Sunday, June 16, 2019

S. P. Balasubrahmanyam recalls his journey through weight loss



‘Bariatric surgery is safe if we can’t reduce weight through routine methods’

For an auditorium filled with people, a song rendered by playback singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam could be nothing short of magical. But SPB, as he preferred to be addressed, went beyond music. He looked back at a time when he weighed 135 kg, and spoke on life after bariatric surgery, the importance of losing weight, and emphasised the need to conserve water like never before.

“In 2012, I weighed 135 kg. You would have seen me in several programmes on several stages and in photographs. You would know the difference from then and now. From 135 kg, I have come to 96 kg, and I am maintaining it. I would not say this is less but I feel it is enough for my age,” he told the audience at the inauguration of an Institute of Bariatrics at MGM Healthcare on Tuesday.

Weight should be reduced through routine methods, he said, adding: “But due to so many reasons, if we cannot, bariatric surgery is the safest procedure. There is no need to fear.”

He recalled how almost 25 years ago, he did what no playback singer would do — undergo a vocal cord surgery. “I underwent the surgery and I am better than ever. At 73, I am able to sing pretty well,” he said.

‘Not cosmetic surgery’

Noting that bariatric surgery was not cosmetic surgery, he said that he stood as an example. “My son and I underwent bariatric surgery and we are doing well. It is not to become heroes in movies. You can avoid diabetes that is the rootcause for so many diseases, he said. “Unfortunately, only in our country, many obese persons are portrayed as comedians,” he added.

Water conservation

He raised the need to conserve water. “There could be wars for water. Conserving each drop of water is essential. Let us not leave deserts for the next generation. If they give me a bottle of water, I never leave it half with water. A litre of water costs more than a litre of milk,” he said.

Deepak Subramanian, senior consultant and clinical lead, Department of General, Minimal Access (Gastro) and Bariatric Surgery, said obesity was increasing, and about 30% of women in Tamil Nadu suffer from obesity. The institute would offer endo-bariatric procedures.

Rahul Menon, chief executive officer and Prashanth Rajagopalan, director, MGM Healthcare, were present.

Courtesy: The Hindu

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Have Ilaiyaraaja and SP Balasubrahmanyam made up after fight over royalty?

Composer Ilaiyaraaja and legendary singer SP Balasubrahmanyam are best friends who have given numerous hit songs for several decades. However, the friendship hit a sour patch with a fight over royalty. After a couple of years, it looks like the two have reconciled and decided to work together again.

In 2017, SPB, KS Chitra and his son SP Charan found themselves in a legal hassle when Ilaiyaraaja claimed royalty from them if they performed his songs on stage. When the three singers were on a musical tour in the US, Ilaiyaraaja's attorney slapped a legal notice, asking them not to perform Ilaiyaraaja's compositions.

This legal notice caused a rift between Ilaiyaraaja's friendship with SP Balasubrahmanyam. In fact, SPB gave the famous Ilaiyaraaja 75 tribute concert a miss. The concert, organised by Nadigar Sangam, saw AR Rahman, Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan in attendance.

Now, it is said that Ilaiyaraaja has another concert coming up in June. Reports suggest that SPB has volunteered to be part of the concert, setting aside their differences. After a major fight, this is the first time SPB and Ilaiyaraaja are coming together.

The concert, which will be held on June 2, will be a celebration of Ilaiyaraaja's 76th birthday. Singers KJ Yesudas, KS Chitra and Mano are said to be a part of this concert, which will be held at EVP Film City.

Courtesy: India Today

Friday, May 3, 2019

Adimai Penn: The film that made icons

As the MGR classic turns 50, MetroPlus looks back on the film that became a launchpad for singer SP Balasubrahmanyam

MG Ramachandran made three films under his banner — Nadodi Mannan, Ulagam Sutrum Valiban and Adimai Penn, which turns 50 today. From the initial promotional material, Adimai Penn too was projected as yet another MGR directorial, just like the other two films. However, it was veteran director K Shankar who wielded the baton. Originally, actors Saroja Devi and KR Vijaya were cast to play the leading ladies. In fact, they also shot a couple of scenes with cinematographer PN Sundaram. The project, for various reasons, was shelved and the story was changed.

MGR and Jayalalithaa were a hit pair back then, and in order to cash in on the box-office success of the combination, it was decided that the duo play double roles, with Ramamurthy cranking the camera. Jayalalithaa also made her singing début with ‘Amma endral anbu’, a song which she later used in her political career.

Adimai Penn was not just an iconic film, but a film that made many icons. One such was the arrival of the supremely talented playback singer SP Balasubrahmanyam in to mainstream Tamil cinema. Recalling the experience working on the film, SPB says, “I was recording a Telugu song for the dubbed version of an MGR film in AVM studios. He (MGR) was sitting under a tree during a break. Since there were no air conditioners then, the doors of the studio were kept open. MGR was said to have remarked that he liked the Telugu version of his song, and asked his assistants to check out on the singer. He was keen on using a new voice and suggested my name to music director KV Mahadevan, fondly known as ‘mama’.”

A few days after that incident, a huge car landed outside SPB’s residence and an assistant walked in and said, “Chinnavar (MGR was referred to as Chinnavar) wants you to sing for this film. So, please come for rehearsals.” During the rehearsals at MGR’s Ramapuram residence, all the industry legends were waiting for SPB, and the tune — the iconic ‘Aayiram nilave vaa’ — was explained by ‘mama’. SPB says he overcame hesitation and anxiety and “somehow managed to sing the part alongside the legendary P Susheela”.


Since the song was to be filmed in Jaipur, the entire unit was supposed to leave in a week’s time. But SPB was diagnosed with typhoid during the recording sessions. “The crew sympathised with me and I was told to attend recording only after I fully recovered. When I went back to the studio again, I assumed it would be for some other song since ‘Aayiram nilave vaa’ was supposed to be shot in Jaipur, and the unit left already,” he says, adding, “I was pleasantly surprised when mama said, ‘You remember ‘Aayiram nilave vaa’? Then, let’s record it after a couple of rehearsals’. I was in a daze, but managed to sing it. MGR listened to the song and appreciated me.”

Soon after the recording, SPB says he mustered up courage to ask MGR the reason he was retained for the same song, despite his medical condition. “He asked me if I had told my friends about the song and even sung it for them,” remembers SPB, elaborating, “He said, ‘What if they watch the film and find out that you hadn’t sung? People might think that you didn’t do a good job and that we decided not to use your voice. Since this will affect your career, I postponed the shoot in Jaipur till your recovery’.”

Choked with emotions, SPB sought MGR’s blessings. “I cannot imagine anybody else so concerned about a newcomer’s career. In fact, I recorded two more songs, which did not find a place in the final version of the film. The first was a slow number with beautiful lyrics by Pulamaipiththan — ‘Veerathile kavi ezhudhi’, which was also Chandrababu’s favourite.” The second song, ‘Thaai illamal naan illai’, according to SPB, needed more zeal, and TM Soundararajan was chosen to croon the number.

SPB says he is grateful for both Adimai Penn and Shanthi Nilayam, which released the same year. “Both the films were quoted in the first State award I received in my début year in Tamil,” he adds. Following the release of Adimai Penn, the song ‘Ayiram nilave vaa’ became so popular that Sivaji Ganesan, in a special radio programme, stated that it was his favourite MGR song.

Courtesy: The Hindu