Your memories will REST IN MUSIC, ardent fans of SP Balasubrahmanyam mourn his loss
Fans of the singer recall their melodious memories that will continue to live through the lengend's songs
SPB and his voice have been inseparable parts for most of our lives. His songs have been our companion in loneliness, our solace after a long day at work and our celebration during our joyous moments. Fans of the singer recall their melodious memories that will continue to live through the lengend's songs.
'Manasa Sancharare' from the Telugu Film Shankarabharanam (1980) was my first introduction to SPB Sir's golden voice and singing. I was a six-year-old when I was initiated into Carnatic music. He played a big role in my small musical journey. His 'Aayarpaadi Maligaiyil' from Krishna Ganam album was yet another childhood song that I cherish till date and play it on Janmashtami every year. I have grown up listening to his songs — be it from the movies, light or devotional. He was born for a purpose and he did it with elan. He has left behind a meaningful message for all of us on how one can be a beautiful human being even at the pinnacle of one's career and success in life.
It's difficult to label one particular song as a favourite as I love almost all his songs. However, the one that is close to my heart is 'Mandram vandha thendralukku' from Mouna Raagam. No other singer could have brought out the yearning for love in a marriage...the way he sings the prelude was enough to tug your heart strings. To this day, I go to sleep listening to his songs, it's soothing and transports you to a different world. SPB Sir is an epitome of modesty, the gold standard for excellence as a musician and an artiste, and one of the flag bearers of the golden age of music in Tamil cinema. He will be missed, now and by the future generations.
It’s difficult to choose one song especially when the legend has sung over 40,000 songs but the one song that moves me every time I hear it is 'Minnale nee Vandhadenadi' from May Maadham. The heartbreak that’s conveyed through SPB Sir's beautiful vocals, the dynamics and the modulations in this song are all so lovely that it melts your heart.
A very sad loss to music indeed. My favourite memory of SPB is from Keladi Kanmani. I loved his character of a guy who does odd jobs. The song 'Mannil endha kaadhal' from this movie is a favourite. All of us in school used to walk and try to sing the song like he did in the movie and eventually even fall down like him. May his soul rest in peace.
SPB's songs have been an integral part of my childhood, adolescence and adulthood. The first song of his that I remember listening to as a kid, which I then recorded on tape, is Enna satham from Punnagai Mannan. Kadhal Rojave from Roja was one of my go-to songs when growing up. When I wanted to be a singer as a teenager, SPB was the singer I tried to emulate the most. The emotions he put into his songs and the ease with which he sang in different styles for different heroes is something that as a fan, I've always admired. All his songs are legendary but, if I were to pick a few, it would have to be Nilave Vaa from Mouna Ragam, Konji Konji alaigal Oda from Veera, Sundari from Thalapathi, Thanga Thamarai from Minsara Kanavu, En Kadhale from Duet, Oruvan Oruvan mudhalali from Muthu, and Mannil Intha Kaadhalandri from Keladi Kanmani.
My most favourite song is Mandram Vandha from Mouna Ragam. Whether I’m happy or sad, that song really picks me up and gives me the confidence that I can do better. How can you pick one song by one of the greatest singers India, and probably the world, has seen. I mean, he sang over 40,000 songs in 16 languages over 50-odd years.
I discovered Naguva Nayana from Pallavi Anu Pallavi during the lockdown and because of that one song, I've a new found love for Kannada. Because of that one song, I started watching Vijay Bharadwaj's Kannada YouTube channel and started listening to Star Sports Kannada commentary. Just imagine the sheer impact and influence one song, one artiste can create on a human being. And for that reason, though I've a million favourite SPB songs, this will go down as the most impactful of them all. His death feels like an extremely personal loss.
It's not just a big loss for the music industry, it is a personal loss for all music lovers. For me, it is shocking. No travel journey is complete without his songs. In any get-togethers, at least one song of his will be played. We enjoyed every word that he uttered. His songs calmed me down, made me cry, smile, and evoked a host of feelings. When I'm stressed or disturbed, his songs always offer positive vibes to help me find peace. I feel I share a unique relationship with SPB Sir, thanks to his songs. My all-time favourite song is Ye Haseen Vadiyan. This song seems fresh and will never lose its sheen, just like his voice. A big salute to the legendary singer. May your soul. RIP.
I owe so much to SPB. For the past 40 years, he was there with me through music. I grew up listening to his songs. The conversations we had with friends and family members moulded our ideas and thoughts. He acted as a platform to bring us the best words in many languages. Kalyaana Malai Kondaadum Penne - what a song it is! It gives me hope whenever I'm feeling a bit low. Oruvan Oruvan Mudalaali is a confidence booster. Just listen to it and you will be ready to take on any challenge. He is going to live through his songs with us.
Almost three decades ago, when the movie Thalapathi (1991) released, I remember listening to the song ‘Sundari Kannal Oru Seithi’ on loop. With my firstborn on my lap, in a house away from the main city in Goa, I had only music and the voice of SP Balasubrahmanyam for company. I inserted the cassette in the tape recorder, pressed the play button, and was transported to a different world. Over the years, though the medium through which I hear the song has changed – from tape, YouTube to Amazon Music, the myriad feelings I go through while listening to the song remain intact. Such is his impact. A true legend, he will be missed.
SP Balasubrahmanyam Sir is the reason I developed an interest in film music singing and decided to venture into it full-time. My father, a big fan of Ilayaraaja sir, used to always play his songs and that’s when I was exposed to SPB Sir’s music too. To string emotions and express them through one’s voice is a challenge and he did that with élan and ease. My all-time favourite songs of his are Ilamai ennum poonkaatru and Minnale nee vantha thenadi. In October 2015, on the day of my birthday, I had the chance to meet him on the sets of Vijay TV’s Super Singer, where I was a contestant. I was introduced to him by the director. He placed his hand over my head, chanted a quick sloka and blessed me. These memories will be etched in my mind and his art will live on.
Padmapriya Baskaran, historian
For those born in the 70s, his was a voice we grew up with. Going with my great grandfather to Jail auditorium in Coimbatore to listen to his kutcheris live was a fantastic part of my childhood. The young engineer in a light-coloured safari suit would have the crowds enthralled with his Aayiram nilave vaa and Pottu vaitha mugamo. The different modulations and nuances he brought to a song were just brilliant! The radio era brought his voice closer to our hearts so much so that when songs by other singers came up I would change the station. The cassette era made us spend all our pocket money in getting his 80s superhits recorded and played repeatedly till the tape got cut. I remember going to a store in Ranganathan Street to record his songs in LPs. Before heading to college, while studying and in the evenings, SPB’s songs used to rule my house. His song Vaikarayil Vaigai Karaiyil and Neela Vana Odaiyil still remain a favourite. I remember waiting for the show Oliyum Oliyum on Doordarshan on Fridays at 7.30 pm to listen to his songs to be played. His songs in Sankarabharanam created a huge impact on even those who did not have any formative experience or exposure to classical music. All expressions became magnified through his magic voice — he became the medium of expression and inspiration of the generation. Be it as a singer, actor or a composer, he was a charmer through and through.
Long road trips and any travel journeys, to me, are synonymous with SPB’s songs. Recently, during a trip to Puducherry, my daughter and I were gleefully singing along to the popular Mannal indha Kadalandri from Keladi Kanmani. His Idho idho en pallavi from Sigaram (1990) is also a moving song that remains close to my heart. During the lockdown, I also happened to watch Jannal, a serial in which he acted. I was bowled over by his natural performance. Even while watching shows like Super Singer, one can witness how down-to-earth he is, always making the participants, who are decades younger than him, feel comfortable and confident. Last year, while attending one of his shows, apart from enthralling the audience with his voice and songs, he was also seen indulging in light-hearted moments with his fellow artistes, making the entire show memorable. A singer, actor, a fantastic human being, he will be missed.
I was hardly three or four years old when I was exposed to SPB Sir’s songs. My father used to record all of his songs in cassettes and play it. Songs from Keladi Kanmani and Annamalai still remain a favourite. In 2013, in the fourth season of Super Singer, I had the chance to meet him for the first time and perform Thedum Kann Paavai in front of him. He blessed me and I hugged him. After that, I have been fortunate to share stages with him and learn from him. Always encouraging younger talent and acknowledging them sets him apart. I last met him on March 9, while rehearsing for Ilayaraaja sir’s Malaysia concert. He sang 15 songs back-to-back during rehearsals, with the same infectious energy. Raja Sir and SPB Sir even joined together and sang Idhayam oru koil, while, a bunch of youngsters like me, were looking at the legends in awe. He is the reason why a lot of us came into the singing field. I was lucky to observe and learn from him. His demise is a loss and yet he has given us so much.
‘Alexa , play SPB songs’ . This is how a typical day starts for me at home. My parents go crazy for his voice even now. More than me, I can imagine how my previous generation must be feeling with the passing of SPB Sir. He was and is still their hero and idol. Being a singer myself, I can't think of any musician who wouldn't be inspired by him. When I was younger, I used to ask my father, how was SPB able to sing with such energy at his age? My dad said ‘adhan kadavul kudutha varam’ (It’s a gift from god). I am grateful that I was lucky to meet him a few times and experience the warmth that he spreads through his childlike personality. I remember being in a show where he was the chief guest for a day. He never held back from showering the participants with praises and even went to the extent of saying something like, "you sang this song better than me". The thing with great artistes like SPB Sir is that their legacy lives on forever. Their works are immortal even after they've left us. It is impossible to pick one song and call it a favourite. But some of them I absolutely love are Unna nenachen, Thedum kan paarvai, Unakenna mele nindrai, Sangeetha jaadhi mullai, Anjali Anjali, Malare mounam, Ragangal padhinaru, Nandha en nila and Thanga thamarai magale. It is difficult to imagine a world without him, without his infectious smile and kindness. Hope everyone recovers soon from this huge loss.
SPB, easily one of the most popular and loved icons of music for the old and young, sang his way to heaven. It was in 1969 when MG Ramachandran spotted SPB for his film Adimai Penn and the song Aayiram Nilave Vaa took shape. An Engineering student-turned-singer, SPB never looked back and sang thousands of songs…he was versatile and a friend for all. Today, I am reminded of one of the lines from his song, from the film ‘Udhaya Geetham’, ‘Indha thegam maraindhalum, isaiyai malarven’ (Even if my body perishes, I shall blossom through music). SPB will live on.
The staple diet of life for me especially as I work long nights is the melting songs of SPB. Vannam konda vennilave, Iyarkai ennum elaya kanni, Kadhalin deepam ondrai and Sri Ranga Ranga Nadhanin pada are my most favourite. His romantic voice for Kamal in Pattu kannam thottu kolla and many more. I also love him as a person for his remarkable ability to keep himself grounded and remain ever grateful. There are no days for me without listening to SPB songs. Sri Ranga Ranga Nadhanin Padham always evokes memories of the Srirangam temple, Vaali’s immortal lines, river Cauvery’s depiction as born in Karnataka but wedded to Tamil Nadu, and “veranna imbam edhadee” giving a life’s contentment. Megam kottattum, another favourite is a racy song that I always associate with overcoming obstacles. Do your art, come what may.