K. L. Saigal

indian singer and actor

Kundan Lal Saigal (April 11, 1904January 18, 1947) was a legendary Indian singer and actor. He was the first superstar of the Hindi film industry, which was centered in Calcutta during Saigal's time. A tribute in his memory has been released in the song "Saigal Blues" in the Bollywood movie Delhi Belly (2011). In his career of fifteen years, he acted in 36 feature films, rendered 185 songs which includes 142 film songs and 43 non-film songs. His musical renderings covered the creations of poets such as Ghalib, Zauq, and Seemab.

Kundan Lal Saigal on the right with his co-female artist Jamuna in Devdas (1936 film)

Quotes edit

  • ...a fakir singing a ghazal of Ghalib’s. They sat down and listened and when it was over Saigal put his hand in his pocket and whatever was in it – 5,000 rupees, a great sum in those days – gave to the fakir. And when the friend asked whether he knew how much he had given, Saigal said, “Did Oopar Wala count the money when he gave it to me?
    • Saigal meant 'god' as Ooparwal in "Begum Akhtar the Undisputed Malika of Ghazals".

About K. L. Saigal edit

  • Never before had I heard such melody from human throat. It was superhuman. Was he a Gandharva come to earth? No expression on his face. Not much movement of lips. Perfect control over breath. Perfect pauses. Clear pronunciation. I was spellbound.
    • By Raychand Boral in "Begum Akhtar the Undisputed Malika of Ghazals".
  • Devdas is remembered as an all-time classic of Indian cinema, which immortalized New Theatres' R C Barua and K L Saigal. It was epoch-making, and marked the blossoming of Indian cinema; with its depiction of feelings and emotions. It brought films closer to real life.
  • Even I used to make fun of Saigal when I was younger, saying naak mein gaata hai (he sings through his nose) because I didn't know better.
  • I was told when he died he was listening to Jab Dil Hi Toot Gaya, which I thought was far-fetched, because Saigal never liked his film songs, just his Ghalib compositions. But it was dramatic, so we used it. So imagine my surprise, when after a show in Delhi, a lady came up to me and said she was the niece, Durgesh, seen in that death scene, and her uncle had indeed listened to that song on his deathbed.
    • By M Syed Alam in "A tribute to KL Saigal."
  • He sang in low octaves from the throat which became a fashion and model for many singers. The Hindi films from 1932 to 1946 had the melody of Saigal.
    • In "The Literary Works of Ranganathan Magadi".
  • The actual star persona of K.L.Saigal strongly relied on a similar unspoken hierarchy between the ‘natural’ and the ‘trained voice’, emphasizing his lack of formal musical training and his ‘natural gift.’

Saigal, the unforgettable edit

By critique Jyoti Nair Belliappa "Saigal, the unforgettable". The Hindu. 24 March 2006. Retrieved on 3 January 2014. 

  • Think of K.L. Saigal and a form emerges. Recall the voice, his distinctive personality and slowly, mysteriously, you can hear the inimitable "Nain heen ko raah dikha prabhu, pug pug thokar khaoon main" (show the way to the blind oh Lord, I stumble helplessly), combining both corporeality and spirituality.
  • ...the golden voice of Kundan Lal Saigal's is literally a transferred epithet, where `golden' and `kundan' are synonyms proclaiming the extraordinary feat of this actor-singer. "Chah barbaad karegi hamen maloom na thha" in a voice so intimate it becomes a part of one's consciousness; a fantastic achievement in an age lacking in sophisticated technology.
  • As an actor, Saigal had a special feel for the scenes he portrayed. The mood especially got reflected in his songs: his Devdas is a case in point. "Dukh ke ab din beetet nahin... " brought out the deep tonal quality in his voice. His was not just a base, guttural voice but an emotionally-charged, husky nasal articulation, descending lower octave with rasping resonance and with an infinite variety of forms.
  • One's all-time favourite has been "Aye katibe taqdeer mujeh itna bata dei, kyon mujse qhafa hai kya mane kiya hai... ".
  • The phenomenal singer's lone image of an animated performer transcended the time in which the image was conceived.
  • ...in "Anmol Ghadi," he acted and sang a duet with Noor Jahan, "Awaaz dei kahan hai... *Once again it was the tender emotion of love expressed with an ardour that lent credibility to the song.
  • The two hundred or so songs that Saigal sang, touched a popular chord despite their, or perhaps because of their, profundity.

Bollywood's Top 20: Superstars of Indian Cinema edit

Bhaichand Patel (2012). Bollywood's Top 20: Superstars of Indian Cinema. Penguin Books India. pp. 60–. ISBN 978-0-670-08572-9.  Saigal- with his drooping lock of hair falling out carelessly from his protruding hat and wandering aimlessly, gun in hand, looking for birds to shoot –epitomised the tragic hero to perfection and became an overnight sensation throughout the country. His ‘Dukh ke din bitat nahin’, Balam aye baso’, and Piya bina nahin avat chain’ wrenched the hearts of millions of cine-goers. The latter thumri had been popularized by Ustad Abdul Karim Khan who, incidentally had wept uncontrollably like a child on hearing Saigal’s rendition on his first ever visit to a cinema hall.

  • On his acting and singing in the film Devdas
    • In p. 6
  • Saigal was a born singer with a perfectly tuned voice and his seemingly effortless talent was the result of a deep, meditative training style nurtured not by any gharana but by intense riyaz and mad passion for the ‘inner world’.
    • Timar Baran, Music Director in p. 6
  • …he was impossible to fathom and the most complex creation of God.
    • His wife Asharani in p. 7
  • Even if the childlike, ignorant and careless Saigal committed any blunder, it was hard to get irritated with him. Often it happened that the set was ready…But he would not been seen anywhere. Weary and tired of waiting for him, everybody would prepare for “pack-up’, Suddenly someone would inform us that he had been singing songs at the tune of broken harmonium in a small room at the farthest end, forgetting the world around. After coming so late he would try to make light of the situation by his innocent antics so that no one could ever get angry with him.

External links edit

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