Singer Jaspal Singh had an almost exclusive musical partnership with composer Ravindra Jain. They collaborated on some of the most popular songs of the 1970s and ’80s, including “Geeta Gata Chal” (Geet Gaata Chal, 1975), “Jab Jab Tu Mere Saamne Aaye” (Shyam Tere Kitne Naam, 1977) and “Kaun Disaa Mein Le Ke Chalaa Re Batohiya” (Nadiya Ke Paar, 1982).

Jain matched the simplicity of the settings of the songs in villages and small towns with melodious tunes that echoed the quiet rhythm of a pastoral life. Singh sang for lead actor Sachin Pilgaonkar and became instantly known as the actor’s playback voice. However, the popularity of the songs became the singer’s undoing. Singh was recognised as a singer of hinterland tracks carrying a vernacular folk sound that was out of sync with the modern jazz riffs and disco beats shaking the rest of Hindi film music during the ’70s.

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‘Sawan Ko Aane Do’.

The title track of Sawan Ko Aane Do (1979) gave Singh an opportunity to sing a dance-based number, unlike the usual ballads featuring Sachin. Shot with lead actors Arun Govil and Zarina Wahab, the music was composed by Raj Kamal, who favoured singer Yesudas. Sawan Ko Aane Do had 10 songs with six solos for Yesudas and one duet for Sulakshana Pandit – another talented singer with a limited career. Singh sang the title track in a freewheeling style, embellishing the composition with improvised vocal ornamentation. The untrained singer had to prove his mettle in the company of Yesudas, but the risk paid off. The title track was a boost that further established Singh's versatility.

Singh worked with other composers such as Usha Khanna, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, S Mohinder, C Arjun, and S Madan but none of the songs caught on with listeners. Was his career a fluke? Or did his talent sparkle only in the company of composers like Jain and Kamal? Jaspal Singh falls in the bracket of singers who are underrated and underutilised despite a few trailblazing hits.

Singer Jaspal Singh.
Singer Jaspal Singh.