Happy Birthday to S.P.Balasubrahmanyam

By - June 04, 2013 - 09:29 AM IST

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Sripathi Panditharadhuyla Balasubrahmanyam (Commonly referred to as SPB) is an undisputed pride for Film Music field in South India. With a playback singing career spanning over 40 years, SPB did not confine to singing alone. He has been highly successful as a Music director, Actor, Dubbing Artist and a TV host.  SPB is one incredible singer who sang 40,000 songs in various Indian Languages. He is the only playback singer in India who won National Awards for four languages.  He has been awarded  the prestigious government awards Padmashri (2001) and Padmabhushan (2011) as well.

Born in Konetammapeta, current day Chitoor district of Andhra Pradesh to S.P.Sambamurthy, SPB developed an early interest in Music by listening to his father and trying out writing notations too. His father incidentally is a harikatha artist , yet wanted SPB to become an Engineer. On his father’s wish , SPB joined Engineering at JNTU Ananthapur but pursued singing as a hobby simultaneously, earning much deserving appreciation at a young age.  SPB happened to earn first prize in a competition hosted by Madras Telugu Association which brought him close to the popular composer of that age- S.P.Kodandapani.

After making an entry to Tamil film music overcoming many obstacles , SPB was a leader of a music troupe which included Maestro Ilaiyaraaja in guitar.  His first Telugu song came in a Padmanabham starrer “Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna” during the year 1966. Right from then, in the midst of greatest singers like Ghantasala and A.M.Raja, SPB started being noticed by Telugu Audience. SPB was a regular for upcoming heroes such as Krishna, Sobhan Babu and so on. But the top heroes of that age, ANR and NTR preferred Ghantasala- as his voice would suit their histrionics better.

When Ghantasala era was slowly fading away, SPB was picking up his shortcomings in the way he sings. He started improving his expression, diction, and style of singing tremendously during the 70s. M.S.Vishwanathan is very much pivotal in transforming SPB as a singer with expressive voice. SPB has a unique quality of singing in a way which would resemble the acting and he used this to a great advantage.  Some of the songs sung by SPB for NTR such as “Aresukoboyi” in Adavi Ramudu resembles NTR so much- just in the voice!

K.Vishwanath’s Shankarabharanam was a milestone for SPB’s playback singing career. Being a singer who is not well versed with Carnatic Music, SPB was very doubtful about how far he could pull it off. Moreover, the character Shankara Sastry was an elderly person and SPB had to sing with a modulated voice- without losing the Carnatic Technicalities. With the help of great composer K.V.Mahadevan , SPB took it as a challenge and not only excelled in his singing but enthralled the South Indian Audience of that age. Till that time Telugu Cinema considered only Ghantasala as the greatest singer ever- started finding SPB as a new ray of hope for playback singing.  Needless to say, SPB won his first ever national award for his memorable singing in Shankarabharanam (1980).

SPB was the first choice for any music director, or the actor who did a lead role in films right from then. He even sang the popular hit “Erakkaboyi Vacchanu” for ANR- with such perfection of expressions that Telugu Audience was amazed by his skills. In short, SPB monopolized the playback singing in South India- Right from Tamil, Telugu and Kannada- and sang every language with the much needed indigenous touch.  People from AP,Tamil Nadu and Karnataka started treating him as their own for the amazing ability of SPB to bring any song to life.

SPB has been singing for all popular heroes right from the 80s- such as Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, Balakrishna,Venkatesh and the list is endless! He covered a staggering range of songs which had duets, solos, devotional, love, estrangement, sadness, sentiment, comedy, dance, western, classical and so on. The best thing is- whenever he takes up one style of singing, he does complete justice to it.  Singing expressively and diction in Telugu has always been the best strong points for SPBs playback career. He sang beside greatest female singers of Telugu Cinema ranging from Jikki, P.Suseela ,S.Janaki, Chitra and still continues to sing beside young upcoming singers such as Usha, Malavika and so on. The wonderful rapport he maintains outside his profession is another asset SPB has. His talk, enthralls the audience he even played some most memorable characters in some of the films such as O Papa Lali, Prema ,Pavitra Bandham, Premikudu etc.,

SPB is one fantastic dubbing artist who dubbed for many Tamil films starring great actors like Kamal Hassan and Rajanikanth. Telugu Audience could enjoy these dubbing films so much just because of his indigenous touch in voice- especially for Dasavatharam (2008) which had 10 different characters for Kamal, which had SPB dub for most of them. Each character is disjoint from another and he did a phenomenal job in dubbing for all of them. He even dubbed as an elderly lady for Kamal Hassan’s Bhamane Satyabhamane (Avvai Shanmugi).

SPB even hosts a popular singing show “Padutha Teeyaga” in ETV which began in 1996- in search for aspiring young singing talent. The show became highly popular and even brought many good young singers to Telugu Cinema such as Usha, Mallikarjun, Gopika Poornima, Nitya Santhoshini etc.,

During the recording of Sri Manjunatha in Telugu, SPB was singing the song “Ee Paadam” and S.Janaki was hearing the song in the studio. When SPB came out after recording, S.Janaki was in tears. She said, “Chala mandhi paadthunnaru Balu, kanee manasu tho paadagaligedhi nuvvokkadive!” ( There are countless singers who can sing. But you are the only one who can sing with heart!).
This one statement is enough to say the versatility and the mesmerizing skill SPB has – to grasp a listener’s attention towards his song!
Iqlikmovies wishes SPB a very happy birthday and a healthy year ahead with Music and singing!

Some greatest Songs in an ocean of SPB’s Playback singing career:

1. Ennallo Vechina Udayam - Manchi Mitrulu (sang with Ghantasala)

2. Ye Divilo Virisina - Kanne Vayasu

2. Nenoka Prema Pipasini - Indra Dhanussu

3.  Madhuvani lo Radhikavo - Allari bava (With P.Suseela)

4. Mrogindhi Kalyana Veena - Kurukshetram (With P.Suseela)

5. Kurrallloy Kurrallu - Andamaina Anubhavam

6. Veena Venuvaina - Intinti Ramayanam (With S.Janaki)

7. Shankara Naada - Shankarabharanam

8.  Vedam Anuvanuvuna Naadaam - Sagara Sangamam (With S.P.Shailaja)

9.  Kanne Pilavani - Akali Rajyam ( With S.Janaki)

10. Jilibilipalukula - Sitara (With S.Janaki)

11. Sumam Prathi Sumam - Maharshi (With S.Janaki)

12.  Suvvi Suvvi - Swathi Muthyam (With S.Janaki)

13. Nuvvu Leka Anadhalam - Sri Shirdi Baba Mahatyam

14. Sangeetha Sahitya - Swathi Kiranam

15. Ade Neevu - Abhinandana

16. Ninnu Thalachi - Vichitra Sodarulu

17.  Ee Gaali - Sirivennela

18.  O Papa Laali – Geethanjali

19.  Maate Raani – Oh Papa Laali

20. Naa Cheli Rojave - Roja

21. Nanu Nene Marachina - Prema Desam

22. Gagananiki Udayam - Tholi Prema

23.  Antaryami - Annamayya

24 . Uppongele Godavari - Godavari

25. Jaruguthunnadhi Jagannatakam - Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum