It’s not something that celebrates the sonorities of human voice, but springs straight from the heart. Jaswinder Singh’s music, his pace never moving beyond mid-tempo, is a soul-stirring blend of yearning and nostalgia. “I never expected Kerala audience to be so receptive. They hardly speak Hindi, but are so appreciative towards ghazal. I would love to visit here again,” says the young singer who was in the city recently.
Jaswinder says it’s a myth that ghazals ought to be melancholic. “Ghazal means having a dialogue with your beloved, so it has to be soft and romantic. Love is a delightful tangle of emotions and ghazals explore the various tones of it. Along with longing and anguish there is bliss and elation. The genre doesn’t have any strict protocol,” he says.
As the son of Kuldeep Singh who composed renowned melodies like ‘Tumko dekha to ye khayal aaya’ and ‘Itni shakti hame dena daata’ it was no surprise that Jaswinder got besotted with music at a very young age. “My Father was my first guru. I used to accompany him while he was recording and it was him who ingrained this zeal for singing in me.” Jaswinder also had the fortune to train under ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh who extended a hand of support to the budding singer. “He liked my voice and guided me to finetune it during the four years I spent in his company.”
As a globetrotting ghazal artist Jaswinder feels music has a miraculous ability to touch the listener deep within. “In ghazal, poetry comes first, the voice and rendition are only secondary. Non-Indian audience can’t follow the lines, they just enjoy the music. But here the music is capable of creating an air charged with emotions, it invokes the exact sentiment hinted by the lyrics. The USP of ghazal is that it conveys the mood and feel cutting across the language barrier,” he says.
If his earlier generation of ghazal singers included iconic figures like Mehdi Hassan and Jagjit Singh, now very few vocalists are taking up the genre. Jaswinder says the seemingly-simple renditions spring from long years of riyaz. “It may sound very easy, but if you want to be a good ghazal singer you need to learn classical music for at least ten years. After you are trained in various ragas, you start mastering the language to get your Urdu pronunciation right and accurate. A ghazal singer can’t just skim through poetry, so in the next stage all great poets starting from Mirza Galib are introduced. Finally you have to attain the caliber to go live on stage for three or four hours without break. So the whole process boils down to 14 or 15 years of hard work. The new generation singers want to be overnight stars. They don’t have the patience for this style of schooling.”
Racy remixes and techno tracks seem to rule the music scene today, does that mean now melodies have taken a backseat? The singer says the demand of ghazals have grown manifold in the digital era. “If you are restless and stressed out you need something to calm your nerves. Soulful and soothing, ghazals offer a magical indulgence. No other music can beat the harmony it creates,” he winds up.