That’s how S P Balasubrahmanyam, who has been crooning for over 50 years in the industry, describes himself. With over 40,000 songs across Indian languages and several National Awards, he had a lot to say, and CE was more than happy to listen…
I stood before a microphone on December 15, 1966 and well, what can I say? Life is still kind to an untrained singer like me! I’m performing for the first-time at the Kremlin Palace, Moscow as part of my world tour this year.” His words flow mellifluously even when he speaks. His mellow manners and sweet reprimands make young singers shine on reality shows. There is no falsetto as SP Balasubrahmanyam rewinds the reels of his life.
“Kadhalin Deepam Ondru (Thambikku Endha Ooru, 1984) has to be my best song for Rajinikanth. With Kamal, there are so many because my singing and his acting are just made for each other!”
You began singing for MGR and Sivaji Ganesan in Tamil and NT Rama Rao and A Nageshwara Rao in Telugu...
(Smiles) I’m fortunate to enjoy uniform affection from my music directors, filmmakers and heroes. Sivaji came for the recording of Pottu Vaitha Mugamo (Sumathi En Sundari, 1971). I was fresh out of college and quite tense but he allayed my fears and said he will adjust his acting to my singing. I’m eternally grateful to MGR who waited three months for me to record the song for Adimai Penn (1969).
K Balachander, Bharathirajaa and Mani Ratnam had strong situations for songs in their films; it made me popular too. Recently, I recorded with Vishal Chandrashekar for director Radhamohan’s upcoming film with Arulnidhi. I am glad I’m relevant today even after 50 years. I don’t mimic an actor unless I’m singing for a comedian.
Do you have any favourite songs of other singers which you wanted to sing?
Oh plenty! And not just the male numbers, I love Ooru Sanam (Mella Thiranthathu Kadhavu, 1986) by S Janaki. Yaar Antha Nilavu (Santhi, 1965) by TMS and KJ Yesudas’s Unnidam Mayangugiren (Then Sindhudhe Vaanam, 1975) are some of my favourites. I was made to sing like Kishore Kumar in my early days but my soul connects to Rafi saab. I try to sing at least one or two such songs during my stage shows.
Singing Live is your forte and you make it seem so effortless! Is it really so?
Not at all! Even when I record, I plan every breath, pause and laugh. I hate rehearsing in front of the mike and try to minimise errors in my final take. I’m actually nervous as hell every time I go on stage. I assess the mood of my audience in the first few minutes of interaction and I begin by greeting them and my orchestra. I ensure the atmosphere around me is pressure-free. This is how I am even when I’m shooting.
Courtesy: Indian Express