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Kundan Lal Saigal or K.L. Saigal was a singer and actor. During his time Indian Film Industry was established in Calcutta and now Mumbai is called as Bollywood Film industry. He is known as the first superstar of the Hindi film industry.
K.L. Saigal was born on 11 April, 1904 in Jammu. His father’s name was Amar Chand and he was a Tehsildar at the court of Raja of Jammu & Kashmir. His mother Kesar Bai was a religious women and had interest in music. She used to attend religious function where kirtan, bhajan and shabad were sung in traditional way and it was based on classical music. His mother used to takes Saigal with her in these functions.
Saigal’s schooling was for short period and it was uneventful. During his childhood he used to act as Sita in the Ramlila of Jammu. Saigal was fall out of school. In starting he worked as a railway timekeeper for earning money.
Later on he got the chance to work as a typewriter salesman and because of it he used to travel in several parts of India. While travelling for his work he became friend of Meharchand Jain of Lahore. After some time Meharchand started the Assam Soap Factory in Shillong. Saigal and Meharchand was even friend with each other when they shifted to Calcutta. They used to take part in mehfil-e-mushaira. Those days Saigal used to be a potential singer and he was encouraged by Meharchand. Many times Saigal has remarked that whatever he was, it could be possible because of the support and encouragement of his friend Meharchand. For short period, he worked as a hotel manager. During all these passing years he used to sing regularly and he became more passionate about singing.
In 1930, Classical musician Harishchandra Bali who was a music director also brought K.L. Saigal in the city of Calcutta and he was the one who introduced him to R.C. Boral. R.C. Boral liked Saigal’s talent of singing. B.N. Sircar hired Saigal for Calcutta-based film studio New Theatres at the cost of Rs.200 per month. There Saigal got the opportunity of meeting with Pankaj Mullick, K.C. Dey and Pahari Sanyal.
In the meantime, Gramophone Company of India released the Punjabi songs of Saigal’s which was composed by Harishchandra Bali. This way, Saigal’s first music director was Bali. Saigal got the chance of acting in Urdu film Mohabbat Ke Ansoo for the first time and after that he worked in Zinda Laash and Subah Ka Sitara but these films did not work at the box office at that time. When he sang four Bhajan for the film Puran Bhagat, it became hit in India. He also worked in the films such as Chandidas, Yahudi Ki Ladki, and Rooplekha. Once upon a time Lata Mangeshkar has said that she wanted to marry K.L. Saigal after seeing him in Chandidas. Later on he worked in Devdas which established him as an actor. Songs of this film Balam Aaye Baso Moray Man Mein and Dukh Ke Ab Din Beetat Naahi became hit in India.
He has acted in Bengali films and has sung songs of Rabindranath Tagore. Saigal’s Bengali songs were appreciated in Bengal.
Saigal continued to work with New Theatres and has delivered many successful films in Hindi and Bengali such as President, Street Singer (Hindi), Didi, Saathi (Bengali) and Zindagi.
Later on K.L. Saigal shifted to Bombay for working with Ranjit Movietone. In Bombay he sang and acted in successful movies such as Bhakt Surdas and Tansen. His song Diya Jalao is remarkable. He again went to New Theatres in Calcutta for completing his film Meri Behen.
He was addicted to alcohol and it causes to his death. Alcohol affected his work and he was fully dependent on it. There was a time when he could only sing after having drink. Due to his addiction to alcohol he died on 18 January 1947 in Jalandhar at his ancestral place. But before his death, he got the opportunity to work under Naushad for the film Shahjehan. He sang many beautiful songs such as Mere Sapnon Ki Rani, Jab Dil Hi Toot Gaya and Ae Dil-e-Beqaraar Jhoom. He sang songs for the film Parwana, it was his last film and it was released after his death.
K. L. Saigal is the father of three children a son and two daughters and he also had an adopted child.
K.L. Saigal had a unique voice and it was liked by the generation of his time. His singing was appreciated by the legendry Bollywood singer such as Mohammad Rafi, Mukesh, Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar. Apart from singing Bollywood songs he used to sing bhajans, ghazals and hori. He used to sing the creation of poets like Zauq, Ghalib and Seemab.
He has given many beautiful songs to the Hindi film industry and has left his mark.