Mr. M V Surender
A Saigal Fanatic
On September 1, 2007 somebody who called himself saigalgfan posted the following message on RMIM
www.kundanlalsaigal.com has been upgraded to include the single largest collection of Saigal songs (168 mp3 files) including movie track versions, lyrics for over 125 songs (iTrans), ready to print bi-lingual Song Book, links to video clips of movie tracks of song sequences, the singer's horoscope and astrological charts, Fans singing Saigal numbers and much more.
I am hopeful of soon collecting and uploading all the songs 'known' to have been rendered by Saigal. Completing the Bengali section with the
remaining songs will probably take a little longer.
Suggestions if any and help in making the site more comprehensive will be welcome and highly appreciated.
Within a day or two the thread was flooded with messages. Dr. Manohar Lal Kapur emailed him promising to send him the missing songs. He was not sure how many people were sincere. He consulted Shri Hem Jain, who assured him that there were many other people who were also crazy about Saigal. Soon his efforts became know to the usual gang, the Professor, Bade Bhai Sahib (Pasupuleti), Zainuddin and others. He found about Har Mandir's monumental efforts.
Since then, he has met Dr. Kapur, attended RMIM meetings and expanded his efforts to include other 30s personalities. Following is a story of his labor of love.
Genesis of the Websites :
It all started as the quest of an individual to collect a few more of Saigal songs and listen to them in the hope of being able to sing to himself from an enlarged repertoire. Having collected a fairly large number of songs and associated resources, the urge to share the same with other ‘Fans’ led to setting up of a GeoCities website on Saigal, a free service then offered by Yahoo, sometime during 2004. Having observed the keen interest and progress thus made by Mr M.V. Surender, his son, Mr Nikhil Madani, arranged for registering a domain name and providing fully-paid-for host server facilities. Soon, support and encouragement started pouring in from several well-known music lovers and Collectors from across the globe.
Agra-based Music Collector, Late Mr Hem Chand Jain, became the self- appointed Mentor of the site, providing invaluable support and insisting that all the 170 songs of Saigal, believed to be available, be collected and posted on the site for the benefit of other music lovers. Mr Surender regrets that Mr Jain unfortunately passed away a couple of months before the last couple of these songs were finally collected and posted on the website.
Thanks to the grand vision and generosity of Mr Jain, several of Saigals rarest of rare songs found their way into this website and thus into the public domain. It is thus that the most comprehensive archive as well as a platform for on-line research and documentation of Saigal songs took shape.
For long, it was commonly believed that 170 Saigal songs were still available in the public domain or with one collector or the other. The balance 15 are movie sound track version songs, for which no gramophone records were ever issued. The film reels as well as the songs therein, were reportedly lost forever in a couple of major fire accidents which gutted the studios and godowns of the producer – B.N. Sircar’s New Theatres, Calcutta.
However, it is a matter of jubiliation for Saigal Fans that two more movietrack songs from the Bengali film ‘Jiban Maran, 1938’ became available with the surfacing of the movie itself and came to be posted on the website. Thus, 172 of the 185 songs of Saigal can now be found in the public domain at the Saigal website.
However, the pride of the website is the offering of a Bhajan song ‘Hari Binaa Kaam Na Koii…’ rendered by Saigal which was never issued commercially on gramophone record. It is to the credit of Mr Har Mandir Singh, Compiler of the monumental multi-volume reference publication ‘Hindi Film Geet Kosh’, that he retrieved the master disc of this song from the personal belongings of Saigal, long after his demise, with the blessings of his family members and digitized the same.
Mr Surender still has not given up hopes that a couple of movietrack versions of Saigal songs ‘Kis Ne Yeh Sab Khel Rachaayaa’ and ‘Main Man Ki Baat Bataaun’ from the film Dhartimata, 1938, will someday be found since the video clip (and consequently the audio recording) of the famous song ‘Duniya Rang Rangili is still available and hopefully the entire film converted to video is lying in some private archive or the other.
Several movie track versions of songs recorded directly from the film reels, for which gramophone records too were issued have also been collected. These will hopefully be posted soon on the website. With this, the project of documenting, collecting and posting all Saigal songs available upto this point of time, will be completed.
Since his is a ‘one man show’, he is yet to complete the documentation, conversion to a webpage and update the site with additional sound track version songs collected. Similar is the case with several additional songs of Pankaj Mullick and K.C. Dey collected.
somewhere in 2007-2008 two music lovers and ardent ‘fans’ of films and music created by New Theatres, Calcutta, namely, Dr Manohar Lal Kapur(seen in the accompanying photo with his car; the number plate speaks of his love for Pankaj Mullick), based in Virginia and Mr Zainuddin Vahanvaty (photo not available), based in California, encouraging Mr Surender to undertake a similar on-line research and documentation project for songs rendered by Pankaj Mullick and K.C. Dey and create a website devoted to them. Several songs from their personal collection as well as from http://hindi-movies-songs.com/found their way to the website. Ms Vijoilakshmi Ram Bhat, a music lover, provided much needed on-line support and assistance.
Apart from documentation, close to 100 songs of K.C. Dey (an additional 70 songs have been collected and will eventually find their way to the website) and 102 songs rendered by Pankaj Mullick (some more are yet to be posted on the website) out of a list of 190 put together have been shared in the public domain.
About Surender Madani :
Mr M.V. Surender, according to his own admission is an ordinary and illiterate music lover. Apparently, this did not come in the way of his getting hooked on to the heady songs of the 1950s and early 1960s, during his childhood. Strangely, he says, he was instinctively drawn towards film and non-film music of the 1930s & 1940s era, often considered to be rather ‘morbid’.
A good three decades and more of his adult life was relatively music-free, away from the radio. Life for him was all about a demanding job as a public relations and business development person in a public sector enterprise. The little discretionary time left was devoted entirely to the family and attending to domestic chores.
His chance attendance at an informal living room ‘Mehfil’ organized by architect -music enthusiast Mr Anwar Aziz where he and his wife were compelled to sing ‘whatever they could’ led to a revival of a childhood interest in music. It was thus that songs and their lyrics came to be collected for Saigal and others. Websites on the ‘Immortal Musical Trio: KC Dey, KL Saigal & Pankaj Mullick’ followed thereafter.
Today, Mr Surender fancies himself to be a singer, studiously learning from Saigal to render his songs or an occasional number from Begum Akhtar, Pankaj Mullick, Iqbal Banu, Mallika Pukhraj, Bhimsen Joshi etc. He believes, rather cheekily, that ‘knowledge’ of music (read classical stuff and the accompanying jargon) helps neither in enjoying music nor in singing as a ‘copy cat’. ‘Creating’ good music though, he admits, requires formal training and experience. His wife Mrs Jyothi Surender too enjoys singing, Geeta Dutt, Asha Bhonsle, Mukesh and other songs. Both revel in the company of amateur singers like Prof Konda Ramachandra Reddy and quite a few members of his extended family during ‘musical evenings’. As the Hon. Secretary of A.V. College, Hyderabad, Prof Reddy is seriously contemplating setting up an ‘audio archive’ to collect and preserve gramophone records.
When the children first learnt about the new-found interest of their parents in music and worst still ‘singing’, they had a good hearty laugh. Today, they are happy that their parents have interests other than bothering them !
Mr Surender and Mrs Jyothi live in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Their elder son Nikhil Madani and daughter-in-law Sabitha, civil engineers turned software professionals, after studying for MS, have settled down in Charlotte North Carolina and take care of their three year old grandson Rohun. Their younger son Aneesh Surender is dodging marriage proposals to find his roots in sports management and works in Mumbai.
Post-retirement, Mr Surender plans to work in tandem with other vintage music enthusiasts to unearth long-lost songs and help preserve the invaluable heritage.of recorded Indian music. Currently, he is using his new-found familiarity with classical South Indian music under the influence of a ‘Saigal fan’ like Prince Rama Varma, to assist a couple of enthusiastic youngsters in their quest to rediscover vintage music. His other pre-occupation is collecting film memorabilia to adorn this website - http://hindi-movies-songs.com/
A self-portrait at a heritage home in Karnataka