In Sarfarosh, Lalit Pandit discusses writing a ghazal in the style of Jagjit Singh
The film features Naseeruddin Shah lip-syncing the role of a Ghazal singer, and Lalit Pandit, who together with his brother Jatin composed the film’s iconic score, recalls the difficulty of writing a ghazal for Jagjit Singh.
Lalit reflected, “Sarfarosh came to us through Mr.Vikram Mehrotra, who also produced Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na. He’s a close friend of ours and he dropped over to tell us about this movie starring Aamir and directed by John, titled Sarfarosh.After the success of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar and Ghulam, it was thrilling to reunite with Aamir.
Because Aamir is Lalit’s personal favourite, he had to put in extra effort. The fact that it was an Aamir Khan film prompted us to get down to business. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and many other films released around this time did quite well at the box office, keeping us very busy.It took longer than usual to record the music for Sarfarosh since John took his time choosing which songs to include.
Lalit thought Sarfarosh was musically conducive. We had two opportunities for amazing music with Sarfarosh, and I felt we blew them, both with item numbers.The romance song “Jo haal dil ka” ended up being the most successful and driving force of the soundtrack. Jatin put up a lot of effort, and the Qawwalli turned out beautifully; I sang “Jo haal dil ka.”
In the meantime, Ghazal music stalled. We’d never attempted a Ghazal before, but this was a pivotal moment in the movie that required one.Back then, I really connected with Jagijit Singhji.Western Outdoor was where we usually recorded our tracks with the great sound designer Daman Sood and the genius producer Avinash Oak. Since I usually worked on the song’s mix with these fantastic engineers on my own, Jagjitji would often come with me to the Studios. In other words, I’d like to have one of those things done for you.I’d ask, “Jagjit Uncle, where can I find ghazals in films?”Though I adored hearing his voice, he insisted on it every time we met.
Then Lalit had the chance to collaborate with the legendary Jagjit Singh. “I was thinking about Jagjitji and how happy I was about the Sarfarosh ghazal issue, so I decided to give him a call. I explained to him that I am in a sticky circumstance and could use his advice. He was extremely useful, of course. I asked if we could get together and write it as a team. “Bilkul nahin,” he proclaimed. Say it with me: “Aisa mat karna.” The song will be influenced less by you and more by me. Banao tum. He suggested I determine Jagjitji’s note range by listening to a number of ghazals written by the famous composer Kuldip Singhji.It became clear to me while listening to these ghazals that Jagjitji was not a singer of particularly high notes.Kuldipji was also quite helpful and is a great person in general, I must add. I hold him in the highest esteem.I should also mention that the idea to write a ghazal for Sarfarosh did not originate with Jagijitji; rather, we had already attempted and worked on a ghazal and even recorded it for the album. However, we did an abysmal job for a first attempt at the style!!!Too much complexity was introduced, and the result was useless.
The Ghazal deserved a second chance. The precise Beher (word metre) was essential to the creation of a Ghazal, as Lalit explains. The words, of course, had to come first. The poet Nida Fazli Sahab entered Jagjitji’s sphere of influence at this point.The musical skills we had with my sibling allowed us to create songs and tunes with few notes. There were really only four notes you needed to know to sing Aati kya khandala.
This time around, Hoshwalon ko khabar felt like the proper Ghazal to use.
Lalit comments, “It sounded mature and peaceful, with beautiful, straightforward words, and everything seemed just right.”All Jagjitji could say was, “Main isko apne andaaz main gaoonga” (It’s great, but I want my own)!Which, of course, we did, and his voice was so captivating; I loved it so much!In the end, the Ghazal turned out well, and it continues to be a fan favourite.
Hoshwalon ko khabar is timeless knowledge that has stood the test of time. Lalit reflects, “I remember Jagjitji calling me to invite me to his concert at Shanmukhananda hall. Before interval, I could tell the crowd was getting fidgety from where I was sitting, so he gave me a little of an ishara. He smiled sarcastically as he began to play Hoshwalon ko, sending the crowd streaming back into the concert hall. I had already introduced myself as Munni badnaam when he informed me that his signature number, “Hoshwalon ko,” was an audience favourite at every one of his performances. He was a hilarious man who enjoyed a good joke.My heart aches for him. It was during his birthday party that I last saw Jagjit Uncle.On his special day, he invited every musician he could think of to perform, and he danced and sang and celebrated to the utmost. That will always be my favourite recollection of him.