When S.P. Balasubrahmanyam and family sing, you listen spell bound

‘Naanaga Naan Illai Thaaye…’ — the strains of this number turned a regular Saturday evening into a happy, nostalgic one. It was the legendary S.P. Balasubrahmanyam who did that, and accompanying him were his son S.P.B. Charan and sister S.P. Sailaja.

The singer was performing at the Founder’s Day celebrations of Sri Krishna Institutions. “This is an educational institution. And, Saraswathi is the mother of education. Hence, this number,” he said, to applause.

This was followed by ‘Sangeetha Megham’, that lovely peppy song from Udhaya Geetham.

Another level

Sailaja joined him for the iconic ‘Aasaya Kaathula’ and ‘Naadha Vinodhangal’ (from Salangai Oli in which Sailaja acted) before he went solo with ‘Idhu Oru Pon Maalai’. SPB has mastered the knack of taking every concert of his to another level with his sheer power of interaction. He was in a chatty mood that Saturday evening and narrated how lyricist Vairamuthu wrote another stanza for ‘Idhu…’, which was never used in the film. As a special treat, rendered it for the audience. Next up was ‘Ilayanila Pozhigiradhu’. Charan then came up on stage, asking the seniors to give way to the juniors. ‘Kaadhal Sadugudu’ he went, and the audience sang along. But, he was “forced” to hand over the mike to his father for ‘Mandram Vandha’. Sailaja then came on stage to sing ‘Sundari Kannal Oru Seithi’ with SPB.

Charan then requested his athai to sing ‘Thaensindhudhaey Vaanam’ with him, a lilting ode to love; timely too, as the skies outside had just turned a deep crimson.

Father and son got together for ‘Ayyayo Nenju’, smiling through the song that celebrates the first flush of love.

Some songs later, SPB sang his ‘breathless’ number ‘Mannil Indha Kaadhal Indri’. Not to be outdone, Charan left the audience breathless with his energetic rendition of his father’s immortal ‘Engeyum Eppodhum’. SPB called it a day with ‘Malare Mounama’. But, following a special request, he came back to render some verses of ‘Naan Pogiraen Mele…’

An orchestra can make or mar a concert. Chennai-based Sruthilaya was the stuff dreams are made of. Be it the instrumental interludes or the elaborate intros, they were bang on. Little wonder, they are said to be the singer’s favourite troupe!

In all, it was an evening where the audience lapped up the genuine camaraderie and good-natured ribbing on stage. Most importantly, because each one of them gave it their very best, never missing a beat.