer comes across as one of the funniest people on screen. It makes one wonder if the singer would've done well to pursue a career in acting. Jagjit Singh was not the only worldly wise personality making an appearance in the film. Mathematician and philosopher, Sir Bertrand Russell, makes an appearance as Rajendra Kumar's mentor convincing him to return to India to work for his own people.
Jagjit Singh - Guest Appreance
What is common to Jagjit Singh and the British philosopher Bertrand Russell? Both played cameos in the 1967 Rajendra Kumar starrer 'Aman'. Sir Russell, a Nobel Prize winner, was then a world-renowned figure, while Jagjitji was a mere struggler trying to make his mark as a singer. Can you spot him in the video? #DidYouKnow #YaadonMeinJagjitPosted by Mobius Films on Friday, 9 October 2015
Those who know him declare Jagjit Singh to be one of the most vibrant people to be around. For them, his turn as an actor would hold no surprise. But for fans who have grown up listening to a voice that symbolised wisdom, longing, pathos, and love in equal turns, the sight of a naughty, funny Jagjit Singh goes down with a little difficulty. Gulzar, ever the poet, wrote about his old friend in a poem 'Ek bouchchar sa tha woh' (He was a fresh shower of rains). Like the cold, pleasant rains that change the scene on their arrival, there is more to Jagjit Singh than his fans can ever know.