Reading ‘Baat niklegi to phir’ is an inward journey strewn with melancholy

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I was never a Jagjit Singh fan. Even in the entire album of Mirza Ghalib, it was Gulzar saab who was my hero. Having read all the books by Sathya Saran, right from ’10 years with Guru Dutt – Abrar Alvi’s journey’, ‘Sun mere bandhu re – The musical world of SD Burman, I was intrigued by ‘Baat niklegi to phir’, but the very thought of reading a ghazal singer’s journey to fame, losing his son and then moving on with life didn’t stimulate the film buff in me.

Pyar ka pehla khat likhne mein waqt to lagta hai,
Naye parindon ko uddne mein waqt to lagta hai…

Tum itna jo muskura rahi ho was more of a reminder to revisit Mahesh Bhatt’s brilliant, ‘Arth’. ‘Yeh tera ghar yeh mera ghar’ never failed to reach out for that DVD of ‘Saath Saath’ and marvel at the simplicity of Faroque Shaikh and Deepti Naval. ‘Hoshwalon ko khabar kya’ was more of an Aamir Khan nostalgia when he was an effortless actor sans tag of perfectionist.

The only song that connected me to Jagjit Singh was ‘Koi yeh kaise bataaye’. Never before was an acoustic guitar used to such perfection in a ghazal. Like Jagjit Singh’s legendary talent, this book, too, remained unnoticed since its launch. Until an opportunity to interact with the author fuelled my curiosity and I finally ‘experienced’ this wonderful journey.

Woh pal ke jis mein mohabbat jawaan hoti hain,
Us ek pal ka tujhe intezaar hai ke naheen…

The best part about ‘Baat niklegi to phir’ is the blossoming of love between young Jagjit and the young married-with-kid Chitra. The ‘I will wait’ line defines the entire personality of the singer, who patiently waits for Chitra to be separated from her ex-husband Debu Dutta and supports her all throughout, even mentoring her as a ‘senior’ singer.

Hamaare hauslon ka ghar,
Hamaari himmaton ka ghar…

This endearing love story makes one wonder how simple people used to be back then. With passage of time, we seem to have lost that innocence and simplicity. We are living in times when a slightest provocation can spell doom for relationships, where we believe in ‘replacing’ things rather than ‘repairing’ them. The Jagjit-Chitra love story is about braving through troubled times, enduring each other’s idiosyncrasies, diverse cultural background, ways of dealing with loss, rather than giving up on each other.

Kabhi yun bhi to ho, dariyaa ka saahil ho,
Poore chaand ki raat ho…aur tum aao…

Their struggle is surely akin to any other talent seeking opportunity in Indian film industry, but the difference here is the genre of their art. They created their own platform for an ‘unusual’ genre of ghazals, which went on to become the signature ‘Jagjit Singh’ style. Lata Mangeshkar, in a way seems like a metaphor for Indian film industry here – a dream that remains elusive for a very long time and when it does come true, the maestro had entrenched his name in non-film sector as the ‘King of ghazals’.

Har waqt yehi hai gham,
Us waqt kahan thhe hum, kahan tum chale gaye…

Sathya Saran knows her readers very well. She knows they are anticipating the demise of Vivek aka Baboo, but she keeps building up the bond the father-son shared, to such extent that as reader, you end up relating with their story. Jagjit-Chitra’s loss is no longer their loss. By now, it becomes the reader’s loss. You no longer empathize with the couple, you start introspecting on your own life, asking yourself how many things we take for granted in our day-to-day lives. What if our world comes crashing down at the most unexpected moment? How well can we prepare ourselves to lose someone we love dearly? The answer, I guess, is – never.

Jaate jaate vo mujhe achchhi nishaani de gayaa,
Umr bhar dohraaoongaa aisi kahaani de gaya…

The bonding shared between Jagjit Singh and his musicians, sound recording artists, lyricists like Javed Akhtar and Gulzar saab have been well-documented and narrated in an engaging style. Sample this excerpt that describes the Jagjit-Gulzar collaboration for the classic television series, Mirza Ghalib, where Gulzar saab states:

The singing had to be straightforward. Ghalib was a poet, not a singer, so there was no place for complicated music taans. He would have recited the poetry, so I kept the music simple with a few varations. I never felt that this is Jagjit Singh composing for Mirza Ghalib, so I must display my musical virtuosity. No, it should be Ghalib. Jagjit Singh should become Ghalib and sing, only then will the poetry come forth. The result of this introspection on Jagjit’s part was that Gulzar went on record saying in high praise that, Mirza Ghalib is Jagjit beyond Jagjit.

The chapter goes on to narrate the bonding the duo shared:

The two creative men shared a deep understanding of each other’s work and genius. According to the poet, ‘Jagjit was younger, but he would scold me. He’d say, “Give me a sher that will touch my heart,” and I would respond with, “I try hard, but it does not reach your heart. Nishaana chook jaata hai.” The link between them remained strong.

Woh umr kar raha tha meri,
Mein saal apne badhaa raha tha…

The demise of Jagjit Singh precedes with one more death that comes as a rude shock for the reader, which I’d better leave for you to discover. The transformation of Jagjit after his son passes away in a way prepares ground for his own immortality. The generous nature of Jagjit, right from his struggling days makes him remain alive in the memories of people close to him and few strangers who barely knew him.

The biography chronicles not only the strengths of the singer, but also his weaknesses with utmost honesty, thanks to Chitra Singh, who doesn’t mince her words even while sharing their story. It’s the noble deeds and an illustrious career that spans decades of singing, composing and reinventing ghazals that keep Jagjit Singh alive – converting ‘non-Jagjit’ fans like me into devout Jagjit worshipper. Thanks Sathya Saran for writing and recommending this wonderful journey.

Having said that, I must admit that reading this biography wasn’t easy as it leaves you with a melancholy that lingers over the mind for days after reading it. Well, I could go on sharing nuggets from it but I’d better stop here because…

Baat niklegi to phir door talak jaaeygi,
Log be-wajah udaasi ka sabab poochenge…

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Reading ‘Baat niklegi to phir’ is an inward journey strewn with melancholy

  1. Hello Prakash,
    Your blog is such a refreshing take on films and books. Would you be open to reading a collection of short stories on travel, history and romance?
    I’m a part of a street team promoting this super septuagenarian author Sharat Kumar. he’s coming out with a collection of short stories called ‘The White Marble Burzi and Other Stories’. I’d love to hear your take on them.
    I can send a teaser of the book so you can see if the book is to your liking. Just ping me back at hritvick.dv.at.gmaildotcom

    Cheers and keep blogging,
    Hritvick

    Like

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