It was a sunny morning on 15th August that we all were celebrating the 75th Independence Day. I got a message on one of the whatsapp groups declaring the sad demise of a playback singer of yesteryears, Jagjit Kaur. It was around a couple of years back, on 19th August 2019 that Khayyam passed away leaving behind his wife, Jagjit Kaur alone. The couple had lost their only son, Pradeep, who suffered a heart attack and succumbed to an untimely death in 2012.
The couple then formed a charitable trust in the memory of their son, donating all their wealth to the trust that helps budding singers and musicians in the film industry. It was a very good gesture and Khayyam would proudly tell in the interviews that they have not taken a single penny donation from anyone, the trust money is theirs in totality. That’s indeed an excellent initiative.
Let’s remember Jagjit Kaur by revisiting a few of her Hindi and non Hindi film songs.
When I started collecting information about Jagjit Kaur, I couldn’t get much on the internet. Then I asked our living encyclopaedia, Mr Arunkumar Deshmukh, who provided me with the relevant details. I thank him for the help. I also referred to a Marathi book based on old Hindi film songs.
Jagjit Kaur was born in an aristocratic wealthy Sikh family in Hoshiarpur. I couldn’t confirm her exact year of birth, but it would be sometime in the late 1920s or the early 1930s. On most sites, the year 1931 is mentioned, which makes her 90 years old. While her age was mentioned 93 at the time of death, so there’s a confusion! Her father, Shivsharan Singh Siddhu, was a politician and a lawyer. He motivated his daughter to follow her passion for singing. She took formal training in Indian classical music. Encouraged by her father, she also sang for Lahore radio. And what’s more, she recorded a private Punjabi song, perhaps her first ever song to be recorded,
O Pind Deya Lambardara / Numberdara – Jagjit Kaur (?1946)
As I don’t understand Punjabi, the only thing I can say is that it’s a very sweet composition. I couldn’t get the names of the composer and lyricist. What I could get is that the song is addressed to or talks about a zamindar in a village. The song of course has a Punjabi folk base.
It was in 1950 that young Jagjit Kaur sang her first film song. It was for a Punjabi film, Posti. It was a duet with Asha Bhosle composed by Sardul Kwatra.
Sun Ve Dupatia Satrangiya – Posti (1950) with Asha Bhosle / Sardul Kwatra
The film was perhaps Shyama’s first film as a lead actress. It was made under Kwatra productions, a joint venture of Kwatra brothers. It was Asha Bhosle’s first Punjabi film song. It was picturised on Shyama and if I’m correct, Manorama played her friend. A song with typical Punjabi flavour. Here’s the link for its video.
She came to Bombay (now Mumbai) to try her luck in Hindi films. According to composer K Datta, he heard her in a private function and offered her a duet with G M Durrani for the film Gumasta, which was released in 1951. It would be appropriate to add it,
Dil Nache Aur Gaye Jawani – Gumasta (1951) with G M Durrani / K Datta – Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
I won’t call it an appropriate song to start one’s career. Her contribution is limited to singing Anokhe bol after mukhda and each antara. And that highlights the fact that it was really difficult to get a good break even in those days. I mean if you sing such a song as your first, no one would notice you. Perhaps that’s what happened to Jagjit Kaur as well.
She sang her first solo after a gap of one year; none of her songs were released in 1952. The song and the film were unknown to me, unveiled only after Arunji helped me.
Mere Chanda Main Teri Chandani – Khoj (1953) / Nisar Bazmi – Hasrat Jaipuri
A good song. Her singing had all the qualities a playback singer should have in her voice. It was energetic, vibrant, open and quite lovable. It should be noted that her voice had a touch of her own style. But a typical nasal quality and a touch of vintage era is missing in this song. Do you agree?
And, she was just a few steps away from fame, success was just round the corner. Just one knock was needed. In the same year, 1953, her songs from Dil E Nadan were released and became very popular.
I’ll add a couple of songs,
Mohabbat Ki Dhun Beqaraaron Se Puchho – Dil E Nadan (1953) with Talat Mahmood & Sudha Malhotra / Ghulam Mohammad – Shakeel Badayuni
Peace Kanwal, Shyama and Talat Mahmood acted in the movie, which had great songs and Jagjit Kaur was popular for the songs. It’s a beautiful piano song, where it seems all are rehearsing the song or Talat is teaching it to the girls. Jagjit Kaur sings for the gorgeous Peace Kanwal, while Sudha Malhotra sings for beautiful Shyama. The song still maintains popularity.
Khamosh Zindagi Ko Ek Afsana Mil Gaya – Dil E Nadan (1953) / Ghulam Mohammad – Shakeel Badayuni
One of her popular songs. A good piano song, rendered in a typical vintage era style. Her expressions are very good and pronunciation is perfect.
It is said that during this period, some of her songs were re-recorded in another singer’s voice and her songs were not retained. ‘Bahar Aayi Khili Kaliyan’ from Alif Laila is said to be one of such songs. In the absence of any documentation, we can’t confirm such stories.
It was 1954 that destiny had some plans of its own. After the success of songs from Dil E Nadan, she must have received offers from various composers.
It was the same year when she met composer, Khayyam. There’s a story about their first meeting on the over bridge of Dadar railway station. It goes like this, Jagjit Kaur realised that someone was following her and she felt he would stalk her. Fortunately before she could raise an alarm, the man introduced himself as music director, Khayyam. It was just in the previous year, 1953, that Khayyam had got his first hit song, Sham E Gham Ki Qasam, and adapted the name Khayyam. Their love story slowly bloomed and they decided to marry. It is said to be one of the first inter communal marriages in the Hindi film industry. Jagjit Kaur was from an affluent family while Khayyam was yet a struggling music composer, so her father was not ready for the alliance. But still they married in 1954 much against the disapproval of her father.
It is said that Khayyam recorded her song for the movie, Dhobi Doctor (1954), but it wasn’t retained in the movie, on producer’s insistence. Khayyam wasn’t happy with the decision, but Jagjit Kaur persuaded him to accept the decision. I read it in a Marathi book called ‘कारवाॅं गुजर गया’ by Sunil Deshpande. Again can’t confirm this incident!
After marriage she took a break from playback singing and devoted herself to family responsibilities. It was in the 1960s that she made a comeback with the movie, Shola Aur Shabnam. She had three songs in the movie. I’ll add,
Pehle To Aankh Milana – Shola Aur Shabnam (1961) with Rafi / Khayyam – Kaifi Azmi
She was the main singer of the movie singing a couple of solos and a duet. While Ladi Re Ladi Tujhse Nain was there on one of my earlier lists, I decided to include the duet. In addition to excellent renditions by singers, the Ravanhatta pieces are enchanting. I think it’s not Sarangi.
It should be noted that Khayyam didn’t insist on her playback in each and every film he composed for. But offered her songs whenever he thought her voice suitable for a song.
In 1964, Jagjit Kaur sang a song which later became her identity. She is remembered for the song and vice versa.
For the movie, Shagoon (1964), she sang a couple of songs. As I like both the songs, I take the opportunity to add both.
Tum Apna Ranjo Gham – Shagoon (1964) / Khayyam – Sahir
I take it as her best known and the most popular song. The song offered her an identity for the lifetime. No doubt, it’s very dedicatedly sung with perfect expressions. Though the actress Nivedita is very beautiful, her face isn’t very expressive. The song perhaps expressed her own emotions towards her husband and she literally followed the song. She supported her husband in the good and bad. Khayyam always used to mention her contribution in his life and career.
Gori Sasural Chali – Shagoon (1964) with Chorus / Khayyam – Sahir
I think she holds a sort of record of singing wedding songs. This was the first in the series. Her slightly husky yet soothing voice enchants me no end in the song. The way she sings the words ‘डोली सज गई शगुनोंवाली‘, is unparalleled. One of my great favourites!
After the film, Shagoon, she sang a song or two for an obscure film. Let me add a romantic duet,
Nain Milake Pyar Jata Ke – Mera Bhai Mera Dushman (1967) with Rafi / Khayyam – ? Lyricist
A song picturised on Nalini Chonkar and Jaykumar, as per the comments on YouTube. The movie is obscure, the song is enjoyable. The onscreen couple is vivacious, her dancing is good. Jagjit Kaur’s voice resembles that of Geet Dutt.
Then she was away from playback singing for a few years, but was behind the curtains assisting Khayyam for his songs.
It was in 1970, a typical Punjabi folk song was coming her way. She sang Nache Ang Ve with Shamshad Begum for the film, Heer Ranjha, composed by Madan Mohan. While later her contribution as a playback singer was mostly restricted to Punjabi folk based Hindi film songs, she sang a romantic song, composed by Khayyam.
Jhukti Ghata Humse Kahe – Pyase Dil (1974) with Mahendra Kapoor / Khayyam – Jan Nissar Akhtar
I wasn’t aware of this romantic song. The film is obscure and so are the actors, but the song is good!
She worked as an assistant to Khayyam for Kabhi Kabhie in 1976. And also sang a song that runs during the opening credits. It’s interesting that she wasn’t credited for it in the titles. One of her popular wedding songs. It slowly became her forte to sing wedding songs with a touch of Punjabi folk to it. And undoubtedly such songs suited her voice and style of singing. Though the song mainly focuses on Lata’s part, the Punjabi part sung by Jagjit Kaur and Pamela Chopra adds a charm to it. Here’s the song,
Surkh Jode Ki Yeh Jamagahat – Kabhi Kabhie (1976) with Lata Mangeshkar & Pamela Chopra / Khayyam – Sahir
Now, we are in the last part of the post, where I would post some of her songs from the 80s. Most of her songs could be categorised as wedding or bidai songs. I decided to include a couple from the category leaving behind the one from Razia Sultan. She also sang a Mujra with Pamela Chopra for the film, Sawaal. There were a few more songs to consider, but to limit the number of songs, I am mentioning just a few.
Kahe Ko Byahe Bides – Umrao Jaan (1981) with Chorus / Khayyam – Shahryar
What a heart touching rendition! It’s again a credits song. Jagjit Kaur sings with expertise and makes me remember that someday I will also experience the pain of my daughter’s बिदाई.
Dekh Lo Aaj Humko – Bazaar (1982) / Khayyam – Mirza Shauk
The song is picturised on Faruque Shaikh and Supriya Pathak, as the latter bids farewell after her marriage. They are separated forever. The song has great lyrics and the pain in Jagjit Kaur’s voice is inimitable. The song runs in the background, but it’s apt for the situation. Here’s the link for the video.
Kab Yaad Mein Tera Saath Nahi – Anjuman (1986) with Khayyam / Khayyam – Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Khayyam had sung a couple of songs in the late 40s for Husnalal Bhagatram and himself. After a big gap, he again sang for himself, this time with his wife. The song is a little bit longer, but good to listen to. The lyrics are wonderful, so is the tune and singing.
I’ll end my tribute with the song. Though her songs are very few in number as compared to her contemporary leading playback singers, most of her songs are memorable.
Please add your favourites to the list.
Mehfil Mein Meri, claims no credit for any image, screenshots or songs posted on this site. Images on this blog are posted to make the text interesting. The images and screenshots are the copyright of their original owners. The song links are shared from YouTube, only for the listening convenience of music lovers. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners, producers and music companies.