As Covid-19 claimed SP Balasubrahmanyam’s life on Friday, the legendary singer’s smiling face was splashed all across social media as heartbroken fans paid homage to the six-time National Award winner. He was 74. Over 40,000 songs in 16 languages, famous as Balu or SPB, he was Salman Khan’s voice in the Hindi film industry during the 90s. A favourite across the country, he was honoured with Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. Celebrities pay tributes to the great artiste.
Singer Sukhwinder Singh fondly remembers his first meeting with SPB in Chennai, “I was at AR Rahman’s studio and as he entered I bowed down to touch his feet; without any introduction or anything, he hugged me.” Interestingly, Sukhwinder’s first song with Rahman in Tamil, Lucky Lucky, was for the film Ratchagan and it was picturised on SP Balasubrahmanyam.
Rahman later introduced the two and SPB insisted Sukhwinder should pay him a visit. “I went to see him at Prasad Lab and he told everyone, right from the watchman to lyricists to composers, about the song Lucky Lucky.” This chance meeting fetched Sukhwinder an award for the song and also a chance to sing many other Tamil numbers. “He was an icon and I would always remember him.”
“SP Balasubrahmanyam ji was a true legend. He gave us songs that will remain with us forever. Dil Deewana and Mere Rang Mein Rangne Wali… his golden voice always touched my heart,” says singer Ragini Tandon, who remembers singing many of his songs. “My favourite will always be Yeh Haseen Vadiyan. He will live on through his music and remain an inspiration for generations to come,” she adds.
Shankar Sahney remembers Balasubrahmanyam as a very courteous person. “We were together at the PM’s house during last year’s Gandhi Jayanti,” says Sahney, who sang Vaishnav Jan Ko with SPB. “Among the many things that we discussed that night, he suggested that we should speak to the PM about making Sa Re Ga Ma Pa compulsory, just like ABCD, right from nursery class. He believed music could help in the emotional growth of a child. SPB is immortal; his voice would live on,” he adds.
“This year has seen a lot of unfortunate happenings. And the news of SP Balasubrahmanyam’s demise, which I heard just now, makes me even sadder. He was a versatile artiste. His first songs in Hindi with Lakshmikant Pyarelal were amazing. His duet with Lata didi was very memorable. Balu sang a lot of songs for RD Burman and was his friend. He had helped me a lot with my Tamil pronunciation in a song for Ilayaraja. The loss of such a great artiste has left a huge void in the music world,” said legendary singer Asha Bhosle.
A versatile soul
- Ingenuity or sheer finesse, SPB recorded a numbers of songs in a day. He is credited to have recorded 16 songs in Hindi, 19 songs in Tamil and 21 songs in Kannada in a single day!
- SPB also dabbled as a dubbing artist and voiced Kamal Haasan frequently in Telugu. He also dubbed for many other actors, including Rajinikanth, Salman Khan and Anil Kapoor.