According to a new book, Ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh drew huge crowds in Pakistan during his maiden trip to the country in 1979 even as he remained under surveillance by a Pakistani intelligence official, who incidentally turned out to be a fan.
The incident finds mention in “Baat Niklegi Toh Phir – The Life and Music of Jagjit Singh”, authored by Sathya Saran and published by HarperCollins. “The political situation when we went (to Pakistan) was not very calm, we could sense a tension. When we landed we noticed a man getting into the aircraft and just standing there. We saw him again and again. He followed us out of the airport and we saw him again in the hotel. It was unnerving.
“The room bell rang. Jagjit opened the door, and he was outside. He entered. Jagjit asked him in Punjabi, ‘Are you following us?’,”.
Chitra recounts how the sleuth mentioned that he was a fan and “gestured that the room was bugged.”
“Explaining that he was from the Intelligence Department, he with utmost care, drew from inside his jacket a bottle wrapped in newspaper; he had brought alcohol as a gift since the hotel served none,” says Chitra, who had accompanied her husband on that tour.
The book further quotes Chitra saying that Pakistan had banned them from giving any performances, but they had accepted a private invitation from the Press Club, where they sang to a full house. The next day they visited Shankar Dayal Sharma’s residence, who was at that time Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, for a private concert and what followed was a flood of invitations for the duo to perform.
Sathya Saran’s “Baat Niklegi Toh Phir” gives insights into the life of Singh and the many roles that he played as a son, father, husband, brother, friend and above all a musician par excellence who changed the face of ghazal singing forever.
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