The lilting bass voice of playback singer Prathivathi Bayangaram Sreenivas, which rendered with equal and mellifluous ease a whole range of human emotions from melancholy to romance and happiness, fell silent on Sunday.
P.B. Sreenivas, or just PBS, who was not keeping well for some time, collapsed in the afternoon as he was preparing to have his lunch, family sources said. He was 82.
He is survived by his wife, four sons and a daughter.
Born in Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, the young Sreenivas got to sing a couple of lines in the Hindi film Mr Sampath, which was based on R.K. Narayan’s novel in 1952, thanks to his father’s friend Eemani Sankara Shastry, who scored the music for the film.
While still struggling to get a toehold in the film industry, his real break came when music director G. Ramanathan gave him a chance to sing playback for Gemini Ganesan in the Tamil film Veerapandiya Kattabomman.
The song was Inbam Pongum Vennila with P. Susheela. Adutha Veettu Pen proved beyond doubt that Sreenivas was going to secure an established place in Tamil film music.
Three songs in the film — Kannaley Pesi Pesi Kollathey, Vanitha Maniye and Maalayil Malarsolaiyil —became super hits. G. Ramanathan gave him another number in Kappalottiya Tamizhan and the song was Bharathi’s ‘Kaatru Veliyidai Kannamma’.
“But it took some time for him to replace A.M. Raja as a playback singer for Gemini Ganesan, though he rendered many mellifluous songs,” said Vamanan, author and Tamil film music historian.
In a condolence message, Tamil Nadu Governor Rosaiah said Sreenivas had left his rasikas spellbound with his melodious voice, while his devotional songs carried one to the realm of divinity.
Irreparable loss: CM
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said PBS had sung in 12 languages and his voice added further mellifluousness to film songs.
“PBS can also mean Playback Singer. His death is an irreparable personal loss to me and to the film world as a whole,” she said.