Critically acclaimed singer K.L Saigal was known for his commendable contributions to Indian cinema. He's one of the very few superstars who sat on the throne of fame before anyone else in the industry. His music and charisma still continue to spread its magic by inspiring upcoming talents of the industry. Let’s look at his golden journey in Indian Cinema.
K.L Saigal was born on 11th April 1904 in Jammu, to Amarchand Saigal and Kesarbai Saigal. His father worked as a tehsildar at the court of the Jammu & Kashmir. This divine singer began his journey at a very young age, giving him an incredible opportunity of singing at the court of the Maharaja Pratap Singh. The Maharaja was thoroughly impressed and wished him good luck for his bright future.
A Self-Taught Legend
Life took a drastic turn when K.L Saigal found his voice cracking at the tender age of 13, it took a toll on him when he had to remain silent for months. After a lot of determination with the help of 3 magnificent singers Faiyaaz Khan, Pankaj Mullick, and Pahari Sanyal, Saigal started perfecting his craft once again. He never took any sort of formal training from anyone, he cultivated his music and formed his own singing style, which was applauded by everyone.
His singing career started flourishing when a sales representative of Hindustan Record Company witnessed one of his casual singing sessions with his friends and motivated Sehgal to sign a contract with the company.
The Golden Era of Bollywood
He appeared in nearly about 36 full-length films presenting to the world in the golden era of Bollywood. Some of his famous films were 'Subah Ke Sitare', 'Zinda Laash', 'Mohabbat Ke Aansoo"
The Saigal Era
1932 to 1946 was known as the K.L Saigal era. He shifted to Bombay in 1940 and did unforgettable films like Bhakta Surdas, Tansen, Kurukshetra, Omar Khayyam and many more! Some of his immortal songs are Diya Jalao Jagmag Jagmag, Rumjhum Rumjhum Chaal Tihari
In 1935, Devdas was released, which increased Saigal’s popularity. KL Saigal portrayed the character of a love struck and a heartbroken Devdas and it took audiences on an astonishing journey of sorrow! His solo performances in Balam Aaye Baso and Dukh Ke Ab Din were tagged as immortal.
Stardom in Bengal
Saigal's input in Bengali cinema was praiseworthy, he picked up on Bengali quite well and acted in seven Bengali films in total. Being a non-Bengali it came as a surprise to Rabindranath Tagore who decided to hear him first. The superstar Saigal embraced his stardom in Bengal by giving 30 beautiful Bengali songs to the Industry.
K.L Saigal was a classic himself, various budding singers used to copy his melodious style but couldn't match up to it. His astonishing singing was also revered and idolized by the first generation of post-independence Hindi playback singers, including Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh, and Mohammad Rafi. They have also said in their interviews that they consider Kundan Lal Saigal to be their music guru.
Evergreen Contribution to Indian Cinema
He continued bearing fruit in the critically acclaimed films like Didi (Bengali), President (Hindi) in 1937, Desher Mati (Bengali), Dharti Mata (Hindi) in 1938, Saathi (Bengali), Street Singer (Hindi) in 1938, Dushman (1939), Jiban Maran (1939) and Zindagi in 1940. These films are also a part of the film festivals happening all around the world.
A great loss to the Indian Cinema
On January 18th, 1947, at the age of forty-two, this rare gem of an artist passed away. Indian Cinema lost an artist of its golden era but his music continued to inspire people with his gift of music.
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 R.C. Boral