New annual awards in K.L. Saigals' honour

New Delhi, June 17 (IANS) To keep the memory of Bollywood's legendary singer Kundan Lal Saigal alive, a Delhi-based arts and culture organisation has instituted annual awards which will be conferred June 20.

The awards will be given in a star-studded musical tribute to Saigal, "Saaz Aur Aawaz - K.L. Saigal Night", at the Siri Fort Auditorium in the capital to late filmmaker B.R. Chopra, composer Khayyam, thespian Dilip Kumar in the lifetime category, anchor-singer Sudesh Bhonsle, vocalist Agam Kumar Nigam, music directors Shankar Mahadevan and Monty Sharma in the category of established artists and anchor-singer Akriti Kakkar in the young star category.

Announcing the awards Wednesday, filmmaker Sandeep Marwah and music composer R.P. Sinha, a retired bureaucrat, said Saigal was one of those musicians who have managed to bridge the gap between the generations with their music.

"His music still sells. The name of Saigal is synonymous with the Indian film industry which carried his music to the world," Marwah said.

Saigal reigned with a kitty of 185 songs in 1930s and the 1940s in hit movies like "Bhanwara", "Tansen", "Bhakt Surdas", "Shahjahan" and "Parwana". The years have not diminished his appeal.

Recounting Saigal's contribution to music, writer and television presenter Sharad Dutt, who has written an award winning biographical account of the singer, said: "Saigal gave a new voice to Hindi movie music. It was a golden voice that was not trained."

"His mother used to sing well and passed the gift of music to her son. But Saigal's father was dead against music, because of which the musician had to support his family and himself with jobs in the railway and in sales. He was an honest musician who even refused to take royalty from Hindustan Records and was committed."

Such was Saigal's popularity that even Lata Mangeshkar wanted to marry him.

"In fact, Lata keeps a photograph of Saigal in her prayer room and is rumoured to wear a ring owned by Saigal during recording," he said.

Saigal was born in Jammu in 1904, where his father was a tehsildar at the court of the king of Jammu and Kashmir. He took to music in the 1930s after the Kolkata-based film studio New Theatres, owned by B.N. Sarkar, hired him.

Rudra Veena maestro Ustad Asad Ali Khan said Saigal received his grounding in Indian classical music from Ustad Fayyaz Khan.

"Saigal took his taalim (training) from Ustaad Fayyaz Khan for nearly 12 years," the rudra veena exponent told IANS.

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