Most fans of commercial Hindi cinema will know singer SP Balasubrahmanyam as the voice of Salman Khan in smash hit films like Maine Pyar Kiya and Hum Aapke Hain Koun, but he is so much more than that.
The hardest working singer in film history holds the record for the most songs ever sung by an Indian artist. Having sung many thousands of songs in multiple films, the iconic singer will celebrate his 73rd birthday on June 4.
To mark the singer, affectionately known as SPB, turning a year older, Eastern Eye presents some facts about the tower of talent.
- SPB made his debut as a playback singer on December 15, 1966, for Telugu film Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna, which was released the following year.
- He came to international prominence with the 1980 film Sankarabharanam, which won him his first National Award as a singer.
- He has won an incredible six National Awards in India for songs in four languages. The Hindi language win was for the song Tere Mere Beech Mein from the film Ek Duuje Ke Liye.
- He has won Indian civilian honours Padma Shri in 2001 and a Padma Bhushan in 2011.
- According to many sources and reports, the prolific artist has sung over 40,000 songs.
- The singer has skilfully balanced a career successfully singing for the Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Hindi and Malayalam film industries for over 50 years.
- The amazing language skills served him well as he has provided the voice to A-list leading men like Salman Khan, Kamal Haasan, Rajnikanth and Anil Kapoor when their films were dubbed in other Indian languages.
- He even dubbed for Ben Kingsley in the Telugu dubbed version of Oscar-winning film Gandhi.
- SPB delivered a bulk of the male songs in 1994 film Hum Aapke Hain Koun, which became the highest grossing film in Bollywood history and remains one of the biggest selling soundtracks of all time.
- SPB once recorded 21 songs in a span of 12 hours for Kannada composer
- At one point in his career, SPB was continuously recording 16-17 songs a day in various languages, some days singing continuously for 17 hours.
- SPB recorded three songs for AR Rahman in his star-making 1992 debut soundtrack Roja, which included singing the Tamil, Telugu and Hindi versions of the songs. They have frequently collaborated since then.
- The singer has also worked as a music director for over 40 films in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi languages.
- SPB has also acted in 72 films in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada, which is more than any other Indian singer.
- In 2013, the singer returned to Hindi cinema after a gap of 15 years by delivering the title song of record-breaking 2013 release Chennai Express.
- His biggest singing idol was Mohammed Rafi.
- Perhaps most amazingly, the singer has delivered thousands of songs in various genres including classical, despite having no formal training.