Jagjit Singh And The Green-Eyed Monster

There are few things as poignant as a great artist, in the autumn of his career, getting embittered by the success of younger artists. I am a fan of Jagjit Singh, and his petty outburst today against AR Rahman and Gulzar is pathetic. Particularly this bit of WTFness:

After lambasting Rahman’s work, saying it’s just an imitation of Western music, Singh has now challenged the Oscar-nominated composer to sing ghazals to prove his talent.

Rahman hasn’t got his Oscar nominations for Best Musical Performance in Ghazal Singing, so I don’t see the relevance of Singh’s challenge. Of course Rahman would be unable to do justice to “Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho”—but he’d be no worse than Singh trying to sing “Tere Bina” from Guru or “Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera” from Swades. So fricking what? They’re both exceptional at what they do, and while Singh has a right to his opinion, this kind of public petulance lowers him in everybody’s eyes.

Singh, by the way, had asked the government a few years ago to “ban Pakistani singers from performing in India.” I wonder if that was motivated by misplaced nationalism, as I had then assumed, or something else.

Update: Bharat Dhurka emails me a link to a video clip of Singh talking about Rahman and Gulzar. In the clip, Singh asks Rahman to compose a ghazal, not to sing one—HT’s quotes might well be taken from something Singh said elsewhere, of course.

In any case, that demand is as absurd—like Paul McCartney challenging Eminem to write a ballad to prove himself as a songwriter. How silly would that be?