On a musical high

S.P. Balasubrahmanyam's passion for singing refuses to fade

Music, they say, is all about passion. And, noted singer S P Balasubrahmanyam has loads of it. How else can you explain his statement - "With my girth, I have a lot of trouble climbing even a few steps; but on stage, I never gasp for breath and can stand for hours together. Even I wonder how it is possible." In his long career, SPB has had done everything, from singing for top heroes to composing music to acting to dubbing. And, he managed to bring in subtleties in his voice to suit the actor emoting on screen. Ask him how he achieved that, especially while singing for top matinee idols like Rajnikanth and Kamal Hassan and he says, "I used to keenly follow their acting styles. While singing for Rajini, my throw of words would be strong and animated. But, for Kamal it used to be flamboyant and romantic." He has dubbed in Telugu for almost all heroes including Kamal Hassan, Anil Kapoor and Ben Kingsley. SPB also has fond memories of his association with singer S. Janaki. "When I paired along with her, she gave me a lot of tips that helped my improvisation. In fact, when we sang together, the healthy competition we had resulted in a great song." He believes that knowing a language helps a singer emote better. "When I first met M.S. Viswanathan, I did not know Tamil. He asked me to learn the language. I insisted that my college mates converse with me in Tamil. In two years, I picked up Tamil. Without basic knowledge of a language, a singer can only reproduce what the music director says." He fondly remembers the day when he met his mentor, music director Kothandapani, while competing at a music contest floated by the Andhra Social Cultural Club in Chennai. "But for him, I would be nothing. He noticed the spark in me and said, "If you are disciplined and work hard, I see a career of a minimum 40 years in you." And, this is my 40th year in the industry," he smiles.On his son, S.P.B. Charan, who also sang for a brief while, he says: "He wants to become a producer. I don't see any passion in him for singing or acting. But, he loves to produce movies. As a father, I encourage him." T. SARAVANAN