Legendary Indian Playback Singer SP Balasubrahmanyam Succumbs to COVID-19 Aftermath!

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The legendary playback singer and composer-actor-producer, SP Balasubrahmanyam has passed away in a Chennai hospital on 25th September 2020, following a spirited fight against the COVID-19 disease. The singer-composer who dominated the film businesses of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Mumbai (Bollywood) for over five years had tested positive on 5th August 2020 and was in hospital because. Although the artiste was performing well in the first phase serious complications developed afterwards and he had been set on the ventilator and ECMO (Extra-corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) support. He did examine COVID-19 negative on September 7, 2020, but as his breathing problems prevailed, he continued to be on ventilator and ECMO support. His condition became extremely critical in the last two days, and finally the audio legend had to give in. Born into a Telugu household in Tamil Nadu in 1946 and raised largely in Andhra Pradesh, SP Balasubrahmanyam, known as’SPB’ or’Balu’, showed his lively interest in music from an early age, and over the years started singing in various local competitions winning prizes all of the time. He made his debut as a playback singer for a Telugu film in 1966 in which the music score was done by his music mentor SP Kodandopani. Within days he made his Kannada playback singing debut and forayed to the Tamil movies in 1969, then to the Malayalam film industry in exactly the exact same year. SPB’s famous and spectacular musical journey began: his becoming the voice of the legendary actors of Southern India such as Gemini Ganesan, MG Ramchandran (MGR), NT Rama Rao (NTR), Shivaji Ganesan and also to Kamal Hassan for whom he sang for Hindi movies too, Rajnikant and then to the heroes of Bollywood, from Salman Khan into Shahrukh Khan.Balasubrahmanyam attained international fame by singing for the unforgettable Telugu movie Sankarabharanam in 1980, directed by K Vishwanath. Balu wasn’t trained in classical music, particularly the Carnatic design; but yet, he made history by adapting his singing ambience to suit the personality of a classical music protagonist from the movie. The very next year, that is 1981, he shot the Hindi film industry, Bollywood, by storm: singing lilting numbers for Kamal Hassan in the super-hit film’Ek Duuje Ke Liye’, a picture of an original Telugu film, where he got his second National Award as the top male playback singer in Hindi. In a career of over five decades SPB sang over 40,000 songs in 16 Indian languages. He had won 6 National Awards for his playback singing in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi; won 6 Filmfare awards for southern zone; he was conferred Padma Shri at 2001 and Padma Bhushan in 2011; he had been honoured with the’Indian Film Character of the Year’ in 2016; and many other state awards out of his four southern countries. For a character of his stature the list of national awards seemed to be lower in numbers which is largely because of the fact that the’national’ Hindi film industry or Bollywood enjoyed far greater reach, visibility, popularity and patronage throughout the country, and therefore, many legendary greats of southern India needed to remain content mostly with state recognition.SP Balasubrahmanyam is possibly the only Indian playback singer to have appreciated five-decade long fame with no plateau with fan following across India and the world no matter the language obstacles. His greatness was in his superbly melodious yet manly voice, his immense prowess of natural modulations, his intrinsic ability to play-act with the required emotions and his inherent talent to accommodate his singing style as suits the characters/heroes of movies across five main and numerous other languages, such as the mythical Mohammad Rafi did so inherently from the forties until his passing in 1980. Incidentally, Rafi had been his version singer and a real guru throughout his career, loving the Hindi film-song icon consistently. Perhaps, for this reason that he thrived in Bollywood for more than other southern-region singers like Yesudas and Vani Jayram. Obviously, he too did have hiatus of approximately 15 years from Bollywood, coming back just in 2013 to sing for Shahrukh Khan in the super-hit film Chennai Express. On the other hand, the great artiste maintained on singing-composing in southern languages until his final days.We salute the great musician and mourn his tragic death, with the whole country as condolence messages are pouring in from movie personalities, leaders, politicians, stalwarts in most of the specialist fields and his millions of fans. Aside from his singing Balu has always been adored by all for his simplicity, his lovable interactions with the public, his communication through the media and his glowing jovial nature.

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