S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, the versatile voice that conquered Bollywood

His first national award came for his work in Sankarabharanam.

September 25, 2020 10:59 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 01:12 pm IST - MUMBAI

Language no bar:  President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy presenting the national award for the best male playback singer (1981) to S.P. Balasubrahmanyam for Ek Duuje Ke Liye,   in New Delhi on April 27, 1982.

Language no bar: President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy presenting the national award for the best male playback singer (1981) to S.P. Balasubrahmanyam for Ek Duuje Ke Liye, in New Delhi on April 27, 1982.

Late legendary playback singer S.P. Balasubrahmanyam was a towering personality in Bollywood. His voice swept the Hindi heartland beginning with hits like Ek Duuje Ke Liye starring Kamal Haasan and Rati Agnihotri in 1981, through to Salman Khan’s Maine Pyar Kiye in 1989.

He was paired with legendary playback singer Lala Mangeshkar and his popularity sky rocketed since he sang the two initial Hindi songs Tere Mere beech Main and Hum Tum Dono Jaab Mil Jaye. Ms. Mangeshkar was then at her peak and SPB proved an able match, giving him instant acceptance in Bollywood.

The song Mere Jeeven Saathi added to his stardom. What got broad-based acceptance and made him famous was the National Film Award in 1981 for his work in Ek Duuje Ke Liye .


His songs later contributed immensely in establishing Bollywood superstar Salman Khan as a romantic hero during the beginning of his career in films such as Maine Pyaar Kiya, Saajan and Hum Aapke Hain Koun .

Songs such as Kabootar ja ja ja , Aate jaate hanste gaate , Aaja shaam hone aayi , Mere rang me rangne waali , Maine pyaar kiya’ and Dil deewana remain all time hits of the 1990s.


Saajan , starring Salman, Madhuri Dixit and Sanjay Dutt, saw SPB singing Bahut pyar karte hai , Dekha hai pehli baar among other hits.

He also sang for Salman in Patthar Ke Phool and Hum Aapke Hain Koun , the latter becoming one of the biggest hits in Hindi cinema that year and for many years to come with its songs Pehla pehla pyaar , Didi tera devar deewana , and the title number Hum aapke hain koun .

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Despite his star status, in the industry, Mr. Balasubrahmanyam was known for his humility and grace.

“He always had a smile on his face and the songs that he had sung are legendary,” Anu Malik recalled. Mr Malik who had a chance to meet Mr Balasubrahmanyam personally when he visited Chennai to record his songs, said, “I have yet to meet a greater human being than Balasubrahmanyam Sir. Everyone knows that he was a great singer but one should also know that he was one of the most humblest of all human beings who believed his voice does the talk.. his Hindi diction was impeccable.”

“My all time favourite is Mere Rang Mein Rangne Waali picturised on Salman Khan. A brilliant song brilliantly sung by Balasubrahmanyam Sir,” Mr. Malik said.

According to music composer Hitesh (Chacha) Mishra, Mr. Balasubrahmanyam’s best song is Aake Teri Bahoon Main Har Saam Lage Sinduri with Lata ji. His voice was very romantic and touched every heart easily. He was undoubtedly different from other playback singers. And that made him special.”

(With inputs from PTI)

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