SPB's inimitable singing style at the Kamalum Naanum evening brought into focus Kamal Haasan's greatness as a performer

The crowd that converged on the Kamaraj Hall, Chennai, on Sunday, was another proof of Kamal’s power of holding his audience in thrall – power that has helped him reign supreme for nearly four decades without any sign of let up! And at the fulcrum of the celebration on the eve of Kamal Haasan’s birthday this week, was the singing legend SPB. ‘Kamalum Naanum’ was an evening of tribute organised by ABBAS/SVP. The trio of Kamal Haasan, Ilaiyaraja and SPB have made song sequences absolutely mesmerising. Hence it was a sumptuous aural feast of Kamal numbers that was served by SPB and Ganesh Kripa’s orchestra.

Minus one track for some of the numbers may be common on stage today but the Ganesh Kripa unit as a whole and the flautist and trumpeter in particular deserve mention. “They are the bhagavatars behind the success of our singing,” lauded SPB.

“Selecting the songs for the evening was anything but easy. We wanted to present almost all the songs sung for Kamal, but we had to curtail the urge,” said SPB. Nevertheless, from ‘Guru’ to ‘Michael Madhana Kama Rajan’ and from ‘Salangai Oli’ to ‘Vikram’ a commendable spread was on offer. And just the opening beat was enough for the responsive audience to cheer aloud as they at once recognised the number!

“He is 24 years and 10 months younger than I am. I didn’t help him come up in life. His achievements are the fruits of his own efforts,” said Kamal’s brother, Charu Haasan, who graced the occasion. “In fact he was the one who made me don the grease paint,” he chuckled. On the occasion Madras City Properties.com came up with an innovative salutation to the hero by launching Dr. Kamal Haasan Highway City, a project to promote residential plots. “Frankly Kamal never seeks to acquire property. Constantly pumping his earnings into the same industry that’s given him fame, my brother, more often than not, is in debt,” smiled Charu Haasan.

The energy of S.P. Balasubramaniam, whose staying power on the music firmament remains unconquerable, is a joy to watch. Every time he is on the proscenium the geniality he exudes and the rapport he establishes with the audience blend with mellifluousness to make his show an insatiable treat. SPB enjoys singing for you as much as you yearn for him to go on. The scenario was the same at ‘Kamalum Naanum.’

No Kamal function these days is complete without Professor Ku Gnanasambandham’s enlivening presence. A friend of Kamal, the man’s wit and humour as he shared anecdotes about Kamal went down well with the gathering.

The only sore point was the shoddy video output -- Kamal’s message to his friends and fans came in bits and pieces on screen and confounded not just the crowd, but Senthil, the emcee too!

“I’ve dubbed for Kamal, for his Telugu films – an honour I thank God for,” said SPB. The man who ushered in vibrancy with pieces such as ‘Annatha Aaduraar’ (‘Apoorva Sahodaragal’) also soaked you in melody with songs such as, ‘Mounamae Paarvaiyaai’ (‘Anbe Sivam’). “It’s a beautiful Vidyasagar composition. Sadly it wasn’t included in the film. Note the lyric -- Pa. Vijay deserves a big hand -- sit back and visualise Kamal performing for the song …” SPB never fails to compliment the composer, the verse writer, and the orchestra on stage. An admirable trait!

The veteran seems to have lost much weight since I saw him last. But the zest was intact!

Keywords: SPBKamalum Naanum