Prathivathi Bhayankaram (P.B.) Srinivoss’s debut Tamil song was ‘Sinthanai Yen Selvane,’ a solo consoling the heroine in the film ‘Jaathagam’ released in 1951. And since then he has come a long way with thousands of film songs, devotionals and ghazals in about a dozen languages.
It was the film ‘Adutha Veettu Penn’ which gave him a big break, and all the songs he sang with S. Janaki turned out to be hits.
Music composers K. V. Mahadevan and Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy brought the best out of PBS. “They understood my strong and weak points and utilised my voice very well. They made me a world class singer”, PBS said in an interview to this paper in 2002. He always hailed the command which eminent music directors such as G. Ramanathan, R. Goverdhan and R. Sudarshan brothers and Adhinarayana Rao had over both Carnatic songs and traditional folk arts.
PBS’s asset was his proficiency in various languages. If cinema songs made him famous in South India, it was his passion for Urdu ghazals which brought him fame in North India. PBS was a regular at ‘mushairas’ (poetry symposiums). “PBS wrote couplets and poems in Urdu and would recite them at mushairas and sham-e-ghazal programmes. He used the pseudonym, ‘Sabash Kokanadi.’
“He never hesitated to show his poems to others and get them corrected,” says Ahmad Pasha, Head of Department of Urdu, Jamal Mohamed College, Tiruchi, a long-time friend of PBS.