SP Balasubrahmanyam was a true legend. His music touched all people and enriched our lives. His first song was for the Telugu film, Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna (1966), scored by music director S. P. Kodandapani. Until he was tested positive for COVID19 in August this year, he never stopped singing for films, on stage, or for small screen programs. From 1966 to 2020, he ruled the music industry.
SP Balasubrahmanyam was a singer without any limitation. Apart from singing in all the south Indian languages, he was also popular in Bollywood. SPB went on and sang in Oriya, Bhojpuri, Assamese, Punjabi, Tulu, and even in the language of the Ghonds (tribe of Madhya Pradesh)! Probably he was the only versatile singer who could accomplish so much in so many languages. SPB holds the world record in the Guinness Book for the highest number of songs.
What made Balasubramaniam different was that he was a lot different from those of the Ghantasala era, he sang not just ‘for’ the artistes, but like the artistes themselves! People could relate Ghantasala or other playback singers that preceded Balu to the artistes somehow, but Balu redefined this by his way of imitation.
When asked, he simply said that he changed his voice “slightly” only when he sang for NTR or ANR or a comedian like Allu Ramalingaiah, but then how can we not realize that he also sang in a feminine tone in movies like ‘Aadadhe Aadharam’ or ‘Madam’ or that his voice modulation changed significantly for songs such as “Junior junior…” in ‘Idi Katha Kaadu’ or even the songs in ‘Sankaraabharanam’ or ‘Tyagayya’?
His rendition of Bhagavad Gita under Puzhalendi’s guidance was his personal favorite, for the variation he has shown when singing for Lord Krishna and Arjuna.
SP Balasubramaniam was awarded for the immense talent he housed. Andhra Pradesh government’s Nandi Award for the Best Playback (male) singer has earned itself respect by being in his hands’ number of times. Between 1978 and 2005, he won the award 18 times! He even won the National Award for playback (male) 6 times! He was also honored with the third-highest Civilian Award of India, the Padma Vibushan (and most people can feel it’s much less a measure of his talent)! He was felicitated with honorary doctorate degrees twice!
Apart from winning awards for singing, SPB also won the Nandi Awards for Best (male) Dubbing Artiste (Annamayya), Best Supporting Actor (Pavithra Bandham), and Best Music Director (Mayuri).
He was a great singer, actor and he is no more now. Above all, he was a great human being with a down to earth attitude. He had always attributed his success to the music directors who moulded him as such a fine singer!
The nightingale has gone silent and stopped singing…forever.
Telugucinema.com prays that the soul of the departed rests in peace.