Today, Google is honoring singer K. L. Saigal who is widely considered as one of the first superstars of Bollywood. Today’s doodle is designed by Vidhya Nagarajan, and shows Saigal singing with Kolkata (where Bollywood was initially based) in the background.
Kundanlal Saigal was born on April 11, 1904 in Jammu. His father, Amarchand Saigal, was a Tehsildar in the court of the King in Jammu, while his mother, Kesarbai, was extremely fond of music. Saigal started off his acting career during the talkie era (1930s). He joined the New Theatres in Calcutta, and started working at a salary of Rs 200 per month.
His acting career would span 15 years, with 36 movies in his portfolio – 28 Hindi movies, seven Bengali, and one Tamil. Some of his noted work include movies like President, My Sister, Zindagi, Chandidas, Bhakta Surdas, and Tansen to name a few.
Almost simultaneously, his musical career too kicked off. He didn’t have formal training in music, but would practise by singing at the local shrines and religious ceremonies. His portfolio boasts nearly 200 songs, including some memorable ones like Jab Dil Hi Toot Gaya, Ek Bangla Bane Nyara, and Main Kya Janoon Kya Jadu Hai to name a few. One of his most notable works include Devdas (1935), in which he not only sang the songs, but acted too.
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Saigal passed away in 1947 at an early age of 42. But his work is still remembered today, and has even gone on to inspire legends like Mohammad Rafi, Mukesh and Kishore Kumar, among others.