Tuesday, July 21, 2009

THE GHAZAL KING – Jagjit Singh

Jagjit Singh is one of the most famous Ghazal singers of the modern times. In an era where the current generation is headed towards rock and hip hop music, it is refreshing to see them cherish Jagjit Singh ghazals as well. Born in Ganganagar located in Rajasthan on 8th February, 1941, the name Jagjit means the one who triumphs over the world. His father Sardar Amar Singh Dhiman was a Government official and his mother Sardarni Bachchan Kaur had a religious family background. He has four sisters and two brothers and is fondly addressed as "Jeet" by his family. Jagjit Singh studied at Khalsa High School located in Ganganagar. After completing his matriculation, he took up science. He graduated in Arts from DAV College located in Jalandhar and has a post graduate degree in history from Kurukshetra University, Haryana. His father wanted him to join the Indian Administrative Services. But when he saw his son achieving accolades in the world of music, he was more than happy. Jagjit learnt classical music under Pundit Chaganlal Sharma and achieved expertise in classical forms like Khayal, Thumri and Dhrupad. He moved to Bombay in the year 1965 searching for better luck in the field of music. Any budding artist faces initial struggles and tribulations before finally making an indelible mark in the industry. He got assignments that were limited to performing at wedding functions and singing jingles for advertisements. Around 1970's, the world of ghazals was dominated by renowned names like Noor Jehan, Malika Pukhraj, Begum Akhtar, Talat Mahmood and Mehdi Hassan. Jagjit Singh made the efforts to come with his first album titled "The Unforgettables", which was a collection of semi-classical Indian music. The different melody and freshness in Jagjit's voice appealed to all and he was recognized by the industry. Though he was scorned by many critics, it did not deter him from carving a nice for himself. The album sold numerous copies and was a hit with listeners. While Jagjit Singh was still doing jingles for advertisements during the initial years, he met another singer named Chitra. Chitra Singh (Shome) then, was born in Calcutta in a musical family where her mother was a trained vocalist. While she was a witness and a follower of the musical lessons at home, She has not learned the intricacies of the classical music through the “tayyari” way. She claims to be and is a vocalist by the ear, though in her later years she learned from people like K. Mahavir, Mohinderjeet & Jagjit Singh himself whose style she absorbed and a fantastic fusion was born.
Chitra Singh had married very early and this child bride was a mother before she stopped being a child herself. She married Mr. Datta and on a transferable job landed in Bombay. Mr. Datta ran a sound recording studio from his home where they stayed, he recorded jingles there then and shortly Chitra Datta became the undisputed jingle queen of the town. Among other people she met Jagjit Singh around this time and did some odd jingle together.
They got married after a two year long courtship in the year 1969. Together, they exemplified the first successful husband-wife singing team. They both produced numerous soulful and melodic Ghazals which were enjoyed by a wider audience. Some of the popular albums of the couple were Ecstasies, A Sound Affair and Passions. During the early 90's, they released an album named Beyond Time, which was an experimentation with different sounds and music. It conveyed a feeling that was beyond space and time and logical explanation. Sadly, around this time, their only son Vivek met with an accident and died at the young age of twenty one. It was a huge jolt for the couple and also all their fans and well wishers all over the world. After the album "Someone Somewhere", Chitra quit singing. The songs are emotionally very powerful and moving since they connect with the personal loss of the couple. However, Jagjit Singh continued to sing and his songs have only gained more popularity with each passing day. His later albums named Hope, In Search, Insight, Mirage, Visions, Kahkashan (Galaxy), Love Is Blind, Chirag (Lamp), etc. have made him the top Ghazal singer in the country and a favorite among fans. An album with Lata Mangeshkar named "Sajda" (Offering) was a hit and sold innumerable copies. It was a classic Ghazal album. Jagjit Singh did not limit himself to just Hindi songs and has also sung many Punjabi songs. His bubbly and vibrant Punjabi songs are very popular and are very pleasant to hear. Jagjit Singh has also sung many songs for Hindi movies. Popular films include Arth, Saath Saath, Premgeet, Tum Bin, Sarfarosh, Dushman and Tarkeeb. Jagjit Singh has proved himself as a genius as he brings out the true meaning of Mirza Ghalib's poetry by singing them as melodious Ghazals. The album can be easily called as a masterpiece. His transition from the 90's till date has been absolutely marvelous as he has moved towards much more melodious and meaningful Ghazals. The quality of his voice has only become better. Besides movies, he has sung many devotional songs also that are very peaceful to hear. Jagjit Singh is any day the undisputed Ghazal artist in the modern times.
Jagjit Singh is associated with a lot of Charities and has brought out a special album “Cry for Cry” for Children Relief and You (CRY). The other NGO’s he is involved with include Prayas, Save the Children, Alert India, NAB & Concern India. He has done a number of concerts to raise money for Social Causes and mishaps including Earth Quake, Floods etc.
One very important facet of Jagjit Singh’s life is his passions for Horses & Racing. He owns stabled race horses which are looked after by his team of trainers and syces. His relaxation comes from Horses and being around them. He has derby wins to his credit, a feat that gives him immense pleasure and satisfaction.
A colossus in the world of Music, the duo in real life are simple, humorous, unassuming persons touching the hearts of both, the connoisseur of Music as well as the common man.
The List of Awards received by Jagjit Singh is as large as his Musical journey but some of them require a special mention...
"PADMABHUSHAN" : Award from Govt. of India - 2003
"Sangit Natak Academy" Award
"Sahitya Kala Academy" Award - Rajasthan - 1998
"Lata Mangeshkar" Award by M P Govt. -1998
"D. Litt." from Kurukshetra University, Haryana - 2003
Ghalib Academy - Delhi - 2005
Dayavati Modi Award
Teacher's" Lifetime Achievement Award - 2006


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

E. Sreedharan

The metro man of India, Sreedharan was born on 12th July 1932 in Palakkad district of Kerala. He studied at the Victoria College in Palghat and gained his graduation in engineering from the former ‘Government Engineering College’, Kakinada. He started his career as a lecturer in Civil engineering at the Kerala Polytechnic in Kozhikode. Then he moved to the Bombay Port Trust as an apprentice and joined in Indian Railways as a service engineer. He restored the Pamban bridge connecting Rameshwaram with Tamil Nadu in a record time of 46 days, when a tidal wave washed away portions of this bridge. He was awarded the Railway Minister’s Award for this achievement. After that, he served as the deputy chief engineer in charge of the implementation, planning and design of ‘Calcutta Metro’, the first metro in India in 1970. He also served as the Chairman and Managing Director of the Cochin Shipyard. Though he retired from Indian Railways in 1990, the Government called him out of retirement and he was appointed as the CMD of Konkan Railway on contract in 1990. This highly challenging project was completed in a period of seven years under his leadership. This project covering a total of around 760 kms has 93 tunnels and over 150 bridges and it reduced the Mumbai-Kochi distance by one-third. In the mid of 2005, he was appointed as the Managing Director of Delhi Metro and most of the scheduled sections of this project have been completed well-ahead of schedule. Though he announced that he would retire by the end of 2005, but his service has been extended by another three years to oversee the completion of the second phase of Delhi Metro. But now he resigned this post by taking moral responsibility for a Metro bridge collapse in Delhi which cause six people’s death. But Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has rejected to accept his resignation. Knowing his managerial power, he was called in Pakistan for development of the Lahore Metro plan and by the UAE govt to head the Dubai Metro Project. But he was rejected these offers. He is a simple and disciplined man who is famous for achieving the ‘almost impossible’ in a government-administered system.

Sreedharan has received many awards and honors in his life. Indian Government honored him by giving the “Padma Shri” and “Padma Vibhushan” award. Also he was awarded the ‘Man of the Year’ by The Times of India in 2002 and was named as one of Asia’s Heroes by TIME in 2003. Besides, he was awarded the ‘Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur’ (Knight of the Legion of Honor) by the government of France in 2005 for his outstanding commitment to the development of transportation infrastructure in India and his valuable contribution to enhancing Indo-French relations. ‘Shri Om Prakash Bhasin Award’ for professional excellence in engineering in 2002, ‘Railway Minister’s Award’ in 1963, ‘Bharat Shiromani award’ from the Shiromani Institute, Chandigarh in 2005, Degree of Doctor of Science (Honoris causa) from IIT Delhi etc.

Metro Man E. Sreedharan withdrew his resignation letter as managing director of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on Monday by the request of Delhi Chief minister Sheila Dikshit and other senior officials. E.Sreedharan is an Indian civil engineer who is famous for completing the construction of ‘Konkan Railway’ that reduced the Mumbai-Kochi distance by one-third. Now he is the managing director of ‘Delhi Metro’project. He was resigned this post on 12th July 2009 by taking moral responsibility for a Metro bridge collapse in Delhi which cause six people’s death. But Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has rejected to accept his resignation.


Shahrukh Khan

On November 2nd 1965, Shahrukh Khan was born in New Delhi to parents, Fatima and Mir Taj Mohammed. Khan showed a knack for entertaining at a very young age.

When he was younger, he and his family would gather around their radiogram and listen to Vividh Bharti. Once the news segment was over, Khan would get up and break into dance. However, acting was not always Khan’s first career choice.

While attending Hans Raj College, Delhi University, Khan majored in Economics and was quite the jock. He played both football, hockey, and cricket while in college. While Khan would have liked to have pursued sports further, a back injury and an arthritis-ruptured right knee prevented him from doing so.

Khan went on to pursue his Masters from the mass communication research center, Jamia Milia Islamia. Shahrukh Khan was excelling during his first year in the course, which emphasized on filmmaking and journalism, but would not be allowed to finish. His vice principal informed him that he would not be permitted to take the final exams because his attendance was not up to par.

Shahrukh Khan had been dabbling in theater, television and production work for short films outside of the college in his free time; it was while he was in college that he starred in his first TV series Fauji and Dil Dariya.

Circus was his first project when he left college, which sent him traveling all over Maharashtra. Shahrukh Khan has gone on to star in twenty-plus films since leaving college.

His debut film was Deewana which open the doors of film industry for him. He was playing a second hero in it but his work was appreciated. After that there was no looking back. Shah Rukh Khan has won several awards for his outstanding performance in Darr (1994), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Baadshah (1999) ...etc. He also formed a popular screen couple with Kajol.

He's now a successful producer too with Chalte Chalte. His production company "Dreamz Unlimited" is shared with other two people... one is actress, friend, co-star Juhi Chawla and another is director and friend Aziz Mirza.

He is being called 'King Khan' and 'Badshah of Bollywood'. his films are like ISI mark. He has reached to the position of choice where his films flops or hits their release is an awaited affair. Things which makes him apart from other actors are his average looks, fast speech, soulful eyes, dimples on checks, thick lips and most imp is his saying 'I'm the best'. He feels acting is making unbelievable believable. He feels he become a better actor after acting in his two films which are also close to his heart... Dil Se and Kal Ho Naa Ho.

While studying he fell in love with Gauri Chibba who was then studying in Loreto Delhi. He later married her before coming into films. The most talented and hard working actor known to have an inflated ego, for which he works hard to keep it floating. He is having two children a son "Aryaan" and a daughter. He loves his children very much.These day he had started reading books on science as he dont want to be sound like a stupid dad, when they'll ask him which is bigger, Uranus or Saturn. He teaches them one new thing everyday. it could be names of Fidel Castro, Michael Schumacher, Osama Bin Laden or a place a name. He is planning to read maths in another two/three years.

He feels for the younger generation that should follow his zest for life and love of doing the best they can. They should believes that there is a purpose in life that you supposed to fulfill follows it wholeheartedly. And never give up when you stumble and not taken seriously.

SRK's other passion includes advertising. He has endorsed numerous products, including Pepsi, Mayur Suitings, Hyundai Santro, Snoodles, Cinthol soap, Bagpiper club soda, and Clinic All Clear. Khan describes advertising as the soul of filmmaking.

Shahrukh Khan started the production company, Dreamz Unlimited, alongside Juhi Chawla and Aziz Mirza in 1999 with one goal in mind: to make their own kinds of films and not have to be dependent on producers.

While the company first film, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani,was not the success Khan would have hoped, Dreamz Unlimited is now a successful production company in the industry.

Shahrukh Khan was conferred an honorary doctorate in the United Kingdom for his contribution to arts and culture by Bedfordshire University at a ceremony in London last week on 10 th July 2009.


Thursday, July 9, 2009


Lata Mangeshkar is India’s most well known playback singer। She has sung in all the major Indian languages and is one of the most recorded artists in the world. She is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most recorded artist in the world. It is estimated that she has more than 30,000 solo, duet and chorus backed songs in 20 different languages from 1948 to 1987. Now, it must way over 40,000! Lata was introduced to music at a very young age. The life history of Lata Mangeshkar is truly fascinating.

Lata Mangeshkar was born in on September 28, 1929 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh into a Maharashtrian Brahmin household। Her father was Dinanath Mangeshkar and her mother was named Shudhmati. Lata was the oldest of several children. She had a younger brother named Hridayanath Mangeshkar, as well as three younger sisters named Asha (Bhosle), Usha and Meena. (Of these Asha Bhosle would grow up to rival Lata in the world of film music.)

Her exposure to music began in infancy। Her father Dinanath was an accompanied classical vocalist and was very active in the theatre. It is said that Lata made her acting debut at the age of five in a play in which her father was participating. Lata’s musical studies were not limited to hearing her father sing. She also studied under Aman Ali Khan, and later under Amanat Khan, and acquired a good background in classical music. Lata Mangeshkar was very young when her father passed away, thus making the family dependant on Lata. To take care of her family's economic situation, Lata acted in as many as 8 films from 1942 to 1948. She debuted as playback singer in a Marathi film named Kiti Hasaal (1942). Unfortunately the song was edited out. Her first Hindi playback was for the film Aap ke Sewa Main (1947) but she did not get noticed. At that time, the film industry was ruled by female singers who had heavier and huskier voices like Noor Jehan, Shamshad Begum and Zohrabai Ambalewali. While auditioning for the movie Shaheed (1948), she was rejected on the account of her thin voice! But Ghulam Haider saw the potential in her and gave her a chance to sing in the film Majboor. In 1949, she had four major hits from the films Barsaat, Andaaz, Dulari and Mahal. The song "Aayega Aanewala" from Mahal was a huge hit and Lata secured a firm position in the industry.

The period in the early 40's did not look promising for Lata। Her thin voice was very different from the heavier voice quality that was in vogue (e.g., Noor Jahan). She received numerous rejections. It was not until 1947 that she was able to get a toehold in the industry by singing “Pa Lagoon Kar Jori Re” in the film “Aap ke Sewa Main” (1947). Lata sang several songs in other films over the next few years, but her first big hit was in 1949 with “Aayega Aanewaala”. There is no doubt that the partition played a role in Lata’s rise to fame. During the partition, there was a disruption when many directors, producers and artists left Bombay, while others migrated to India from Lahore. One of the most notable artists to leave India was Noor Jahan, who was the undisputed queen of the filmsong at the time. This disruption opened the doors to Lata in an industry that previously may have been harder to get into.

As the 1950’s began, Lata was firmly established as a film singer। Music directors she sang for included such greats as Shankar-Jaikishan, and Anil Biswas. During this period, “Mahal”, “Barsaat”, “Ek Thi Ladki” and “Badi Bahen” were just some of the famous films that used her voice. The next three decades would see Lata Mangeshkar reign as the undisputed queen of the Hindi film song. She sang with almost all of the major music directors, and acquired a considerable clout in the politics of the film industry.

It is pointless to try and enumerate the songs that she did; however, there are a few songs which stand out। In particular “O Sajna Barkha Bahaar Aayee” from Parakh (1960), “Aaja re Pardesi” from Madhumati (1958), “Itna na Mujhse Tu Pyaar Badhaa” from Chhaya (1961), “Allah Tero Naam” from “Hum Dono” (1961), “Ehsaan Tera Hoga Mujh par” from “Junglee” (1961), and “Yeh Sama” from “Jab Jab Phool Khile” (1965), seem particularly notable.

Lata also worked with most of the major music directors in this period। Her work with, both S.D. Burman and R.D. Burman were very fruitful. She also worked with, Shankar /Jaikishan, Salil Chowdhury, Naushad and a host of others. It is often said that her best work came with her songs for Madan Mohan and C. Ramchandra. It is interesting to note that O.P. Nayyar was one of the few major music directors to not utilize her talents. Lata rose to fame rapidly and made her indelible mark in the industry. She has sung with famous singers like Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh, etc. She has perfected almost every genre of music. Her success and determination made her one of the most powerful women in the industry. She refused to sing for the great composer S.D Burman due to some misunderstanding and also stopped singing with Mohammed Rafi. Her power was so immense that they had to come back to her. She actually monopolized the music industry and every music director wanted to work with her. She understood the requirement of each song and sang flawlessly.

However Lata’s reign was not always a smooth one। There was the well known professional rivalry with her sister Asha Bhosle. For some years she would not sing with Mohd. Rafi due to a long standing dispute over royalties. For some years she would not work with the music director S.D. Burman. During the peak of her career, she had a tremendous political clout within the film industry and is known to have exercised this freely. All things come to and end, and Lata’s professional career was no exception। Over the decades, the actresses for whom she was singing became younger, and Lata was growing older. It was inevitable that at some point it was no longer going to be a workable match.

We cannot pinpoint a time where her career started to decline। However by 1980 it was clear that it was not a necessity to have Lata sing for a film. Furthermore, there was a change in the style of the new songs. Emerging music directors such as A.R. Rahman just did not see Lata’s voice as fitting into their approach to creating music (although Lata did lend her voice for some of his work). The result of all of this was that Lata Mangeshkar gradually moved from the peak of her career into today’s state of semiretirement. ever-the-less, this period shows some of Lata’s most interesting work.Songs such as “Sun Sahiba Sun” ("Teri Ganga Maili" - 1986), “Yaara Seeli Seeli” ("Lekin" - 1990), even today stand our as some of her most memorable work.

Lata Mangeshkar has been honored with innumerable awards but the one that truly deserves a special mention is that she is the only second singer in the non-classical category (after M.S Subbulakshmi) in India to have received the highest civilian award, in 2001 Lata Mangeshkar was awarded India’s highest civilian honor the “Bharat Ratna”, She has received three national awards and eight Filmfare awards after which she stopped accepting awards in order to promote new talent. She continues to sing every now and then for Hindi movies and perform live. Truly a living legend, Lata Mangeshkar has a talent that is second to none.

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