When he sings Hum Ji Kar Kya Karenge,Jab Dil Hi Toot Gaya from the 1946 movie Shahjahan,Shridhar Ranade brings legendary singer-actor K L Saigal alive. His voice has an uncanny resemblance to Saigals,and the light nasal twang cannot be missed.
Not surprising,though. The diehard fan from Pune has been practising for 35 years with a singleminded devotion each and every pause and aalap in the Hindi songs Saigal immortalised.
The Saigal signature is not only found in Ranades voice,its evident right at the entrance to his bungalow ahead of Yashwantrao Chavan Natyagruha.
A large photo of Saigal,often called as the first superstar of Indian cinema,welcomes you.
Saigals 109th birth anniversary on Thursday,April 11,was another occasion for Ranade to pay tribute. He announced that he would set up a K L Saigal Memorial Garden and K L Saigal Fan Club. I have a 20,000 sq ft plot near Mhatre bridge. Officially,it was inaugurated on August 15,last year. We have submitted our development plan to PMC. Once it is approved,we will begin building the garden, says 75-year-old Ranade,who presented a musical programme on April 11 at Manohar Mangal Karyalaya that featured songs Saigals songs as Hum apna unhe bana baithe,Do Naina Matwale Tihare,Main Kya Janoon Kya Jadoo,Katibe Taqdeer,Rani Khol De Apne Dwar. Around 400 people attended.
The memorial garden,says Ranade,will have a small auditorium where budding artistes will be given a platform to perform paying a very nominal fee. Besides,in the mornings and evenings,songs of Saigal will be played. Saigal fans can plant trees in his name, he adds.
Over 350 people,regulars at Ranades musical programmes,have agreed to register for the K L Saigal Fan Club,which will be inaugurated after a week. The club members will be meeting monthly, says Ranade.
For the last few decades,Ranade has been collecting articles on Saigal published in newspapers and magazines.
Flipping through the file,he recalls how he had become a huge fan of Saigal. When I was around 40,I was introduced to songs of Saigalji. Someone gifted me a pack of audio cassettes of his songs which had all his 135 songs. I listened to each again and again. Even today,I do riyaz of his songs for two hours, says Ranade.
Once he got to know that a publisher in Mumbai had in 1975 brought out a book on songs of Saigal. He travelled to Mumbai several times to buy it. Every time,the publisher kept avoiding him. After a few visits,the publisher said he felt sad for me and I really seem to be a genuine fan of Saigal. He wasnt sure if he had the book and asked a boy employed with him to search for it in the godown, says Ranade,adding that after a week,he got a call from the publisher that he can come and collect the book. Although the books price was Rs 1.50,Ranade gave Rs 150 to the boy who found the book.