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Book brings alive genius of K L Saigal

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: April 3, 2019  | 13:15 IST

New Delhi, Apr 3 (PTI) The genius of K L Saigal, his timeless compositions and the golden era of Indian cinema have been brought alive in a book on the legendary singer. “Kundan: Saigal’s Life & Music”, authored by documentary filmmaker and former DDG of Doordarshan Sharad Dutt, has been transcreated in English by Jyoti Sabharwal of Stellar Publishers. Dutt won the National Award (Swarna Kamal for best book on cinema) in 2005 for the original book in Hindi. The book will be released on April 4, the 115th birth anniversary of Saigal. Archival records, rare photographs and posters of Saigal’s films in this tome, give insightful glimpses, and beckon collectors and connoisseurs. Dutt says he wanted to cogitate as to what was that luring quality in Saigal’s music - the classical facet or the popular element. “It was a resplendent blend of both these components. For chaste classical renditions tend to be dry, given its dalliance with mind and intellect. And mere popularity is jugglery of transitory pleasure that doesn’t last,” he says. According to Dutt, the litmus test of any artistic endeavour lies in the fact that even with a classical base, it invades the realm of popularity and enchants the masses. “This was the warp and weft of Saigal’s craft that immortalised his songs. At one end, he impressed the maestros, and at the other, captivated a commoner on the street. That is why his music continues to resonate and remembered with much veneration. "His unqualified devotion to the ragas and rhythm had entwined the pathos in such a mesmeric manner that it gently stirred emotions evoking sadness and melancholia became his hallmark,” he says. A unique voice and singing style that could not possibly be emulated, and an acting prowess that complemented the gifted throat, earned Saigal a distinct place in the annals of Indian cinema. A bilingual actor, he commenced his cinematic sojourn with New Theatres, and touched the zenith with “Devdas” in 1935, that was to become an all-time classic. With each successive venture – “President”, “Dharti Mata”, “Street Singer”, “Zindagi”, “Bhakt Surdas”, “Tansen”, “Shahjahan”, et al - he kept soaring to reach the skies. With the release of his maiden Bengali film “Didi”, he captured the hearts of Bengal’s cognoscenti. And his songs in Bangla received approbation of Rabindranath Tagore. An artiste, nonpareil in past or future, he became a legend in his lifetime. His repertoire in varied genres of songs, ghazals, bhajans, as also in other modes of classical style enthralled the masses, as these renditions made them laugh and cry. A film career that merely lasted 15 years, he performed in just about 36 films and rendered about 185 songs in Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Punjabi, Bangla and Tamil, thus proving the dictum that it is not the extensiveness but the intensity of those renderings that bequeaths the mantle of immortality. PTI ZMN RDS RDS

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