Even before the era of megastars like Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan, an actor who ruled Bollywood like a monarch was Kundal Lal Saigal. Besides acting, his biggest asset was his rich baritone voice. Each song that he sung turned into gold. Hence, he was the highest paid actor. But his songs earned him royalty more than his acting remuneration!
While volumes have been written about his chartbusting songs, few know about K. L. Saigal’s down-to-earth nature. A close friend of Saigal narrated an interesting episode about the singer’s humble attitude.
In an interview he said, ”Once Saigal received an invitation from country’s richest diamond merchant to attend his son’s wedding ceremony. Besides gracing the function, the diamond merchant requested Saigal to entertain the crowd with his majestic voice. For this a cheque of an exorbitant amount was sent in advance along with the invitation.”
”Coincidentally, the same evening, Saigal’s driver approached him with his daughter’s wedding ceremony invitation. With folded hands he requested Saigal to grace the ceremony. It would have been a ‘Catch-22’ situation for anybody, but not for Saigal, who least cared for money, and gave priority to humanity. Returning the cheque to the business tycoon, Saigal went to attend his driver’s daughter’s wedding ceremony and made it memorable for the baaratis by singing through the night, as if it was the wedding of his own daughter and not of his driver,” he concluded.
In yet another similar incident, Saigal was called upon as a ‘star attraction’ to promote Mehboob Khan’s film NAJMA, by giving a live performance at Mumbai’s Metro cinema during the interval. As scheduled, Saigal arrived and asked the audience if they wanted him to sing any particular song. The elite audience seated in the ‘A’ class row began requesting their songs. Saigal obliged, but soon came a voice from the back, ”Saigal Sahab, hum chavvani walon par bhi nazre-karam karen.” ( Saigal Sahab, kindly pay attention to us also seated in 25 paisa seats!)
Hearing this, Saigal immediately switched his attention to their demands and obliged.