S P Balasubrahmanyam – A respected Indian film musician

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The inspirational legend of the Indian film industry – S P Balasubrahmanyam passed away on Friday 25 September leaving a great legacy with his body of work. He was one of best versatile singers in India and also a talented actor. He has sung over 40,000 songs in 16 Indian languages and won six National Awards. He had such a melodious and soothing voice and everyone could recognize his versatility in his singing. He was equally comfortable in happy energetic songs or sad songs. Case in point, in Kamal Hassan starrer ‘Saagar’ (1985), he rendered the energetic “O Maria” and sad rendition of “Sach Mere Yaar Hai”.

S P Balasubrahmanyam was born in Nellore in a Telugu Brahmin family. He developed interest in music at very early age. He learnt music and used to participate in lot of contests, which he mostly won. He made his debut as a playback singer in the Telugu film ‘Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramana’ (1966). Afterwards, he sang songs in all south Indian languages. He debuted in the Hindi film industry with ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’ (1981). The songs became very popular and the sad version of “Tere Mere Beech Mein” won him a National Award.

He played an important role in Salman Khan’s early career rise as he became his voice for many of his early films. They were part of many superhit songs together and eventually, they made a successful combo with the likes of Raj Kapoor and Mukesh, Shammi Kapoor and Mohammed Rafi and Rajesh Khanna and Kishore Kumar. He sang for his films such as ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ (1989), ‘Patthar Ke Phool’ (1991), ‘Saajan’ (1991), ‘Love’ (1991), ‘Jaagurti’ (1992), ‘Chandra Mukhi’ (1993), ‘Andaz Apna Apna’ (1994), ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!’ (1994) and ‘Majdhaar’ (1996).

The few of the popular tracks of their combo were “Dil Deewana” (‘Maine Pyar Kiya’), “Aate Jaate Hanste Gaate” (‘Maine Pyar Kiya’), “Mere Rang Mein” (‘Maine Pyar Kiya’), “Kabhi Tu Chhalia Lagta Hai” (‘Patthar Ke Phool’), “Tumko Dekhte Hi Pyar Hua” (‘Patthar Ke Phool’), “Tumse Milne Ka Tamana Hai” (‘Saajan’), “Dekha Hai Pehli Baar” (‘Saajan’), “Bahut Pyar Karte Hain” (‘Saajan’), “Jiye Tho Jiye Kaise” (‘Saajan’), “Sathiya Tune Kya Kiya” (‘Love’), “Yeh Raat Aur Doori” (‘Andaz Apna Apna’), “Pehla Pehla Pyar Hai” (‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!’) and “Ae Mere Dost” (‘Majdhaar’).

Talking about his versatility as a singer, today most singers are singing certain types of songs according to their strengths and comfort. As a singer, he challenged himself. He was equally comfortable in a fun song like “Diktaana” (‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!’) or the sad “Mujhse Juda Hokar” (‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!’). He had a great control over his ‘sur’ in live shows also. Just like Kishore Kumar, he could also entertain the audience during live shows where usually, he could sing in any languages comfortably. We don’t see that with all singers.

Music has the advantage of being remembered after 100 years also. Music tastes can change but the voice will always be admired. S P Balasubrahmanyam will forever live in our hearts through his songs.

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