8 years have passed since Jagjit Saab left us .You have been making valiant efforts to keep his memory alive…
Well, I am trying.I would think younger generations would respond to his music as enthusiastically as the previous generations. When we organized a concert in his memory on October 10 the Nehru auditorium was overflowing with young people. There were people standing and watching. Most of them were young.Many had to be turned away. Jagjitji always had a huge range of listeners from 2-year olds to 82-year olds. I am very optimistic about Jagjit Saab’s music carrying in. He is the only contemporary musician who has kept pure music alive. That cannot die.
Do you see the spark in any other singer to carry Jagjit Singh’s legacy forward?
I haven’t heard it in anyone else. But I am sure there is someone who comes close to Jagjit’s standards of excellence. It doesn’t have to be in the style of Jagjitji. But it could be in the same league of excellence. But I don’t see it coming from anyone. Because Jagjitji’s excellence as a musician had a lot to do with the kind of person that he was.He wasn’t just a one-man musical institution. He was also an exceptional human being. The music came from his soul.And that voice…it’s like a call from divinity. To have that again is a tall order.
You stopped singing after your son’s death. Did you never contemplate a return to singing?
Some people have put that idea in my head.But all said and done I haven’t sung for 33 years. The riyaazthe discipline the hours that need to be put in…wohsab mere paas nahin hai. The voice is a very delicate mechanism.After what I went through my life changed completely.I can’t even dream of singing today. I’ve suffered one tragedy after another.Everything that was precious was snatched away from me. I am just an empty shell walking around. I am going through all the motions of living. But there is no soul left in me. Even then, in spite of tragedies(loss of son and then daughter’s suicide) I was somehow coping. I gave up singing. Life went on because Jagjitji was with me. But then after he left life is finished.
His memory keeps you going?
I don’t treat him like a memory. It’s as though he is still with me I am not talking about only his musical legacy. I am talking about his entire personality. His vibrations and energy are around me all the time. I have to remind myself he is no longer with my physically.
Do you stay alone after Jagjit Saab’s death?
Well…..Jagjitji and I lived at Breach Candy together for 42 years.When my daughter passed away we moved to Bandra to be with our two grandchildren whom my daughter left behind.Since then we were there. But after Jagjitji passed away I felt a tremendous pull back to Breach Candy.So I went back.
And you are there now?
No. I couldn’t stay there without Jagjitji. That house is so lonely now. Our Breach Candy home was purposely secluded from all traffic . Now with him gone it has become like a tomb.All the energy is gone.Every single day I was commuting between Breach Candy and Bandra.I would sleep in Breach Candy and my grandchildren pulled me back to Bandra in the morning. I couldn’t keep up with this routine.So I’ve shifted back to Bandra.I live with my son-in-law and grandchildren.
It must be a huge solace to have your grandchildren with you?
They don’t sit with me holding my hand. But their presence is invaluable.I know mere liye koi hai.
How do you find the strength to go on?
I really don’t know! I don’t know where I find the strength to carry on from day to day.I have been blessed with an inner strength.That helps me to carry on.Also I know that I have the mission of carrying on Jagjitji’s legacy.As long as I am on this earth I’ll continue doing so.And in the two years since his death I’ve done nothing yet. There is so much more to do.
What are your plans to perpetuate Jagjit Saab’s memory?
Well, he had a dream. Which I am trying to fulfil. He wanted to start a music academy where talented youngsters could be trained to take over as future stalwarts. His dream didn’t materialize in his lifetime. I want to make sure it happen in my lifetime. I don’t know if I will be able to fulfil his dream. His legacy is awesome . There is also a foundation in his name which takes care of the needy, medically and in any other way possible. There’s a lot of work to be done.I don’t know how much of it I can carry out.
How much support have you received from Jagjit Saab’s friends?
(hesitates in answering) Well….so far not too many have come forward. To comment on this would not be gracious. I am hoping more and more people would join hands with me.
Shaayad Jagjit Saab ke liye pyaar unke saath his chala gaya?
Nahin nahin unke liye pyar hai. I don’t agree with that. When we had a programme in his memory on his second death anniversary the response was overwhelming. I don’t think any other artiste in any part of the world would enjoy this kind of love and adulation after death.It’s mindblowing. But then that’s the love of the general masses.As far as joining hands with me to carry his legacy forward is concerned I haven’t seen the same support coming.
Do you find yourself isolated in your endeavour to carry Jagjit Saab’s name forward?
You know, for 42 years I was sheltered and protected from all exposure to the outside world by my husband.I wasn’t in touch with the music industry, market trends…nothing!Now I think some of Jagjitji’s friends are apprehensive about communicating with me.
Why is that?
I’ve always had the reputation of being a very private person. They hesitate to come to me.Jagjitji’s friends have either not known me or those who know me, have not taken kindly to me.Maybe they think I am hoity-toity.I hope dheere-dheere this impression wears off and people who loved Jagjitji would come forward to help me carry his legacy forward.
What advice do you give to those who have to cope with an avalanche of adversities?
I don’t know if I am equipped to give advice. But my way of coping was to do what came honestly to me. I am answerable only to myself. I don’t believe in oopar jaake hisaab dena padega. Saara hisaab idhar hi hai.Baqi logon ko hisaab do na na do. You have to look straight into your own eyes.And that’s why I will never return to singing.The opinion of others is secondary.I have to feel I am as equipped to sing now as I was when I quit.And I know that isn’t possible.Life for has taken an about-turn.