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On a high note S.P. Balasubramanium
On a high note S.P. Balasubramanium

The singer reveals little known things about himself

S.P. Balasubramaniam stepped out of an early morning flight in Kochi, got into . the car, and did what he loves to do- talk. "The flight was okay. For me business or any other class is all about the size of the seat," he laughs. "Very often I ask them to give me the adjacent seat, if it is free. As a child I was skinny, almost malnourished. Putting on weight was because of the lifestyle - not eating on time and junk food, perhaps.

"Anything not cookedat home is junk food to me."I remember Naushad saabtelling me about MohammedRafi saab. Thesinger once complained ofpain in the knees. Naushadsaab asked him to cut downon his weight, and try exercisingregularly. I rememberhow meticulousNaushad saab was with hisdaily walk - even when hewas well past eighty. I havenever tried anything. Call itsheer laziness. I used to bequite agile, despite theweight, but of late I becomebreathless when I take aflight of steps. I think I mustget working on my fitness."

Rafi saab

"I met Rafi saab onlyonce. He was recording, andI was there too recording forIlaiyaraaja. I ran to whereRafi saab was. They werehaving a break. I rushed in,touched his feet and ranback. I was told Rafi saabhad asked who that youngman was. That was the onlymeeting with the greatman."

Among his many `avatars'one that is quite surprisingis that of a dubbing artiste.And like everything else,SPB has plunged into it withunbridled enthusiasm. Aclear voice, excellent dictionand his uncanny abilityto empathise with the characterfor which he lends hisvoice, SPB is now a muchsought-after dubbing artistein Telugu.

"I enjoy it. Dubbing happenedby chance. The pujafor the film `ManmadhaLeelalu' was on, and I wentthere. They had sounded meon this possibility, but I hadpolitely refused asking themto give me songs instead.

"At the puja, , they askedme to read out a dialogue,which I did, and my voicewas recorded. They told methat I could not go back now,and had to do the wholefilm! "

SPB has been the Teluguvoice for Kamal Hassan,with `Dasavatharam' beingthe biggest challenge. "Exceptfor the three charactersthat speak English, I dubbedfor the rest, including thefemale voice. I have oftenasked Kamal why he doesnot go with his voice for thedubbed versions when hedoes it for the original Telugufilms. His reply was, whyshould he do it when I wasthere." The car draws up theporch of a heritage hotel.Stepping in, SPB stands inawe of the sea "This is wonderful.I will now relax andlisten to Naushad saab's`Kal raat zindagi.' I don'tknow how many times Imust listen to it to sing itanywhere close to the wayRafi saab has."K. PRADEEP

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