The Voice From… Beyond/ Jagjit Singh
Universal Music/ Rs 250 for CD, Rs 84 on iTunes
GHAZAL maestro Jagjit Singh’s death on October 10, 2011, came as a huge shock to fans across the globe. Besides possessing one of the most soulful voices in Indian music, he had played a leading role in popularising the ghazal among the masses, using simpler and more accessible lyrics, and adding modern instrumental arrangements.
After his demise, a few albums were released in his memory. First, T-Series came out with ‘Alvida: The Final Journey’, a compilation of his later songs. Last year, Sony Music released ‘The Master & His Magic’, which contained nine rare compositions from the private collection of his fan and admirer Sanjay Tayal. Now, Universal Music has released ‘The Voice From… Beyond’, featuring seven previously unreleased ghazals, chosen by his wife Chitra Singh. An added attraction is a selection of some rare photo postcards of the genius, which fans can treasure.
For any Jagjit admirer, this collection is a gold mine. Each number here bears the Jagjit stamp. The quality of poetry, a crucial factor which defines the beauty of a ghazal, is first-rate, using only one traditional writer (Daagh Dehlvi) and focusing on the work of those who were prolific after the 1970s.
As these ghazals were recorded in different phases of Jagjit’s career, one finds on close listening a slight difference in his vocal texture on each song. What really lends strength to this album is the pure quality of the songs.
Two of the gems are in ‘chhoti behr’ (short meter), and their words are deserved to be published in their entirety. The first ‘Ek tere qareeb aane se’, credited to an unknown poet, goes:
Ek tere qareeb aane se, door hum ho gaye zamaane se
Jaane kyon bijliyon ko ranjish hai, sirf mere hi aashiyaane se
Aag dil ki sulaghti rehne do, aur bhadkegi yeh bujhaane se
Ishq hi ek raaz hai aisa, faash hota hai jo chupaane se
The second one, a live rendition of a song rendered by Noorjehan, Farida Khanum and Reshma, has the lines:
Aashiyaane ki baat karte ho, kis zamaane ki baat karte ho?
Saari duniya ke ranjh-o-gham dekar, muskuraane ki baat karte ho
Haadsaa tha guzar gaya hoga, kiske jaane ki baat karte ho
Hum ko apni khabar nahin kuchh bhi, tum zamaane ki baat karte ho
Humne apnon se zakhm khaaye hain, tum toh gairon ki baat karte ho
Aashiyaane ki baat karte ho, dil jalaane ki baat karte ho
Though the song has been credited to poet Nasir Kazmi, some have attributed it to Javed Qureshi,
The other songs have their own charm. Jagjit’s voice sounds divine on the lower notes of Nida Fazli’s ‘Dhadkan dhadkan dhadak raha hai bas ik tero naam’. While the guitars and violins are marvellously played, the lines “Jamuna-ji ke tat par goonje tere naam ki murali, Ganga-ji mein jhalak raha hai bas ik tero naam” lend a spiritual, bhajan-like feel.
Poet Shahryar excels on ‘Zindagi jaisi tamanna thi’, where he writes: “Ab jidhar dekhiye lagta hai ke is duniya mein, kahin kuch cheez jyaada hai, kahin kuch kam hai”.
Daagh Dehlvi’s ‘Rasm-e-ulfat sikha gaya koi’ has been rendered charmingly, and it’s worth checking out Jagjit’s expression on the lines “Dil ki duniya udaas si kyon hai. Kya yahaan se chala gaya koi”. Here, Jagjit changes some of the original poetry’s complex words into simpler ones while retaining the meter. The rabab gives this song a rustic feel. On ‘Dard halka hai’, composed and arranged by Deepak Pandit, Gulzar’s lines “Aapke baad har ghadi humne, aapke saath hi guzaari hai” have been sung with pathos.
Despite its somewhat raw live recording, probably done at an indoor ‘mehfil’, Sayeed Rahi’s ‘Khuda ke vaaste apna hisaab’ is an absolute beauty, with Jagjit showing traces of the Mehdi Hassan style. The lines “Khuda ke vaaste apna hisaab rehne do, subah talak mere aage sharaab rehne do” are sung with a hint of intoxication that makes it amazing, and the use of harmonium, tabla and guitar are outstanding.
The best thing about ‘A Voice From… Beyond’ is that it’s very reminiscent of the vintage Jagjit Singh of the 1980s. It’s a must for all his admirers, and one hopes more such unreleased gems are released at regular intervals.
RATING SCALE: * Poor; ** Average; *** Good; **** Excellent; ***** Simply outstanding
See also: ‘Remembering Jagjit Singh’, posted in the section ‘Ghazals’ on November 30, 2011