President (1937) – KL Saigal – RC Boral – Kidar Sharma
A young girl in the early ’60s, crazily in love with film music, always around loving adults, her ears would perk up at the least mention of ‘music’ or ‘song’ or ‘film’ as she would listen avidly to what everyone had to say about the latest film and its songs. She would listen as her much more crazily-in-love-with-film-music cousin would sing in a rather high-pitched voice (he was the family Lata Mangeshkar at age 6!) older songs, slower songs, songs that she later realized were sung by Noor Jahan and Suraiyya. She lapped them all up!
But each time the mention of KL Saigal came into the conversation, a kind of respectful silence would descend over the assembly. Different ‘uncles’ would start singing some Saigal songs in varying degrees of nasality. As KL Saigal songs played on her little transistor, she would try, desperately, to find a common ground of liking. Each time she would fail. Until later, much, much later.
KL Saigal, ladies and gentlemen, is what is called, an “acquired” taste. The length and breadth and depth of his voice can only be imbibed as you, yourself, gain the length, breadth and depth of experience, and/or wisdom.
The little girl was me. These were all my beloved family who got together at least once a week, if not more, to “chill”. And even though I had not yet acquired the taste called KLS, this song always melted my heart.
Maybe because my beloved father sang it too, and I loved his voice!
Maybe because as I grew older I recognized this as a dream that my mother had “ik bangla bane nyaara….rahey kunba jis mein saara….”.
Maybe because as I grew older I also realized that “bangla” was not a mere house. It was “home”. A home that is all-inclusive. Where all are welcome. A home that had already been created by the elders of our family. A home that had fluid walls that kept expanding to accommodate more and more. “bhandar hoye Lakshmi ke haathon mein saara”… a home with plenty.
I doff my hat to the writer here, Kidar Sharma. The music ascends as does Saigal’s voice, his wishes and aspirations for the best “home” that can possibly be built… with Vishvkarma (believed to be the Principal Architect of the world) as the builder, on a rainbow – “jis pe chad ke indradhanush par, jhoole jhoola chaand hamara”.
A Utopian home? Maybe, if one were only talking about physical brick and mortar. But KL Saigal’s voice elevates this from mere brick to an abode where hearts live together. And that’s not Utopia – right? We music lovers live in such a “home” 🙂
KL Saigal – you don’t belong to any class. You remain the Vishvkarma of singing in Hindi cinema. Aap ko mera naman _()_
Published on KL Saigal’s birthday, 04 April 2018.
Monica Kar received her BA in English Honours from the University of Delhi. She now lives in St. Charles, Missouri, where she wears several hats, including doing voluntary work as an educator and homemaker.