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Legendary Indian Playback Singer SP to COVID-19 Aftermath!

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The legendary playback singer and composer-actor-producer, SP Balasubrahmanyam has passed in a Chennai hospital 25th September 2020, following a spirited fight against the COVID-19 disease. Even though the artiste was doing well in the initial stage serious complications developed afterwards and he had been set to the ventilator and ECMO (Extra-corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) support. His illness became extremely critical in the last two days, and finally the audio legend had to contribute in. He was 74.Born into a Telugu family in Tamil Nadu in 1946 and raised mostly in Andhra Pradesh, SP Balasubrahmanyam, known as’SPB’ or’Balu’, showed his lively interest in music from an early age, and over the years began singing in various local competitions winning prizes all of the time. He also made his debut as a playback singer for a Telugu film in 1966 in which the music score was performed by his music mentor SP Kodandopani. Within days he made his Kannada playback singing introduction and forayed to the Tamil movies in 1969, then to the Malayalam film industry in the same calendar year. SPB’s famous and magnificent musical journey started: his getting the voice of the legendary actors of Southern India like Gemini Ganesan, MG Ramchandran (MGR), NT Rama Rao (NTR), Shivaji Ganesan and to Kamal Hassan for whom he sang for Hindi movies too, Rajnikant then to the super heroes of Bollywood, from Salman Khan into Shahrukh Khan.Balasubrahmanyam attained international fame by singing for the unforgettable Telugu movie Sankarabharanam in 1980, directed by K Vishwanath. Balu was never trained in classical music, especially the Carnatic design; but he made history by adapting his singing ambience to suit the personality of a classical music protagonist from the movie. SPB won his first National Award as the top male playback singer in this movie. The very next year, that is 1981, he took the Hindi film industry, Bollywood, by storm: singing lilting numbers for Kamal Hassan from the super-hit film’Ek Duuje Ke Liye’, a picture of a first Telugu movie, where he captured his second National Award as the top male playback singer in Hindi. And SPB became the very sought-after voice in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi language movies with music directors Which Range from the legendary Ilaiyaraaja, S Janaki, KV Mahadevan to AR Rahman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, RD Burman, Ram-Laxman, Anand-Milind and others.In a career of over five decades SPB sang over 40,000 songs in 16 Indian languages. He had won 6 National Awards for his playback in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi; won 6 Filmfare awards for southern zone; he was conferred Padma Shri in 2001 and Padma Bhushan at 2011; he was honoured with the’Indian Film Character of the Year’ in 2016; and numerous other state awards from his four southern states. To get a personality of his stature the list of national awards seemed to be lesser in numbers that is largely because of the fact that the’national’ Hindi movie industry or Bollywood enjoyed much greater reach, visibility, popularity and patronage across the nation, and so, many legendary greats of southern India needed to remain content mostly with state recognition.SP Balasubrahmanyam is possibly the only Indian playback singer to have appreciated five-decade long fame without a plateau with fan following across India and the world no matter the language barriers. His greatness was in his delightfully melodious yet manly voice, his immense art of unprocessed modulationshis inborn capability to play-act with the required feelings and his inherent talent to accommodate his singing style as matches the characters/heroes of films across five primary and many different languages, such as the mythical Mohammad Rafi did thus naturally from the forties till his demise in 1980. Incidentally, Rafi had been his model singer and a true guru throughout his career, loving the Hindi film-song icon always. Maybe, for this reason that he thrived in Bollywood for more than other southern-region singers such as Yesudas and Vani Jayram. Of course, he also did possess hiatus of approximately 15 years from Bollywood, coming back just in 2013 to sing for Shahrukh Khan from the super-hit film Chennai Express. On the other hand, the excellent artiste maintained on singing-composing in southern languages until his last days.We salute the great musician and mourn his tragic demise, with the entire country as condolence messages have been pouring in from film personalities, politicians, leaders, stalwarts in all the specialist fields and his millions of fans. Aside from his singing Balu has always been loved by all for his simplicity, his lovable interactions with the public, his communicating via the media and his bright jovial nature.

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