By ARUNA RAVIKUMAR
Life’s journey peppered with experiences good and bad has defining moments that change its trajectory. S.P. Balasubrahmanyam chose three songs at different points in his career as these moments. ‘Ye Divilo virasina paarijathamo” was a song which marked his unique style with the right emphasis on beautifully written lyrics and emotion laced with melody striking a chord among listeners.
The iconic film ‘Shankarabharanam” which inspired the entire nation bringing focus on the beauty of Carnatic classical music was the second. The trend setting film seen by audiences all over the country ensured wide recognition bringing him a national award despite his lack of formal classical training. “I wasn’t keen to sing for “Shankarabharanam” as I was afraid that my lack of training would ruin the beautifully conceptualized film. I convinced my cousin and director of the film K. Vishwanath and it was almost agreed that an eminent classical musician would be roped in for the project. Mr. K.V. Mahadevan’s assistant Pugzhalendi was however convinced that I could do justice and he assured all concerned that he would help me get the fine nuances. The rest is history” SPB recalled humbly acknowledging a higher power that scripted his destiny.”Dorakuna Ituvanti Seva” along with other songs from the film became a rage and there was no looking back for him.
The third wondrous moment was the success of “Ek Dhuje Ke Liye” where he sang with his idol and legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar and won a coveted national award. He was extremely happy to receive it for a Hindi song being a non- Hindi speaking person. A plethora of awards followed and his house resembled a mini museum filled with numerous awards from governments, institutions, cultural organizations and international bodies. There was plenty of work on hand and he shuttled from one studio to another at times recording four to five songs in a single day. SPB however did not let work bog him down and found time to play carrom board with his family, indulge his pets ( he would say time and again how much he loved animals that were more loyal and compassionate than humans) and freak out on his great passion for cars. “I blew up a lot of money getting imported cars before they were available in India. I love big cars and have owned Mercedes cars, despite the film industry sentiment that owning a Mercedes brings ill luck. I just blew the myth” he added laughingly posing in front of his shining Mercedes car.
A middle order batsman who batted five down, SPB played for his college team in Nellore and has fond memories of practice sessions and fun moments with team mates.
A sports enthusiast who loved cricket and tennis he had a vintage collection of tournaments pertaining to both. “I never missed watching cricket matches and whenever there was a five day match in Madras I would cancel all recordings sitting down to cheer my favourites” he beamed. A middle order batsman who batted five down, SPB played for his college team in Nellore and has fond memories of practice sessions and fun moments with team mates. In later days too whenever he found time he would gather a team and enjoy cricketing moments which for him were stress busters. I laughingly quipped “You are now an All rounder” referring to his multiple talents. “I don’t know about that but I am definitely rounder” he responded with thunderous laughter.
The Beginning: A Rare Interview with SPB – Episode 1
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