“mat pooch ke kya haal hai mera tere peeche // tu dekh ke kya rang tera mere aage…..”
“go haath ko jumbish nahi aakhon mae to dam hai // rehne do abhee saagar-o-meena mere aage….”
Do people remember all important events in their lives when they were, say 9-10 yr olds? Yes? No? May be? Who cares? I confess, I don’t! But relating events now after 2 decades, in this case, this is what would have happened.
Landline telephones and TV were still new phenomena. (I mention landline as we had not even heard of mobile phones). If your house did not have a TV, you wished for one. If your parents had bought one, you wished for a color TV. The few who had a color TV, wanted some “family time”. Half of your colony neighbors, including their maids and their semi finished domestic work could be found in your house, infront of your color TV.
The farthest flash back that I can go, the first funny yet gripping, light yet racy and simply irresistible serial that I remember is “Karamchand”. To me, Pankaj Kapoor is a legend. Those are the days when I was introduced to his body of legendary work. Kitty, played by Sushmita Mukherjee was equally remarkable and remembered till date. When news came that Pankaj Kapoor’s new serial will be on air soon, naturally the entire neighborhood was excited. The day the first episode was to be telecast; all were in attendance, lined up sitting in silence at least 10 minutes before the start time. Banjo played, violin played and then….. I was hypnotized. I was stoned. I was speechless, motionless and hopeless for a few scary moments. There came on screen, “Neem ka Ped”. There came Pankaj Kapoor’s name. There came….. I remember zilch. I was speechless as I didn’t know how to react, I was motionless as not only was it a crowded room with hardly any elbow space but also because this was unexpected and hopeless as I had no clue of what did the lines mean?
I guess, till the next 4-5 years of listening to “muh ki baat sunae har koi, dil ke dard ko jaane kaun….” I did not know the exact meaning of this casting song/ghazal, whatever it was, for Neem Ka Ped. May, I didn’t ask anyone, in fear, what if I didn’t like the meaning and hence stopped liking the voice! In fact, looking back now, I remember Pankaj Kapoor, I recollect “Neem ka Ped” only because of the voice which hit my ears. I would diligently watch the casting of episodes and then move onto other priorities in life at that time, making fun of my sister, poking my pet dog et all.
I remember my father mentioning something about it being a “ghazal” and some “Singh” being the singer. Was I interested? Was I supposed to be, at the age of below 10 years? I fear not. I did keep hearing this voice singing, “tumko dekha toh yeh khayaal aaya” and something like “….mera geet amar kar do” more than once. I think it was “Rangoli” and / or “Chitrahaar”. But the feel of “muh ki baat….” stuck on my mind. I don’t know, why? All I knew was, the moment I heard the voice, I felt light.
After a few years, while still in junior classes in residential school, a new second channel from Doordarshan was introduced. It was called “DD Metro”. Apparently, it was for metro cities only. (how we managed to watch it while not being in a metro city, but in a small hamlet off Mussoorie town, is a topic of a new write-up.) Some path breaking programs were aired on this channel, one being “Super-hit Muqabla”, a musical countdown program of top 10 or 20 songs of the week. One night, while the show was on and we were trying to peep for a glimpse of the TV through the crowd, I heard the same voice. I could not believe at first. How can he sing for a movie? The video had two very fresh faces -a smart young chap and a very bright smiled, pretty girl. I focused and heard consciously – “shaam se aankh mae name si hai, aaj phir aapki kami si hai”. It was the same voice and this time round I understood the meaning of the words, without asking anyone, the video helped comprehending. But what surprised me more was, I felt sad and yet, I felt light. He had made me a romantic.
I believe our real journey together began here. Jagjit Singh became my “guiding light” this very moment. I was spell bound by the feeling of “sad lightness” or “light sadness”. I don’t know how to put it, but Jagjit Singh gave me the meaning of “meaning beyond words”. He taught me to listen to what was not being said, read what was not written, understand what did not exist and look beyond what was visible. With Jagjit Singh’s voice travelling through my ears, I always felt light, in all senses. I felt lighter on my feet. I wasn’t flying, but I was floating. I felt lighter in my head. I was not intoxicated, but I felt “happy” even while listening to a sad song in his voice!
I am guessing, few (of the very few who are reading) have started thinking, how did I commit blasphemy and not mention “Mirza Ghalib” in a write up on Jagjit Singh?
Well, I have come to realize that a deadly combo, a heady mix of “desire, passion and access”; creates an “addiction”. And of these three, according to me, “access” makes all the difference. The more you desire for something and the less it becomes accessible to you, you tend to desire it more and become more passionate about it. Then, gradually, the more accessible it becomes, the more you get into habit. The more you get into habit, defines addiction. Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan, Jagmohan Singh and Sampooran Singh Kalra are my bar tenders of my cocktail of life.
Mirza gave birth to my desire to unravel the mysteries between the obviously stated and understated. Sampooran’s (Gulzar) passion to brew life into everything around – from the half burnt cigarette to the unreturned luggage and even the charred wood of yester night’s get together. Jagmohan (Jagjit Singh) became the bridge giving me access to this mesmerizing world of unrealistic pleasures of romance, death, life, lies and truth. If not for him, I am sure, even Mirza and Gulzar would have been as important to me as Stephen Hawking or Amartya Sen.
I remember him not as someone who was talented and a great artist with heavy, baritone, velvet smooth and honey dipped voice. I will remember him as someone who influenced my life without knowing what he was doing to me. He changed the way I think, the way I live.
To his talent and indescribable voice I can only think of my addiction, my heady mix and hum along,
“koi ummeed bar naheeN aatee // koi soorat nazar nahi aatee…”
“maut ka ek din mu'ayyan hai // neend kyon raat bhar nahi aatee?
[ mu'ayyan = definite ]
- ishQ (30th October 2011)