Down Memory Lane Music

S. P. Balasubrahmanyam in nostalgic mode: 'I sat under a mango tree and cried'

S P Balasubrahmanyam  

With a career spanning over five decades, the singer par excellence still remains unmatched. Age has not withered his voice, nor has constant singing made it stale. Veteran musicologist and critic VAK Ranga Rao once said, “S P Balasubrahmanyam is a phenomenon. He has a fine voice which always sings true. He has a deep awareness, a basic feel for aesthetics of film music. Adding to all this is a raging enthusiasm; a respect for the art, which is his profession. And an open mind.”

The raging enthusiasm is still evident in the iconic singer as he nurtures young talents week after week for close to 25 years now through a popular television programme.

SPB went down memory lane recollecting his early days as budding singer. Apart from his mentor S P Kodandapani and his bosom friend and composer Chakravarthy, it was the unassuming but greatly talented music director Sathyam (Chellapilla Sathyanrayana Sastry) helped SPB evolve as a playback singer. Much before SPB sang the semi-classical songs and won a national award for Sankarabharanam (1980), Sathyam gave him song to a sing in that genre, Naaree rasamadhuri... for Prateekaaram (1969) which was considered by critics as one of his best renditions.

S P Balasubrahmanyam with Satyam

S P Balasubrahmanyam with Satyam  

“It was one of my favourite songs too,” recalls SPB, adding, “My association with Sathyam garu started with Palamanasulu (1968) and the first song I have sung for him was Aapaleni Thaapamaaye, a duet with the versatile L R Easwari at Golden Studios recording theatre. She was very popular at that time. I was unable to match to the expectation of Sathyam garu and he shouted at me saying incompetent people are coming to the industry. The studio was amidst a mango garden. Unable to bear the insult, sitting under a mango tree, I cried. The movie’s production manager Atluri Poornachandra Rao and production executive Y V Rao (both were later day popular producers) consoled me and took me to Sathyam, and chided him saying that, ‘He is a young boy. You shouldn’t treat him in such harsh way before the orchestra. Give him space to sing better’. Sathyam replied, ‘Yevarevarino theesukochi paadistaarandi. Yela... yeppatiki thelaali’ (You people bring somebody and ask me to make them sing, how... when can I complete the recording). Of course, he recorded the song again in my voice. That was my first experience with him."

“Sathyam garu had no children. He always addressed me as koduku (son) and later never recorded a song without me. He used to say, ‘naa kodukoo, naa gathram naaku kaavaali (I need my son, my voice). I have rendered many melodious songs under his baton and in fact it was his composition, ye divilo virisina parijathamo (Kannevayasu -1973) that gave an amazing turning point to my singing career," SPB explains.

“One of my most favourite songs under his composition was, naaree rasamadhuree lahari anuraaga vallari aananda jhari written by the soft spoken and good natured writer Chervu Anjaneya Sastry. At one time, there was a great demand for the song from netizens and fortunately someone uploaded it. Do you know that I sang that song with a heavy bout of cold? For some songs, such a voice suits it perfectly!" (smiles)

Some of the other hit songs he had rendered under a spell of heavy cold were Mama chandamama (Sambarala Rambabu), Kaluvaku chandrudu yentho dooram (Chillara Devullu), and the Tamil super hit song, Vetri meethu vetri vanthu for the MGR-Jayalalitha starrer, Thedi vantha Mappillai.

“Sathyam garu was not only a father-figure for me but also a friend and a guide who taught me the nuances of stylised singing and introduced me to Hindustani music,” signs off SPB.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 5:23:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/s-p-balasubrahmanyam-in-nostalgic-mode-i-sat-under-a-mango-tree-and-cried/article30998378.ece

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