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Interviews |  18 Apr 2009 12:13 |  By chiragsutar

Jagjit Singh - "Radio jockeys and programming folks don't have any taste for ghazals"

Of late, ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh has remained inaccessible to the media. Perhaps, the only time he comes out into the open for an interview is for the promotion of his latest album – just like many actors/ celebrities do these days (a fact he openly admits in the interview). It seems the man has a certain aversion for the media and believes that media organizations only scout for sensationalism.

In an interview with's Chirag Sutar, Jagjit Singh patiently answers questions relating to his recently released romantic album Intehaa, but at the same time tries to duck questions intelligently. Read on, as the brutally honest musician speaks on his dissatisfaction with radio, film music and ideology of music labels.

Unlike your earlier albums, which focused more on the philosophical, Intehaa is more on the romantic side…

Isme Romantic kya, isme sab mixed emotions hai – isme romantic hai , philosophical hai, social hai, satire hai – so every color is there.

This album also has social ghazals a new concept can you tell me more about that?

We don't sing social problems – implication and interpretation of the poetry is done in that way nobody writes social ghazals.

For instance, Jaise Isme Khoob Milegi Hum Dono Mein Mere Jaisa Koi Nahin And Thoda Jhoota Main Bhi Thehrra Thoda Jotha Tub Hi Hai can be social as well as  political.

Are all the ghazals in this album contemporary in nature?

My treatment is always like that. This has been so from the very beginning. I always use contemporary sounds and arrangements. However, the poets have been recording for  the first time with me – they have never recorded a ghazal. They are very new.

As far as the sound goes, everybody uses modern technology today, lekin mein usko loudly use nahin karta, shor nahi macchata (I don't use it loudly)...

Can I say you have stuck to your original sound?

Yes, totally  I use acoustic more. I don't use synthesizers. I used it for a few tracks but ultimately I stuck with the acoustic instruments – live musicians and acoustic instruments.

All the ghazals on this album have a video … can you tell me more?

I suggested that – instead of making one video and spending Rs one to Rs 1.2 million, they shoot every ghazal on me and also add a little bit of character in that (video), but mostly it's shot on me while singing on various locations. We have shot all the eight ghazals and we are making a separate DVD for that.

Was it your idea to come up with the video?

Yes, my idea only. Nobody else's idea – I do what I like.

What struck you about the concept of having multiple videos?

It's better because times have changed. People today 'watch' music, they don't 'listen' to music. FM stations, on the other hand don't play ghazals. People only �listen' to music only when they travel by car.

So, when you are at home you want to watch something nice, something different,   and something which you can watch with your family. My videos are fit for that.

Do you think in the current scenario, music labels are supportive of ghazals?

They will support anything which sells. They don't have a mind of their own. If the album does not sell, they will stop making the album.

Where do you see ghazals going 10 years from now?

Ghazal music will come back because the kind of poetry which exists now won't stand for long. Today's poetry is tapori songs – they don't make anything, they just play with words and every song whether it's a happy song or a sad song, is based on dance rhythm – this won't do – people are fed up with this. Listeners want something sensible, something soothing…

Is 'contemporising' the only way to reach to the masses?

You see, if you want to reach to a younger audience, you have to talk to them in a language they understand – the old sound won't do, they listen to western music. So, if we use the same sound, they will definitely be attracted. I contemporise because I have always lived with the time.

How are you promoting the album?

I am performing in around 16 cities in Canada and USA – I'll be promoting this album in all the cities.

Would you also be performing in India to promote?

Let me come back. I'll do it.

Do you think including ghazals in films is the only way to popularise it?

(ducks the question) Anything pleasant to the ears will be successful and good poetry will be successful, along with good arrangement, good singing.

Are you considering composing for films?

My consideration doesn't work. I can consider anything provided I get the films. If somebody is offering me (films) then I will think whether I should do it or not.

Radio does not play ghazals, did you ever think of raising this issue with FM players?

I always raise this issue with FM radio stations whenever I go for interviews on air. Sometimes,  I even refuse interviews because they are not doing anything for the music I represent. So it doesn't make any sense going for an interview . I raise this issue with every FM player but it falls on deaf ears. Radio stations in small town do play ghazals, but those present in the metropolitan cities like Mumbai, unka nakhra zyaada hai. Mumbai radio is totally westernised - woh apne apko angrez samajhte hai. Stations in cities like Delhi and Lucknow always play my ghazals.

Radio industry experts reason this out by saying private FM channels are dedicated only to music that appeals to masses and that ghazal is not mass. How would you answer that?

This is an excuse not to play. How do they consider that ghazal is not mass?  10-15 years ago, ghazal was popular music, what happened to the â€?mass' criteria at that time? The real reason is that they don't have any kind of taste for this kind of music.

The people behind the desks, the radio jockeys, and the programming guys don't have any culture backgrounds, their upbringing is different – they don't have any taste for ghazals – that is the main issue.

With the music business dynamics changing so rapidly (marketing, promotions), does this affect music?

These are desperate measures to sell music because of piracy factor – music is not selling, so the company is doing every effort to sell it. I am giving my interview to you because I want to promote my album, we have never spoken before, have we? 

Ghazal singers are gradually moving to performing live, why don't they come with albums more frequently?

What is wrong with performing live? In film music, the singers don't even sing, they use backing track and lip sync, at least ghazal singers are honest when singing live.

Ghazal performers have always been performing live, I perform one or two concerts every month – whether you make albums or not, live concerts should continue because people want to listen to ghazals, they want to attend good concerts and they want to go with families, so they will always prefer a ghazal concert rather than going to a filmi program  

What are your forthcoming projects?

I will think about forthcoming projects after two months… after I am back from the US, I will think about it.

I read you would also be promoting the album in tele-serial Banoo mein teri dulhan, is it true?

I am not a director in that serial. I am participating in it to promote the album.