Ten years after he passed away on October 10, 2011, Jagjit Singh’s songs continue to live on. He also made remarkable contributions to film music and devotional music. Narendra Kusnur handpicks 10 Jagjit Singh films songs that are beyond compare.
Ten years after he passed away on October 10, 2011, Jagjit Singh’s songs continue to live on. And while he was at the forefront of the 1980s ghazal wave, teaming up with wife Chitra, he also made remarkable contributions to film music and devotional music. His rich voice had its own identity, its own personality, its own way of attracting listeners.
To mark Jagjit’s 10th death anniversary, we opted for his film songs. While some of these are hits known to the public at large, we also chose some that possibly didn’t get the attention and success they deserved. The diehard fans may, of course, be familiar with them.
Though Jagjit and Chitra were first heard on ‘Babul Mora’ in the 1974 film Avishkaar, it was in the 1980s that he became regular. The list is in chronological order, and there’s also a good representation of songs from the late 1990s and early 2000s.
1 Honton Se Choo Lo Tum – Prem Geet (1981)
Indeevar wrote the classic lines “Honton se choo lo tum, mera geet amar kar do, ban jaao meet mere, meri preet amar kar do”. Jagjit composed and sang the song, filmed on Raj Babbar and Anita Raj at a party. The song was a regular feature at Jagjit’s concerts, and the line “paayal chhankati tum aa jao jeevan mein” attracted huge applause.
2 Pyaar Mujhse Jo Kiya Tumne – Saath Saath (1982)
Kuldeep Singh composed the music and Jagjit sang for Farooque Shaikh, with Deepti Naval in the audience. Javed Akhtar wrote, “Pyaar mujhse jo kiya tumne toh kya paaogi, mere haalaat ki aandhi mein bikhar jaaogi”. The film also had the Jagjit-Chitra Singh hits ‘Tumko Dekha Toh Yeh Khayal Aaya’ and ‘Yeh Tera Ghar Yeh Mera Ghar’.
3 Jhuki Jhuki Si Nazar – Arth (1982)
The expressions of Raj Kiran and Shabana Azmi were unforgettable, with Jagjit composing and singing Kaifi Azmi’s lines, “Jhuki jhuki si nazar beqarar hai ke nahin, dabaa dabaa sa sahi, dil mein pyaar hai ke nahin”. Jagjit had other great songs like ‘Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho’, ‘Koi Kaise Yeh Bataaye’ and ‘Tere Khushboo Mein Basey’ in the film.
4 Yeh Faasle – Mammo (1994)
Composed by the brilliant Vanraj Bhatia, this was one of the three songs Jagjit sang in Shyam Benegal’s film. Gulzar wrote the lines, “Yeh faasle teri galiyon ke humse taye na hue, hazaar baar ruke hum hazaar baar chale”. It featured the young boy Riyaz, played by Amit Phalke.
5. Chitthi Na Koi Sandesh – Dushman (1998)
An emotional song with Jagjit at his expressive best. Music was by Uttam Singh, and Anand Bakshi wrote, “Chitthi na koi sandesh, jaane woh kaunsa desh jahaan tum chale gaye, is dil pe laga ke thes, jaane woh kaunsa desh, jahaan tum chale gaye”. Another version was sung by Lata Mangeshkar.
6 Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya – Sarfarosh (1999)
It began with Naseeruddin Shah singing at a concert, and moved on to the meeting of Sonali Bendre and Aamir Khan. Music was by Jatin-Lalit who were in good form in the 1990s. Jagjit sang Nida Fazli’s lines, “Hoshwalon ko khabar kya bekhudi kya cheez hai, ishq keeje phir samjhiye zindagi kya cheez hai”.
7 Kiska Chehra – Tarkieb (2000)
A wonderful duet by Jagjit and Alka Yagnik, it was picturised outdoors on Milind Soman and Tabu. Aadesh Shrivastava gave the music, and Nida Fazli wrote the romantic lines, “Meri aankhon ne chuna hai tumko duniya dekhkar, kiska chehra ab main dekhoon tera chehra dekhkar”. The song had a nice lilt.
8 Koi Fariyaad – Tum Bin (2001)
Despite being over eight minutes long, this has remained one of Jagjit’s most popular film ghazals. Filmed on Priyanshu Chatterjee and Sandali Sinha, it was written by Faaiz Anwaar. The opening lines were, “Koi fariyaad tere dil mein dabee ho jaise, tu ne aankhon mein koi baat kahee ho jaise”. Composers Nikhil-Vinay used an electronica base, with drum machines, but the interludes had lovely saxophone and violin solos.
9 Haath Choote Toh – Pinjar (2002)
At times, songs from Jagjit’s albums were used in films. His famous ‘Woh Kaagaz Ki Kashti’, written by Sudarshan Faakir, was used in the Kumar Gaurav movie Aaj. Likewise, ‘Haath Choote Toh’ was from the Jagjit-Gulzar album Marasim. In Pinjar, music director Uttam Singh created a new arrangement, and Jagjit adapted his presentation. Filmed on Urmila Matondkar, it began with Gulzar’s lines, “Haath choote bhi toh rishte nahin chhoda karte, waqt ki shaakh se lamhe nahin toda karte”. Preeti Uttam sang a brief part.
10 Dhuan Utha Hai – Leela (2004)
The Vinod Khanna-Dimple Kapadia film Leela had Jagjit’s outstanding ‘Jaag Ke Kaati Saari Raina’, featured last week in the Vinod special. ‘Dhuan Utha Hai’ was relatively under-rated but lyricist Gulzar was marvellous on lines like “Dhuan utha hai kahin aag jal rahi hogi, aseer roshni baahar nikal rahi hogi”. Jagjit composed and sang the ghazal.
Of these songs, three were composed by Jagjit himself, whereas the one from Pinjar was a re-arrangement of his tune in a different manner. And though Jagjit composed a lot of his non-film ghazals himself, one must credit his ability to work with different music directors in films.
Film music was only one part of his repertoire. In the latter stage of his career, he released many devotional songs. But ghazals remained his forte, whether it was on early albums with Chitra, the album Sajda with Lata Mangeshkar, the Ghalib project with Gulzar or the numerous solo gems he released.