Mother kept us away from singing: Saigal's grandson

"We haven't done any serious singing. My mother actually kept us away. She said 'I don't want to get back to that life. I've seen enough of that.' She said no to singing," Rabinder, Chopra's younger son, told reporters.

"She never stopped us from doing anything but she never even encouraged us to take up singing. She had a different thought process and we respect it," he said, adding they had nothing to do with singing.

Some of Saigal's all-time hits are "Jab dil hi toot gaya", "Ek bangla bane nyara", "Dukh ke din ab bitat nahin", "Duniya mein hun duniya ka talabgaar nahin hun" and "So ja rajkumari so ja". Rabinder, 40, son of well-known ghazal singer Mahendra Chopra, is based in Gurgaon and works with a software company while his elder brother Parminder, 48, stays in Delhi and works with Usha Shriram.

Throwing light on the Saigal family tree, Rabinder said his "nanaji" (maternal grandfather) had three children - daughters Nina Merchant and Bina Chopra and son Madan Mohan Saigal - all of whom have passed away. "The major cause behind the death of my maternal grandparents and my mother, aunt and uncle was diabetes.

My maternal uncle had two sons who unfortunately died in a road accident, ending the family tree," he said. Rabinder said his aunt Nina is survived by three sons - Sohail, Murad and Salim settled in Mumbai, but he is not in touch with his first cousins. "We are not in touch with the family that much. Till the time my mother was there, she was in touch with a few people. After her death in 2001, that also dissolved," he said.

Though his grandfather died much before he was born, Rabinder has certainly witnessed the fan hysteria for Saigal. "I've grown up seeing the immense craze of my nanaji's fans. It's hard to believe. It still amazes me and gives me goose bumps to notice that even  63 years after his death people are as excited as they were when he was ruling the world with his singing," said Rabinder.

"Even after my mother's death, the kind of calls we got from nanaji's fans was amazing. People in their eighties still call and tell us they worship my grandfather's photograph," he added.

Remembering the time spent in his grandfather's house in Mumbai, Rabinder said: "My memories of nanaji's household come from the summer vacations when I used to go to Mumbai. We used to have our own building (Asha Bhavan, now sold) in Matunga.

"My nani (maternal grandmother) used to stay on the second floor and there used to be a huge gramophone in her drawing room. There were a lot of nanaji's belongings there like his medals, tea set, record players, spectacles and even contracts that my nani had preserved."  Some of Saigal's belongings are with Rabinder and his brother.

"My elder brother still has a couple of contract copies. We have the contract copy of 'Shahjahan' that we've preserved. We have his harmonium too," he said. Rabinder and his brother are also contemplating  releasing a collection of digitally cleansed works of their grandfather. "My elder brother has picked up all his songs from the records and cleaned the disturbance in the music with the help of software.

He has brought out the quality of the songs," he said. "Though we don't have anything concrete at the moment, we do want to release it as a complete package. We've had a word with people in HMV and they've said they will help us," he added.

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