K. L. Saigal, or Kundan Lal Saigal, also known as Kundan Lal Sehgal, is the great Indian film actor, and singer, who was born on 11th of April, 1904. He was born to Amar Chand, who was working for the Raja of J&K, and Kesar Bai, who was very religious. He was born in Nawa Shahar, which is situated in Jammu and Kashmir. Saigal has three elder and one younger sibling. His star sign is known to be Aries. Saigal’s mother was very much interested in music, and hence, took Saigal to most of the religious gatherings where he could hear bhajans and kirtans being sung.
Saigal was a dropout from school. He used to work as a railway timekeeper and has also worked as a typewriter salesman for the company of Remington Typewriter. Before he started his career in the Indian film industry, such jobs offered him the time as well as an opportunity to travel around India. This played a major role in Saigal’s entry into Bollywood. He got married to Asha Rani in the year 1935, and they were blessed with three children,
, Nina was born in the year 1937, and Bina in the year of 1941.
As a young kid, it was one among Saigal’s hobbies to take part and act in the ‘Ram Leela’s’ that were conducted locally. This was his first coaching in singing and acting. Later on, he also started practicing with the musicians at the shrine of Salamat Yusuf, a Sufi saint. As an amateur, he used to sing along with his friends in crowds and gatherings, which helped him meet people like Meharchand Jain at Lahore, as well as the founder of theaters, B. N. Sircar. He was the one who encouraged Saigal to go to Calcutta to kick start his career in music. To earn his livelihood there, he had to start off as a hotel manager. His passion for music made him spend his leisure time in mehfils. He recorded an album with Harishchandra Bali, which the Gramophone Co. India released. This was his first success. From there, in his entire career of fifteen years, he has recorded 185 songs of which 142 were for films and 43 for others. He has sung for musical legends of their time like Ghalib and Seemab, and has also acted in 36 feature films.
Kundal Lal Saigal is considered to be a legend in both singing and acting in the Indian film industry. As a tribute to his memory, the song, ‘Saigal Blues’, was composed in the movie, ‘
’, which was made in the year 2010 and directed by Abhinay Deo.
Saigal’s debut was through the movie, Mohabbat Ke Aansu, in the year 1932, and directed by
. He appeared last in the movie ‘Parwana’, as Inder, in 1947.
Saigal died in Jalandhar, his ancestral home, on the 18th of January, in the year 1947. He was 42 years of age at that time. The reason for his death was stated to be as alcohol consumption.
Another Version Of K. L. Saigal:
The Indian music industry will always remain indebted to this legendary playback singer for popularization of film songs to the Indian public. His melodious voice heralded a new era in film music, acclaimed as peoples’ music, which veteran playback singers like
and Mohammad Rafi too had acknowledged.
Every playback singer in Hindi film music industry considers K L Saigal as their mentor. Even playback singer Mukesh used to copy his voice, but later on developed his distinct style. K L Saigal’s self composed devotional melodies turned him into a household name of his time. He sang in variety of styles and languages- Bengali, Punjabi, Urdu, and Persian. He is also considered the first superstar of the Hindi film industry, much before
made entry into the film industry. He has so far acted in 36 feature films- 28 in Hindi, 7 in Bengali, and 1 in Tamil.
It was in early 1930’s, K. L. Saigal was noticed by classical musician and music director Harishchandra Bali who had asked Saigal to come to Calcutta, introduced him to R C Boral. It was then B N Sircar’s film studio New Theatres, who hired this genius singer and signed a contract of Rs 200 per month. During this time, Saigal had also the opportunity to meet contemporaries like
, K. C. Dey and
. Later on in 1935, Saigal played the role of ‘’Devdas’’ based on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel of the same name and which defined his acting career. The film was directed by P C Barua. Calcutta’s New Theatres made some memorable films with Saigal till 1940, after which he moved to Mumbai. He did famous Bengali films like Didi, Desher Mati and few popular films like Street Singer and Darti Mata (Hindi) in the lead roles. Besides non-filmi songs, he also recorded for Bhajans and Ghazals.
When he moved to Mumbai and had acted in more successful films one after another, he became more dependent on alcohol that affected his health and work too. It was said that he could only record a song after having liquor. He died on January 18, 1847, at the age of 42.