S.P.Balasubramaniam's concert, as part of the inauguration of Chakshumathi, was a delight

S. P. Balasubramaniam has a magnetic stage presence.

It is not just his exceptional singing but the warmth he percolates, the passionate harmonic interludes, the encouragement he gives to the other musicians on stage, the manner in which he inspires his younger co-singers to match his emotion and energy levels that make a SPB concert a magical experience.

SPB enthralled, inspired and energised in a three-hour concert, organised as part of the inauguration of the Kochi centre of Chakshumathi, a charitable trust constituted to empower the blind and visually challenged through the aid of latest technologies, at the Kerala Fine Arts Hall recently.

Timeless melodies

With a repertoire of over 35,000 songs in various languages, choosing a handful for a concert often becomes tough. It then becomes usual for SPB to sing some of those timeless melodies that Malayalis have still not got over with.

So, after a solemn start with Shankaracharya's famous Shivoham, SPB got to the eternal favourites like ‘Sankara….' (Shankarabharanam), ‘Mannil indha kaadhal…' (Keladi Kanmani), Ilaya nila pozhigirathu…' (Payanangal Mudivadhillai) and ‘Malare mounama…' (Karna).

For the duets SPB had the young, talented Amritha. He kept asking the audience to support this young singer and once even patted her on her head fondly when she sang a portion of ‘Malare mounama…' brilliantly.

SPB went on to sing the semi-classical, Naushad composition, ‘Teri payal mere geet…' from the film of the same title, the superb duet with K. S. Chitra ‘Sathiya yeh tune kya kiya…' from the film ‘Love,' and the mellifluous Malayalam duet, ‘Tarapadham chedoharam…' from the film ‘Anaswaram'.

The 16-piece orchestra was brilliant. The musicians, with whom SPB constantly interacted, kept egging them on, seemed keen to give their best.

Occasional interludes with short, meaningful messages from Swami Sukhbodhananda, Chakshumathi's patron, surprisingly did not interfere with the mood that SPB and others created.

The singer who stole the thunder was Azad Yusuf Mohammed with his near-perfect rendering of some memorable Mohammed Rafi songs.

Beginning with the bhajan ‘Sukh ke sab saathi…' (Gopi), Azad breathed life into the timeless duet ‘Yu hee tum mujhase baat…' (Saccha Jhutha), ‘Apni aankhon mein basakar…' (Thokar), ‘Gham uthane ke liye…' (Mere Huzoor), ‘O duniya ke rakhwale…' (Baiju Bawra), and ‘Parda hai parda…' (Amar Akbar Antony).

In tears

The ‘Baiju Bawra' classic, the unique song that clearly establishes the range of Rafi's voice, is always a challenge for a singer on stage. After Azad finished a sensational rendering SPB came on stage, asked Azad to wait and said, “You have just listened to the best performance in this concert.” And then gave the local singer a huge hug leaving Azad in tears.

Chakshumathi will provide Daisy Training and library service of over 24,000 additional books in Daisy format to the community. All these services are free of cost for the visually challenged.