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Inking the Immortal


Music is the vernacular of human the soul, I don’t know about the author of this quotation, but the quote is cent percentage true. You can’t figure out a single person who hates music. It’s a divine art, in that there are several branches, Playback singing is one among, which I love to the core, albeit I don’t know how to sing a song, and I never tried that too. Playback singing means, singing a song in the backside of a play, hence called so, but for me, the definition is rather the other way out, playback singing is one art, which actually backing a play. Explicitly, patronage a play is nothing but Playback singing. Undoubtedly, Indian film music has been heavily dependent on the art of playback singing.

Over the years, hundreds of Playback singer, who really took, still taking listeners’ souls with their melodious voices, and only few among considered to be as Legends, because of their unique way of singing, to name a few, Rafi Saab, Kishore da, Dastatten and last but not the least SP Balasubramanium. In the north, both Rafi and Kishore took the entire Film music for almost three decades, and here in south, it was by two everlasting names, whenever one enunciates those elegant names, obviously will get the oeuvre , they are none other than KJ Jesudas and SP Balasubramanium.

The above four will remain as legends forever, apart the other singers, because of their unique style and the way, they expressed the songs from their throat, rather you can say from their souls. I like all these four legendary singers, as Kishore’s yodeling is, indubitably the best and the way he changes the pitch from the ‘chest register’ to the ‘head register’, while yodeling, is a mega treat to listener’s ears, on the other hand, Rafi’s ability to generate the complete range of emotions and draw the listener into the song, mood, and character remains unsurpassed. All of this was accomplished without doing antics and frolics like yodeling, the other side, KJ Jesudas of South makes the listeners to cry and his classical knowledge speaks volume for him. And SPB, is having all the above plus an extra something, that extraordinary extra made me to decide SPB as the greatest singer India has ever produced. After a 40 years of glorious singing, still he is going strong, competing with the youngsters even at this age, and on this date, Dec 15, 2006, on his 40th year of singing, I wish to explain something about him, as an atonement, because he is not just a singer for me, as he inspired me and my career at a higher notes, and thus this blog is all about.

Inking the Immortal

Well, to all the above, before writing about SPB, my intuition is asking a question “What can I write about the greatest singer of our country SPB?” ya ofcourse it’s true that we, mortals can’t write or say anything about legendary people. Even, if I start to do that, I will run the risk of penning meaningless platitudes. Hence, to sit comfortably infront of my desktop, I start to refresh the musical journey of SPB and the way he inspired me in my career.

SPB’s mellifluous voice worked wonder for many songs and still he is raring to achieve and competing with young talents even after 40 years splendid singing. Notwithstanding, SPB is a not a classically trained singer, he surpasses all the linguistic barriers with his versatile way of singing and over 40, 000 songs in his credit, which is simply awesome. Just a cursory glance at SPB’s repertoire shows us his mind-boggling versatility. Who else could have sung songs from the movies, Sankarabaranam, HAK, Saagara Sangamam, Payanangal Mudivadhuillai, Kaadhal Ovaiyam and many to list, genres with so much fervor and effortless ease?

This effortlessness is perhaps his unique quality. Other than heavy classical songs, I have not heard a SP Bala’s song where he struggles through an octave or to convey the nuance of the song exactly as intended by the lyricist. Indeed, there isn’t a genre of south film music that is not embellished by him.

The Late 70’s and mid 80’s were unquestionably the golden age of Tamizh film music. The 1980s particularly, so is because of the simplicity, lightness, and melody of the compositions. Diverse composers like MSV, S-G, Shyam and Ilaiyaraja infused a sense of variety into the music. And fresh lyrist like Vairamuthu gave life to the songs. And SPB ruled the Singing kingdom with his melodious voice under the baton of all the music directors, particularly his works with Ilayaraja is an endless era. In nutshell, one can’t find a composer who never used SPB for his instrumentation.

Likewise, his playback singing enhanced the careers of many a star like Kamal, Rajni, Mohan, Prabhu, Salman, Chiru, VishnuVarthan, to name only a few. Till date, SPB rendering his voice to Kamalhasan, and the actor who is arguably the greatest actor, himself agreed that his career graph ascended to the greater heights because of SPB’s romantic voice. Mohan, who is one who gave most number of silver jubilees in Tamizh, despite his initial flops, profoundly dependent on the fact SPB’s melodious voice. On the other hand, SPB’s stylish and fast beat songs gave star values to Rajni, Chiru and Vishnuvarthan. Even today, it’s everyone’s view that an introduction song of SPB to Rajni and Chiru will do the magic for the film itself.
Apart from filmy heroes, SPB never denied to sing for comedy artist. There are singers, who are only accepting songs for heroes, SPB stood in the exceptional side by singing songs even to comedians like Suruli, Thengai Sinivasan, Veenradai moorthi and many. And his variation of singing while singing to these artists can’t be replicated by other singers anyway. When those comedy artists made the viewers to laugh, on the other hand, backside of the silver screen, SPB made the listeners to laugh by his comical way of singing. His comical way of singing in the songs “Engengum Kandenamma”, “Vaa Machan Vaa” and “Vaaya Vaaya” gave big plus to the music directors as well as the concerned actors.

SPB is famous for his articulation of romantic songs, and he overshadowed many counter part singers, and still made them to give their best to sing with him. Perhaps, SPB sang a song with every female singers, and the long list included with some legendary names like Lata, Asha , P. Sushila, Vani, and Chitra, but still People consider the great S.Janaki as his amazing pair for romantic numbers and who will forget their eternal duets like “Adhikalai nerame”, “Saaliooram”, “Siriya paravai”, “sandhana kaatre” and many to list. Actually, I’ve a total of seven CDs each of including hundreds of SPB-SJ duets, which are my bet time soother.

The highlights of SPB’s songs are his improvisation, modulation and cute laughing in between song, whenever needs. I came to know that many producers and composers requested SPB to laugh atleast once in song to satisfy the musical fans, for those fans, SPB’s laughing is Cherry in a cool ice cream. SPB never saddened either his composers, or his fans. His cute laughing in songs like “Siriya Paravai” and “Achamillai” are beyond the explanations and plaudits. If you are not going to title me as craze, I’ll reveal you all one thing that, I have a separate CD which includes the cute laughing of SPB in the songs!

Frequent readers of my blogs ( http://spbindia.blogspot.com/ ) on SPB, aware this fact, that, I’m always speaking and praising about SPB’s finishing touch of the songs, which is obviously one of his unique qualities, whice every of his followers are trying to follow. As an axiom, the ‘sruthi’ of any song always decided by the finishing of each line by a singer, and for SPB, this is a childplay, and he does this with an ease always. Just listen to the song “Muthumani” from “Adharmam” (not the Mano’s version, which also well sung by Mano, except the fact of finishing touch!), and listen to the lines “Kannale nee ennai Kalavdi kondaiyoo”, thus, the finishing touch while articulating the word “Kondaiyoo”, for this reason only I always use to say that SPB is the sole great and legend of Indian Film Music.
SPB is another specialty is that his voice suits to any actors, and one will virtually feels that the actor himself is singing while the chubby Balu giving the expression to the actors. Once, to a “Poomalai” interview, actor Kamal quoted like this “Balu is not singing for us, rather you can say he is acting for us”, hence, in my childhood, I was a great Kamal fan, and was thinking Kamal himself rendering all his songs, believe me or not, even today whenever that Guru’s Kamal from the aircraft calling Sridevi “Hey My Dear, Look hear, here I Say” and teasing her “Hey Baby, are you feel about me now,ahh”, I use to think it’s from the throat of Kamal, which is the success of SPB, ofcourse.

Skip the songs “Mannil Indha Kaadhal”, “Sattham Illadha Thanimai”, these breathless songs were, SPB himself disclosed as gimmick. But, generally, SPB’s breathe control, if one starts to explain about SPB’s breathe control, that explanation will be full of adjectives and superlatives with a fixed “SPB’s breathe control is”. SPB knows how to control his breathe while rendering high-pitched songs, and he knows how to pass the same, during songs. Even at this age, he is the sole kind of this technique; hence all the music directors approach him to sing this song even now, and for younger generations’ actors. For an instance, just listen, “Mun paniya, Mudhal Mazhaiya” from Nandha, for actor Surya, you will feel the same magical breathe voice of yesteryears’ songs like “Vedham Anuvilum”, that’s what the uniqueness of SPB and his breathe controlled singing.

SPB is an extrovert and he is very much energetic in stage performance and live shows, and particularly he improvises a lot in those shows. His vivacious attitude in the stage shows makes the listeners to get a high-spirited music to their ears, which is an unique quality of this person, even the maestro Illaiyaraja likes this quality of SPB.

SPB is having a separate room for his awards and accolades, and the number increases, day by day. Apart from six national awards and innumerable state awards, he has already titled with country’s one of the prestigious award “Padhamasri”, in 2001, and many to follow like Padmabooshan, Bhrath Ratna, and DSP. Actually, he is the artist, who generally not identified with awards and accolades, rather you can say, those awards are bestowed because those are given to SPB, and his Excellency of services to the music field.

Anyone can be bestowed with awards and accolades, but it’s rare to get good names and good equation with everyone and that too very difficult in the cinematic line. But, SPB, on the other hand, gained good name and equation with everyone because of his humanity. Everyone like SPB, as MSV use to say “Dei, you are not only my son, but for music too”, and Raaja always calls him as “Dhadiya” and AR Rehman consider him as his mentor, and use to call him as “GURU”, and whenever Young singers eulogize on SPB, they use to call him as “Uncle”, which clearly shows you that what a great human-being SPB is.

Another irreplaceable quality of SPB is his dedication, perfection and involvement in his profession, although he is known for his unpunctuality during recording, still he does atonement that tardiness with his full involvement and dedication during recording. He always does justice with every song, be it for a Hero, Comedian, Star valued actors and etc.

Apart from singing, SPB is known for his mellifluous music score. He was working as an assistant to the great composers like LP, Burman and some. He composed music for almost 75 movies, in which his name still remains with popularity for the musical score for the movies, ‘Mayuri’, ‘Sigaram’, and some to list.

He is an actor too, and people can’t forget his performance in movies like ‘Keladi Kanmani’, ‘Sigaram’, ‘Kadhalan’ and many. And he proved himself as an all-rounder by getting succeeded in the production of films and a successful dubbing artist.

But the above of all, SPB is known for his impeccable courtesy and great humanity. Even though he is short tempered, as every good artist is, he is very polite and very humorous in times. Everyone like him and his simplicity and humanity, I don’t remember ever reading or hearing that SPB felt the least discomfort when people (though gossip) criticized that he is monopolizing the film music scene, he never uttered a single word with frustration when people disparaged about his pronunciation of Hindi songs. But to the higher notes, these noble qualities of SPB proved him as a legend, and those noble qualities made me to consider him as my LIFE TIME MENTOR and when I have implemented my life time dream of an association to the student’s community, by considering SPB’s involvement and dedication in the field taken as one line theme, he himself praised the concept and blessed our members for the noble concept, and not only that, he launched our association’s website with pleasure. He is such a down to earth person.

Now it’s dedicated to

Today, Dec 15, 2006, he is celebrating his 40th year of glorious singing field, we don’t have ages or privilege to bless him, but atleast, as an atonement of his sweet voice, which have been soothing many of our ears, we can pray for him, that I want to do it on this day, regardless we are doing it everyday, and for ever.





SPB, you are the best, none other.

–A True Fan of SPB

S. Balasubramanian
  1. 6:56 முப இல் திசெம்பர் 16, 2006

    GR8 review Bala, Hatts of you.

  2. 7:04 முப இல் திசெம்பர் 16, 2006

    Dear Bala,I have no words left to talk about your narration.Your narration shows how much love you have for SPB and how it is overflowing and flooding the blog site.There are many who say (including myself) that we are ardent fans of SPB. Ardent & attached ,we are, but it stops with just listening to his songs forever or commenting on his virtues and joining fan clubs.You are unique in utilising the learnings you have derived from SPB’s qualities and deploying the same for your own personal growth as well as to the student community. INDEED YOU ARE THE TRUE FAN. SPB IS LUCKY TO HAVE SUC A FAN.May God bless you with all you wish for.NOTE :: I would like you to put up an article narrating your personal interview/interactions with SPB and share it ith usDasaradhi

  3. 5:48 பிப இல் திசெம்பர் 16, 2006

    He is a great soul and he should be rewardedVery nice photos _____________________Add your blog here to get more visitors

  4. 1:33 பிப இல் திசெம்பர் 19, 2006

    thalai,periya thalai ya pathi summa pinnitiye…If i have to say in DX Style( WWE followers woud understand that)” I have got just two words forya……….ennavo po”

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