Andhra Pradesh

SPB was not just a singer, but a multifaceted personality

Sripathi Panditaradhyula Balasubrahmanyam was born in an orthodox Telugu Brahmin family on June 4, 1946, to Sambammurthy and Sakuntalamma.

The legendary singer, popular among his admirers as Balu, had been an ardent music lover right from his childhood days, closely observing his father, a Harikatha artiste.

While pursuing his engineering course (AMIE) in Madras (now known as Chennai) in 1964, he was adjudged winner (best singer) in a local music competition, wherein legendary singer Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao was the judge.

SPB had etched his name in the Guinness Book of Records by singing 40,000 songs in 16 Indian languages.

In 1966, veteran Telugu actor Padmanabham had given Balasubrahmanyam a chance to sing in his film, ‘Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna’. The music director of the film was S.P. Kodandapani, whom Balasubrahmanyam considered his mentor and even named his recording theatre in Chennai after him.

Balasubrahmanyam was a versatile singer, music composer, actor, dubbing artiste, film producer and TV anchor. He sang for three generations of South Indian heroes such as N.T. Rama Rao, Akkineni Nageswara Rao, M.G. Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan, Rajkumar, and Vishnuvardhan and later for Krishna, Sobhan Babu, and Krishnam Raju, and thereafter (during 1970s and 1980s) for Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, Balakrishna and Venkatesh in Telugu and Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth and other heroes in Tamil.

He also sang for present-day heroes in Tollywood such as Jr. NTR, Maheshbabu, Pawan Kalyan, Raviteja and Allu Arjun.

National awards

Balasubrahmanyam made a foray into Bollywood with a bang. His popular number, ‘Ek Duje Keliye’, won him the second national award. His first national award was for the Telugu film ‘Sankarabharanam’, which he considered as his career best.

He had won four more national awards for the films ‘Saagara Sangamam’ and ‘Rudraveena’ (Telugu) , ‘Sangeeta Saagara Ganayogi Panchakshari Gavai’ (Kannada), and ‘Minsaara Kanavu’ (Tamil).

He had received seven Filmfare awards and 25 Nandi awards presented by the Government of Andhra Pradesh. He had also received the NTR National Award in 2012 and the ‘Indian Film Personality of the Year’ in 2016.

Record of sorts

Balasubrahmanyam also held the world record for recording 21 songs in one day (from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.) in Kannada for music director Upendra Kumar on February 8, 1981. He had also recorded 19 Tamil songs in one day and 16 Hindi songs in a single day, a record envied by his contemporaries.

Balasubrahmanyam had become the voice of actor Salman Khan in the 90s singing for him in most of his films.

‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ and ‘Hum Aap ke Hai Kaun’ songs had helped him establish firmly in the Bollywood. He made a comeback in 2010 with a song for Shahrukh Khan’s ‘Chennai Express’.

Balu had acted in about 75 films in three South Indian languages, which included 38 in Telugu. He had lent his voice for Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth, Anil Kapoor, Girish Karnad, Gemini Ganesan, Vishnuvardhan and Salman Khan when their films were dubbed into Telugu.

He had lent his voice to the protagonist of the film ‘Gandhi’ played by Ben Kingsley when the Oscar-winning film was dubbed into Telugu.

He had taken upon himself the task of spotting young talent by hosting ‘Paadutaa Teeyaga’, a reality-based Indian singing competition in Telugu, telecast on ETV Telugu.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 12:53:58 PM |

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