The voice millions cherish goes silent

Chennai: The 74-year-old who had lent voices for over five decades rights from MGR, Sivaji to Gemini Ganesan to Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan and the present generation stars, has left for the heavenly abode, plunging millions of his fans across the globe, film and carnatic music fraternity into grief.

S P Balasubrahmanyam, popularly called as ‘SPB’ in film and music circles, had sung close to 50,000 songs in 16 languages, and had also acted in several films donning the role of a father and also as hero.

Playing the lead role in the film ‘Keladi Kanmani’, SPB’s song ‘Mannil Intha Kaathal’, will be remembered for ever as he sung the lyrics thrice in a single breath.

He shot into fame instantaneously after his first film song ‘Aayiram Nilave Vaa’ in the MGR starrer ‘Adimai Penn’.

In fact his first song was `Athaanodu Ippadi Irundhu Eththanai Naalaachu’ along with L R Eswari in the film ‘Hotel Ramba’, but the film shoot was stopped midway and ‘Adimai Penn’ turned out to be his first song.

Thereafter it was all success for SPB, who was equally adept in singing carnatic, duets or devotional songs.

His songs in Telugu film ‘Sankarabaranam’, directed by K Viswanath with K V Mahadevan composing the music, made him a star singer, which was followed by legendary director K Balachander roping him as playback singer for Hindi film ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’, which saw Kamal–making his debut in Bollywood–and Rathi Agnihotri
in lead roles in 1981.

All the songs in the film turned out to be a big hit and remained evergreen. He was recipient of several awards including the Padma Shri in 2001 and Padma Bhushan in 2011, besides bagging six National Film Awards for the best male playback singer and numerous state awards.

Born to S P Sambamurthy, a Harikatha artist, and Sakunthalamma on 4 June, 1946, SPB got interested in music at a very young age.

Though he pursued engineering, his love for singing never waned and he took part in various singing events and won prizes. The entry of Ilayaraaja, who later became a music maestro, formed a superb combination with SPB.

SPB and S Janaki featured in almost all movies for which Ilayaraja had scored the music in 1980s and all became hits.

Apart from MSV and Ilayaraja, SPB had worked with almost all music directors including Deva, S A Rajkumar, Vidyasagar and A R Rahman, who penned the music for hit film ‘Roja’.


NT Bureau