Sunday, 24 May 2020

Kaagaz Ki Kashti: Jagjit Singh Come Alive (2017)

[*** stars / *****] 

Kaagaz Ki Kashti: Jagjit Singh Come Alive is a lively chronicle of the late legendary ghazal singer's life. 

The documentary is a compilation of interviews with Jagjit's relatives, collaborators, poets and friends, and a treasure house of archival material featuring the singer. 

It is in the archival material, showcasing Jagjit's exuberant, humourous personality that the documentary truly comes alive. 

I once again relived the silken voice and the immortal songs, the sheer mastery and uncanny audience connect. Jagjit's death in 2012 ended the ghazal's reign in popular Indian culture. 

A life of passion
Kaagaz Ki Kashti: Jagjit Singh Come Alive is a celebratory, loosely chronological account. 

It starts from the great singer's early years in his home town Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, his astonishing first ghazal composition at the age of 13, a youth festival star, his move to Mumbai, struggle, defying staunch traditions to do away with his turban and beard, success, love, stardom, committing to 70 concerts a year as part of his 70th birthday celebrations and his demise. 

Ghazal fans will love everything about this intimately-made documentary, right down to the funny end credits. 

Conventional flow
I watched the documentary with a fanboy exuberance couple of years ago. On revisiting it recently, I found that there is a home video turn to it, instead of been a fascinating study of an enigmatic, cheerful musical genius.

This is also a conventional take, not a keen, objective, in-depth look into Singh's life.  

Aspects like Singh's addictive smoking habit that he finally gave up after 40 years, his rumoured lifetime love for alcohol, needed more screen-time. 

His singing technique is only mentioned in passing, needed more on how he coped with a heart-wrenching loss, more on his chemistry and interactions with other famous artists, friends and poets. 

Clearly, the legendary singer's life is calling out for a documentary sequel. 

Celebrating a life in songs
Despite its partisan view, Kaagaz Ki Kashti: Jagjit Singh Come Alive is absolute nostalgia gold, a lovingly pieced together life story of a man who in his own merry way, followed his heart. 

(First version - Dec 19, 2018)
(Second version - May 24, 2020)

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