hindi film music

How ‘Babul Mora’, sung by Jagjit Singh, was recorded at 4am

A writer and filmmaker remembers her first encounters with the renowned singer, whose 75th birth anniversary was on February 8.

Images of Chitra and Jagjit Singh are part of the invisible archive of my mind. It began as a solo when Chitra visited our tiny apartment on 29th Road in Bandra in Mumbai. My husband, Basu Bhattacharya, had by then become almost famous after Teesri Kasam and Anubhav. So many aspiring actors and singers – especially Bengalis – came knocking. Chitra had just been divorced and hoped to become a playback singer. She was also a Bengali, and that was her visa to Basu.

Between trips to the kitchen, I saw this sophisticated woman. She rendered snatches of songs to prove her credentials. I heard her say that she would come back with her music teacher. One evening, I opened the door to find the impeccably dressed Chitra with a rather shy man standing behind. Rounds of tea were ordered. I got a glimpse of the couple, but it is what I heard that made me stop in my tracks. The music teacher’s sensational voice made the walls of our room come alive. Jagjit Singh’s clear tonal quality and diction echoed in my ears.

The two became frequent visitors. Jagjit would lug his harmonium from his Fiat car while humming and singing. I would wait to hear his golden voice throb like a heartbeat.

The couple’s visits continued after we moved to a larger place in Khar. The residence was turned overnight into a set for Basu’s next film, Aavishkar. I was the set designer for the 1974 movie, starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore.

Chitra and Jagjit were there every day. Suddenly Basu decided to ask the couple to render a background song. Composer Kanu Roy rehearsed with them at home, and “Babul Mora”, based on Nawab Wajid Ali Shah’s soulful composition and composed in the Bhairavi raga, was finally recorded at 4am.


How I would long to hear Jagjit's voice render “Babul Mora”. KL Saigal has left an iconic version of the song in the movie Street Singer, but Basu did not want Jagjit to imitate Saigal. Jagjit’s melodious, rich and warm voice condensed pathos into a song that has gone down as one of the ultimate statements on separation and longing for one’s natal home. Written by the exiled Nawab of Lucknow for his beloved city, it is a jewel of a composition. I think this background song is Chitra-Jagjit's first disc.

In 1979, Basu was making Griha Pravesh, starring Sanjeev Khanna and Sharmila Tagore. The script required a background song to lift the moment when the husband rediscovers his wife’s hidden beauty. Jagjit’s “Baat Niklegi To Phir” seemed to convey the husband’s inner turmoil. I suggested to Basu that he use this song, and I am grateful that the sequence is one of the film's most gracious highlights.


Jagjit's rendtion of “Babul Mora” remains his most evocative song. It is Jagjit at his purest. The ghazal emperor was a simple, unassuming man, whom I regret not knowing well enough.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

When did we start parenting our parents?

As our parents grow older, our ‘adulting’ skills are tested like never before.

From answering every homework question to killing every monster under the bed, from soothing every wound with care to crushing anxiety by just the sound of their voice - parents understandably seemed like invincible, know-it-all superheroes all our childhood. It’s no wonder then that reality hits all of a sudden, the first time a parent falls and suffers a slip disc, or wears a thick pair of spectacles to read a restaurant menu - our parents are growing old, and older. It’s a slow process as our parents turn from superheroes to...human.

And just as slow to evolve are the dynamics of our relationship with them. Once upon a time, a peck on the cheek was a frequent ritual. As were handmade birthday cards every year from the artistically inclined, or declaring parents as ‘My Hero’ in school essays. Every parent-child duo could boast of an affectionate ritual - movie nights, cooking Sundays, reading favourite books together etc. The changed dynamic is indeed the most visible in the way we express our affection.

The affection is now expressed in more mature, more subtle ways - ways that mimics that of our own parents’ a lot. When did we start parenting our parents? Was it the first time we offered to foot the electricity bill, or drove them to the doctor, or dragged them along on a much-needed morning walk? Little did we know those innocent acts were but a start of a gradual role reversal.

In adulthood, children’s affection for their parents takes on a sense of responsibility. It includes everything from teaching them how to use smartphones effectively and contributing to family finances to tracking doctor’s appointments and ensuring medicine compliance. Worry and concern, though evidence of love, tend to largely replace old-fashioned patterns of affection between parents and children as the latter grow up.

It’s something that can be easily rectified, though. Start at the simplest - the old-fashioned peck on the cheek. When was the last time you gave your mom or dad a peck on the cheek like a spontaneous five-year-old - for no reason at all? Young parents can take their own children’s behaviour available as inspiration.

As young parents come to understand the responsibilities associated with caring for their parents, they also come to realise that they wouldn’t want their children to go through the same challenges. Creating a safe and secure environment for your family can help you strike a balance between the loving child in you and the caring, responsible adult that you are. A good life insurance plan can help families deal with unforeseen health crises by providing protection against financial loss. Having assurance of a measure of financial security for family can help ease financial tensions considerably, leaving you to focus on being a caring, affectionate child. Moreover,you can eliminate some of the worry for your children when they grow up – as the video below shows.


To learn more about life insurance plans available for your family, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of SBI Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.