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It was a full house as Sydney-based musician Avijit Sarkar hosted Pyar ka pehla khat, a homage to the king of ghazal Jagjit Singh
India lost Jagjit Singh on 10 October 2011, and since then, Avijit Sarkar has hosted concerts annually to commemorate not only Jagjit Singh’s eternal music but also his deep influence in his own life.
“I met Jagjitji eight years ago here in Sydney,” Avijit said on the occasion, recalling the times he spent with the legend after his splendid concerts in Sydney. “Not only was he an extraordinary musician and artiste, he was a great human being too. He was captivating and hilarious on-stage as well as off it.”
Avijit has performed in over 1700 live concerts around the world in a career spanning over 35 years, accompanying legendary singers like Ghulam Ali, Abida Parveen, Anup Jalota, Manhar Udhas and Munni Begum, and was associated with All India Radio and Doordarshan in India.
He also founded the Natraj Academy which brings together various forms of performing arts and fine arts all under one roof for music and art lovers in Sydney.
But it is Jagjit Singh that seems to hold that special spot in Avijit’s heart, and not just because his own soulful style of singing resembles that of the maestro.
“Ghazals are driven by poetry and my love for poetry has always drawn me towards Jagjit Singh’s music.”
Yet Jagjit’s versatility has also been inspirational.
“His music is diverse, ranging from devotional songs to semi-classical to film songs. His music definitely has deeply influenced and inspired my own compositions.”
Awarded one of India’s highest civilian honours, the Padma Bhushan, by the Government of India in 2003, Jagjit Singh sang in numerous Indian languages, and his music reached out to audiences across the globe.
The ghazal is a poetic art form originating in 6th century Arabic verse, and Jagjit Singh is credited for single-handedly reviving it by making it more mainstream, composing them in a way that is ‘bol pradhan’, with emphasis on the meaning of words and melodies induced by them.
“Jagjitji modernised the ghazal form to adapt it to the evolving tastes of the global audience,” Avijit explained. “He chose simple poetry and set it to simple tunes and added western instruments like the guitar to make them livelier.”
From the widely acclaimed and moving Baat niklegi to to the poignant Tum itna jo muskara rahe ho, Avijit rendered most of Jagjit Singh’s well known ghazals in his tribute
A delightful addition was vocalist Srijani Dan, rendering Chitra Singh’s ghazals including Main zinda hoon abhi and other Jagjit-Chitra duets with Avijit. With Abhijit Dan on the tabla, Sadiq Rehmani playing the guitar, Parag Tijoriwala and Sanjeev Raja rendering sound effects, the evening was a mesmerising tribute to the ghazal stalwart.