Rajen Garabadu is Chief Executive Producer - IBN18 Network.
I was introduced to ghazal early in life. Though I was six years old, I took to Jagjit Singh much more than any of my playmates in my age. The reason I came in contact so early was due to my eldest sister Babita. She has returned home after completing her schooling from MGD, Jaipur and she carried with her all the music she had accumulated in her school days.
A lot of music played at home through that summer of 80 and most of it has stayed with me even to this day. We had just moved to a new house, one that my father had taken six years to build. Though it was a spacious bungalow in a very quiet, residential area on the banks of the River Mahanadi, I missed the hustle and bustle of a joint-family existence which had till then been part of my life in our old family home, located in a more crowded part of Cuttack.
From a joint to a nuclear family, absolutely no sounds of horns blazing from cars, scooters or bikes and very little movement on the road in front of my house - this new life seemed very different to me. How will I sleep in such a quiet neighborhood? That seemed to me the moot question then. The brilliant Kamal Haasan film Pushpak hadn't released, therefore I couldn't use the idea of recording the traffic noise from my earlier neighborhood and playing it in the new one to help me sleep.
Suddenly, my life had turned topsy-turvy and I was not sure how to deal with it. It is here that Jagjit Singh helped me to get to terms with it. His ghazals helped me settle in our new home. The music added to the ambience - the silence of the surroundings and the flora and fauna inside and outside the house. The monsoon made it even better. When I sat on an armchair on the balcony and watched the rainfall on the neatly manicured grass in our front lawns, Jagjit Singh always played in the background. Slowly I found myself liking my new home and life. My lifestyle had changed at a tender age and I had found my peace with Jagjit Singh.
What drew me to Jagjit Singh? His voice - clear, fresh and most importantly - it sounded very good to my ear. Why did I take to ghazals at an early age? Actually, I didn't. I took to Jagjit Singh and he just happened to be singing ghazals. I am not sure I understood most of what he sang but it had an effect on me. It felt soothing to my ear and connected in some form to my heart. The rest didn't matter. Certainly the words didn't. Much later (perhaps more than a decade) did I actually discover the true meaning of the songs which I had enjoyed so very much as a child.
In those days, Jagjit Singh remained popular across all genres of society. The hardcore ghazal aficionados swore by Mehdi Hassan, Talat Mahmood and Ghulam Ali, they still respected Jagjit Singh. However, he greatly appealed to the converts who were new to ghazals and were being drawn to it because he made it so simple from the heavy aura attached to it. By bringing in the guitar, he increased the appeal quotient especially for youngsters. Besides the two categories listed above, he made the maximum impression on a third class (no pun intended) - those who don't care if it is a ghazal or any other - as long as it is music to their ears. I have always belonged to this category and am eternally grateful to Jagjit Singh.
As I grew up, Jagjit Singh didn't leave me. The period of adolescence is usually accompanied by a number of crushes or infatuations perceived at that age as love. My closest friends would use me as their ghost letter writer while serenading their beloved or trying to make an impression on a new girlfriend. At that age, what does one write except mush? Jagjit Singh came in handy. There were a bagful of lines one could use from his ghazals. I remember tweaking a particular one for a friend which hit bulls eye - , Kuch ne kaha yeh chaand hai. hum ne kaha chehra tera. Corny as it may sound, it worked. The lady blinked and love happened. All thanks to Jagjit Singh.
When I began my career in news television, all kinds of music and musicians had come into focus. A few years into my second job, one of my colleagues called to ask if I'd be interested in listening to Jagjit Singh in a concert over the weekend. When I reached Siri Fort Auditorium, I found he seemed to have a song for each occasion and every age group. I enjoyed almost every ghazal he sang that evening but when he sang Kal Chaudvin Ki Raat thi, I was mesmerized. That evening was special. I remember being extremely grateful to my friend and colleague for giving me an opportunity to watch the maestro perform in front of a Live audience. 13 years later, I still am.
Thank you Shyatto