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It is impossible for today's generation of lovers of film music to even feel the throb in the hearts of millions that the voice of K.L. Saigal, the first real super star of Indian films created. A memory that never dies, a melody that always haunts and those wistful eyes of alove lorn Devadas which Saigal portrayed, a wastrel cheated by his own elder brother out of his property, remained etched in the minds of many generations. It had not dawned on many of us of that generation gap could be a stroke of irony, a cruel piece of joke, an unpredictable quirk of changing public tastes.

Other singers sang. Saigal sang and also conversed musically. Such was his unique musical style. The ringing pathos of "Dukh kedin ab beetata nahi" is neither singing nor a conversation but both. It pierced the heart andeyes welled up with tears. So, I decided to write about K.L. Saigal without knowing if Iwould ever succeed in collecting material about his life and times easily.

Collecting information

Bit by bit, the portrait of that legendary figure got pieced up out of the haze in which the biographical details of cine celebrities get lost. The celebrity who appears like an immortaltoday fades into oblivion once the glamour that surrounds him vanishes. K.L. Saigal too suffered some such fate. It has shocked so many of his ardent admirers and fans. In that era to which K.L. Saigal belonged, tragedies of middle class existence were portrayed with artistic delicacy, in undertones, suppressed sobs, half-stifled half expressed agony, which is what life is. Those haunting scenes were lifted out of great literary classics like Devadas of Sarat Chandra Chatterji or from legends and history like the immortal singer of Moghul times, Tansen, or Surdas, the saint poet.  The rapid-fire excitability of the late twentieth century Bombay films, with fast action and crime and borrowed tunes from western pop music has added to Indian life all the vulgarity of permissive societies. It is a wilderness and cultural chaos that surrounds us now. K.L. Saigal's is not even the echo of a melody for the present generation.

Parental influence

We must remember that Hindu parents always wanted to replicate those aspects of their own authoritarian upbringing in planning the careers of their children, which they had accepted willingly without suffering. They discovered in their parents their best and trulysincerest well wishers. K.L. Saigal was a victim of all this. His father thought, and veryrightly considering the few career openings available then, that his son was wasting his lifeand years in singing, a career he pursued without any training. For such an authoritarian father it was unimaginable that a child of his should develop his own personality and preferences, ignoring all his admonitions. There was the angelic protective wing of his mother to save him. She was a gifted singer herself with her deep preferences for devotional and folk songs.

Searching the horoscope

I was not even searching the horoscope of K.L. Saigal as I thought that I would never get it. He died in 1947 and I never saw any astrologer ever discuss his horoscope or even refer to it. I met Mr. Raghava Menon, (he died in September 2001) the famous music critic, sometime in the 1988 and came to know of the biography of K.L. Saigal he had written. I got it, read it and saw the reference he had made to three astrologers in whose house Mr. Menon had seen the horoscope. These three astrologers were Yogeshwar Shastri in Moradabad, Rajgarhia in Delhi and Bannerji in Calcutta. Menon has written that he saw Rahu in lagna in all the three horoscopes with three different astrologers in three different cities. So it had to be Kanya lagna. The doubt was only about the correct degrees of the lagna and therefore of the navamsha.

K.L. Saigal was born on 4 April 1904 sometime in the evening in Jammu where his father, a Punjabi, was posted as a tehsildar. From what I knew of K.L. Saigal, I could accept his lagna as Kanya and waited to get correct birth time if it ever came. The time I had fixed was around six thirty in the evening. Then came two bits of information. Mr. Raghav Menon told me that Kanya lagna was right, as that is what he had seen at the houses of all the three astrologers he had met. The additional information available was that K.L. Saigal always carried his horoscope in his pocket and had visited some of them in the company of even Pahari Sanyal in his Calcutta days.

Then Pinky Karve, the supernormal gifted daughter of Yogi S.E. Karve, wrote to me through e-mail that Kanya lagna was right but the birth time had to be six hours and eighteen minutes in the evening. I worked on it and that is what I am using in this portrait of K.L. Saigal.


Some events of the life of K.L. Saigal was collected after my meeting Mrs. Bina Chopra, (she died in October 2001) the only surviving daughter of K.L. Saigal in April 2001.

i. His father Shri Amir Chand Saigal was a tehsildar in Jammu and after retirement settled down in Jullundhar and died after 1933.

ii. His mother, Shrimati Kesari Devi was a housewife and a good singer herself, fond of bhajans which K.L. Saigal learnt from her right from his childhood.

iii. They were five siblings, brother, brother, sister, K.L. Saigal and a brother.

iv. K.L. Saigal married in 1935 (Venus-Sun)

v. He had three children, a daughter (3 May 1937) daughter (18 January 1941) and a son.

vi. After his fame as a singer spread, the great classical music singer, Ustad Fayyaz Khan , tied a ganda, the thread round his wrist to accept him as his disciple. It could be after 1935.

vii. Died on 18 January 1947. (Venus-Sat-Rahu) Early in the morning, Saigal breathed his last. He was 42 when he died on 18th January 1947 in Jullundhar, his hometown.

Naushad, the music director, has made a wrong claim that jab dil hi toot gaya was played during his funeral procession. Smt. Bina Chopra told me that it was wrong. When in Bombay, K.L. Saigal's health had deteriorated; he expressed his wish to meet a saintly person in Jullundhar while his family members insisted on his being treated by Bombay's doctors. K.L. Saigal then told them that they could take the doctor they trusted most to Jullundhar.

On the day of his death, Moon was in Vrischika, right on the birth Moon of K.L.Saigal. Janma Chandra is a well known principle of fatality.

Features of the horoscope

a. Lagna lord, Mercury is in the eighth house with Mars hardly good for health.

b. Moon, debilitated in the third house is good for musical abilities but in mrityubhaga,aspected both by Jupiter and Mars.

c. Jupiter and Sun together in the seventh house gave him a happy marriage with atraditional Hindu women..

d. Venus, both the second and the ninth lord, is in the sixth house. The wrath of his father K.L. Saigal had to face was the well known fact of his early childhood and boyhood.

e. The most notable feature of this horoscope is the vargottama position of the tenth lord, Mercury and the eleventh lord Moon.

f. The musical potentiality in the horoscope is revealed in many ways.

i. Moon in the third house.

ii. Venus in the fourth from Moon aspecting the tenth house.

iii. Mars in the rashi of Venus in navamsha aspected by Jupiter is a promise of musical abilities.

iv. Mars in the navamsha of Venus aspected by Saturn gives love for the classical distinc-tion in life.

v. Moon and Jupiter in Meena in trimshamsha is excellent for the love of the classical, the ideal and gives a rare dignity.

vi. Then when the lagna is of Mercury and the trimshamsha lagna is of Jupiter, it is most promising for a dignified rise in life after achieving something which is valued by society.

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