Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Singing Superstar

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Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Singing Superstar
Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Singing Superstar

First superstar of Indian cinemaKL Saigal

coolsaints11 Senior Member
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Posted: 27 March 2006 at 7:29pm | IP Logged

The first article with the same heading got deleted by mistake..I have heard a lot about How much people use to love KL Saigal's voice..I didnot see any article posted on this forum recently on KL Saigal...So posting one..

Kundan Lal Saigal was really the first male superstar of Indian Cinema who set the tone for musical melodrama acting in the 1930s and 40s. Though not conventionally good-looking and balding (in fact he always wore a wig to cover his baldness), people responded to his everyman demeanor and to that voice…even when articulating dialogue.

Saigal was born in Jammu and as a child occasionally played Sita in the Ramlila of Jammu. His only formal training apparently came from a little known Sufi peer, Salman Yussuf. The singing tradition he assimilated had little classical rigour but emphasized the poetic blending of syllables into musical forms like the thumri and ghazal. His renditions of Mirza Ghalib's poetry and his identification with its tragic iconography formed the famous Saigal persona.

A school dropout, he worked first as a railway time-keeper and then as a typewriter salesman before B.N. Sircar recruited him at New Theatres. Saigal's style was substantially shaped at New Theatres by R.C. Boral, Pankaj Mullick and Timir Baran.

Saigal's first film was Mohabbat ke Aansoo (1932) but it was with the success of Chandidas (1934) that he became a star.

The following year saw him in his career-defining role - the title role in Devdas (1935) directed by P.C. Barua. The film was a triumph for Saigal and took him to dizzying heights. Saigal brought alive the character of Devdas creating the archetype of the relentlessly luckless, tragic hero. His brooding looks, the vagrant lock of hair, the resonant voice filled with love and despair drove the nation into a frenzy. His songs in the film Balam Aaye Baso Mere Man Mein and Dukh ke Din Ab Beete Nahin became smash hits. In the latter song Saigal obliterates the artificial barriers that separate prose, recitation and song as he breaks the melodic progression of the song by laughing bitterly at his own squalour. In fact, Saigal remains the definitive Devdas even though the role has subsequently been played by such thespians like Dilip Kumar and A. Nageshwara Rao.

Saigal was fortunate in that he worked for an institution like New Theatres. Known for their quality filmmaking, Saigal featured in many of the studio's masterpieces - Didi (Bengali)/ President (Hindi) (1937), Saathi (Bengali)/ Street Singer (Hindi) (1938), Zindagi (1940).

In Street Singer Saigal's rendition of Babul Mora was done live in front of the camera. Though playback had come into vogue, he convinced director Phani Majumdar he would do a better job live in front of the camera. Thus Saigal 'walked the streets' in the studio singing Babul Mora, with the entire orchestra following him out of the camera's reach. The result was magic!

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Seeing the popularity Saigal had, Sagar Movietone launched Surendra as an answer to Saigal and though he had a distinguished career of his own, Saigal was still Saigal.

In the early 40s Saigal moved to Bombay working with Ranjit Movietone. Bhakt Surdas (1942) and Tansen (1943) were big hits and consolidated his popularity.

The songs of Tansen are resplendent in their royal glory. The film successfully shapes the classical and semi-classical thumris and dadras to the need of cinema. Above all, the film is still remembered for Saigal's astonishing rendering of Diya Jalao in raga Deepak.

Saigal returned to New Theatres to do Meri Bahen (1944). The film is technically one of Saigal's best films at New Theatres and was known of course for its music with songs like Do Naina Matware and Ae Qatib-e-Taqdeer Mujhe Itna Bata De.

However alcohol was by now fast overtaking Saigal's life. It was said he could only sing only when fortified with liquor. His health began failing. A last ditch effort at abstinence proved useless as he was too far-gone and in early 1947 Saigal passed away in Jullunder. But not before giving us such melodic gems like Mere Sapnon Ki Rani, Ae Dil-e-Bekaraar Jhoom, Jab Dil hi Toot Gaya - from Shah Jehan (1946).

Such was the power and mystique of Saigal's singing that singers likeMukesh and Kishore Kumar started their careers singing in the 'Saigal style' before etching out their own identities.

It is over half a century since Saigal passed away but his haunting resonant, voice continues to enthrall listeners on early morning radio or on some fanatic collector's old gramophone player…

musicpulse Senior Member
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Posts: 547

Posted: 27 March 2006 at 8:01pm | IP Logged
Thanks for the article.
coolsaints11 Senior Member
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Joined: 07 November 2005
Posts: 898

Posted: 27 March 2006 at 8:04pm | IP Logged
Originally posted by adwarakanath

Thanks. Even I've heard my parents and grandparents rave about his voice. Never liked his singing though. But some of the songs are beautiful, and would've sounded even more beautiful in someone else's voice...say Talat or Rafi Wink

Okay, don't kill me for saying that. That's just my opinion because I can't stand Saigal's voice.
I am not his fan either but I must say some people love him to death 
musicpulse Senior Member
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Joined: 28 December 2005
Posts: 547

Posted: 27 March 2006 at 8:09pm | IP Logged
I like his do nayna matwale....
musicpulse Senior Member
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Joined: 28 December 2005
Posts: 547

Posted: 27 March 2006 at 8:11pm | IP Logged
Dawn..thanks a lot for the links
coolsaints11 Senior Member
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Joined: 07 November 2005
Posts: 898

Posted: 28 March 2006 at 4:51am | IP Logged
I heard Sudesh Bhowsle mimicking KL Saigal's voice in a concert with lata...He was amazingly soooo close..He also sang in Talat's and Hemant's song....those golden days must be goooood...... Big smile

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