‘Ghazal king’ Jagjit Singh dies

Indian crooner revitalized ancient form for films

MUMBAI — Indian singer Jagjit Singh died Oct. 10 in Mumbai, India, following a brain hemorrhage last month. He was 70.

Singh’s crooning voice revitalized the dying art form of the ghazal — Urdu and Persian poetry set to music — in the early ’80s. Classically trained Jagjit Singh Dhiman came to Bombay, as Mumbai was known then, in search of work in films. Along with his wife, Chitra, he performed in concerts until she retired following the death of their son in 1990. The duo started out with their concerts in small venues and then as their popularity rose played in larger halls and released several albums including “Chiraag,” “Marasim” and the technologically advanced “Beyond Time.”

Singh composed music with distinct flavor for Bollywood, writing the scores for “Prem geet” (1981) and Mahesh Bhatt’s autobiographical “Arth” (1982). In films such as “Arth,” (“Jhuki jhuki si nazar”) to “Sarfarosh” (“Hoshwalon ko”) and “Prem geet” (“Hotho se chhoo lo tum”) his songs added a classic touch to the soundtrack.

Helmer Bhatt tweeted, “My film ‘Arth’ would not have touched the hearts of millions of people without the contribution of Jagjit Singh.”

Finding the Bollywood music scene rapidly changing, Singh stuck to his metier — singing ghazals — proving to be hugely popular in the entire Indian subcontinent. He continued to render the few Bollywood songs that came his way with his hallmark transparency.

In his later years he pushed for causes such as getting royalty for singers and lyricists when their music was played. Currently only composers get the money.

His last public performance was on Sept. 20 in Dehradun.

The Indian government bestowed the award of Padma Bhushan on him.

Survivors include his wife, Chitra.