Tribute to K.L.Saigal, the greatest musical genius of the 20th century, on his 72nd death anniversary today.

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With his stunning portrayal of Devdas, Saigal brought the author Saratchandra’s desperate character to life. His brooding looks, that drooping lock of hair and his mournful singing Dukh ke ab din bitat nahin made him a cult figure and Saigal became the first superstar of Indian cinema.

Kundan Lal Saigal brought music to the masses and became a legend in his own lifetime. Saigal’s god-gifted voice and his haunting melodies still continue to delight millions of fans the world over and have become a part of our heritage.

He had the marvelous gift and the heavenly voice to create out of those seven notes — sargam — a ringing rainbow of colors, full of expression of every single emotion known to man. No wonder, the elemental force of Saigal’s music stunned the great music maestros of his time like Faiyaz Khan, Abdul Karim Khan, Bal Gandharav, Pt Omkar Nath and others who were amazed at his instinctive understanding of the ragas and his regal resonant voice, with a touch of the divine. It is said that after hearing him sing a short khayal in raga darbari, Faiyaz Khan told Saigal “My dear boy, there is nothing I can teach you now that will make you a greater singer”.

As a man, Saigal was humane, modest, gracious, overgenerous and full of compassion. Least conscious of his achievements, fame, and fortune, he made no distinction between rank and class. According to a reliable source, Saigal once declined an offer of a substantial fee for performing at a wealthy household but chose to attend the function at the house of a modest employee of the Kedar Studios at Bombay.

K.L. Saigal was also a poet and a composer. He is said to have recited his own compositions though no recordings are available, except the one Main baithee thi phulwari mein, a remarkable bhajan which reveals his spiritual leanings and substantiates the statement of his cousin Chaman Puri that Saigal was a great devotee of Lord Krishna and often sang bhajans to his mother. He was also a competent composer and is believed to have composed most of his non-film music. According to Kidar Sharma, it was Saigal who set the tunes of those two famous numbers, Balam aao baso mere man mein and Dukh ke ab din bitat nahin.

Saigal has remained an icon for not only the older generation but even of the younger lot. That is why even more than 50 years after his death, his songs continue to mesmerize.

Courtesy- Shri.Pran Nevile from Tribuneindia

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Celebrating Cinema

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