by ASJAD NAZIR
LEGENDARY singer SP Balasubrahmanyam passed away in a Chennai hospital after a brave battle with Covid-19 on September 25.
One of the most prolific artists in history received tributes from all over the world, including A-list movie stars he provided the singing voice for across different decades.
According to many experts, the hardworking music icon sang more songs than any other singer in history, with some estimates being over 40,000. Many of these songs will be remembered for generations to come and with that in mind, Eastern Eye presents top 10 tracks to remember him by in chronological order, knowing there are many more musical memories he gifted the world with.
Emiyee Vinta Moham from Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna (1967): The late singer recorded this first film song of his illustrious career on December 15, 1966, and started a remarkable musical journey. This Telugu language duet introduced the world to a unique new voice in music and would be one he remained connected to his entire life. SP Balasubrahmanyam (SPB) often performed this song live, including on television, and never forgot the music director who gave him that first musical break.
Omkaara Nadhaanu from Sankarabharanam (1980): SPB won the first of his six National Film Awards for this classical Telugu language song and showed off his trademark vocal acrobatics. What made the win all the more remarkable was that he had no classical training, yet was able to do full justice to the song. The global success of this song led to more composers returning to classical-based melodies.
Tere Mere Beech Mein from Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981): After making his name in regional language cinema, SPB announced himself to Bollywood audiences with this romantic song and such was the instant impact that he won a second National Film Award for Best Playback Singer. He brought out all the emotion from the sad song and struck a chord with a whole new section of film fans who were not familiar with his unique voice.
Vedam Anuvanuvuna from Sagara Sangamam (1983): SPB had many dream combinations throughout his career, including one with music director Ilaiyaraaja and another with actor Kamal Haasan, who used his voice onscreen. He combined with both to great effect for another song that was very much connected to classical Indian music, despite not having any formal training. The Telugu language song would win him his third National Film Award for Best Playback Singer.
Dil Deewana from Maine Pyar Kiya (1989): The film that really introduced SPB to global audiences in a big way was this smash hit romantic drama. He delivered a bulk of the songs and had many standout moments on the soundtrack, including this soulful version pictured on Salman Khan, which would win him a well-deserved Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback singer. Interestingly, he would re-record all the songs for the Tamil and Telugu dubbed version of the movie.
Roja Jaaneman from Roja (1992): AR Rahman formed a lifelong partnership with SPB and started by getting him to sing the title track of his very first film. The soundtrack would turn newcomer AR Rahman into a huge star and SPB played a big part with the way he rendered this now legendary song. The tone of his voice would inspire many, including Oscar winner AR Rahman. The skilful singer would deliver the song in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi.
Hum Aapke Hain Koun – title track (1994): After Maine Pyar Kiya, SPB formed his greatest Bollywood partnership with Salman Khan and sang songs for him throughout his early success, including for this film, which would break every box office record. The mega-hit movie opened superbly with this romantic duet between SPB and Lata Mangeshkar, but had many more magical musical moments featuring the legendary singers.
Umandu Ghumandu Ghana Gar Je Badara from Sangeetha Sagara Ganayogi Panchakshara Gavai (1995): Although he was known primarily for singing in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi, SPB sang in many other regional Indian languages and won yet another prestigious National Award for Best Playback Singer for this track in Kannada. It was yet another complicated song based on classical melodies and showed off his impressive range.
Thanga Thamarai from Minsara Kanavu (1997): He teamed up with AR Rahman again to good effect for this Tamil track and became the first Indian singer to win a prestigious National Award for four different languages. He would also sing the Hindi language version Door Na Ja Mujhse and endear himself further to his Bollywood audiences.
Bharath Bhoomi (2020): This touching Tamil language track composed by Ilaiyaraaja was recorded during lockdown and is a tribute to Covid-19 warriors, including front line workers, migrants trying to get home and those battling the deadly disease. The deeply emotional song would take on added resonance because SPB was struck down by Covid-19 just months later and after a long battle succumbed to the deadly disease. But his musical treasures like this song will live on forever.