Thursday, February 10, 2005

S P Balu: Simply Profilic and Simple Person

Kamal Hasan was candid in confessing that being an artiste himself, his first reaction towards any fellow creative artist is of envy. However, he was generous with this fellow contemporary artist who is hugely successful, talented and very much in his domain. This is just not true with Kamal Hasan but across music aficionado’s all over globe who adore him not just for his rich voice but also for his modesty, simplicity.

This man S P Balsubramanyam, popularly known as Balu. His fans call him Simply Profilic Balu; I would prefer to call him Simple Person Balu.

In 1992, at Lata Mangeshkar’s live concert in Muscat, he was exuberant in lavishing praise on precocious talents of A. R. Rahman while introducing song from Roza (tamil). Roza was not yet released then in Hindi and not many knew much about Rahman. Despite Balu riding on the crest of popularity of ‘Maine Pyar Kiya”, He was symbol of humility on stage. The other instance was at Dakshin restaurant at Park Sheraton in Chennai. This place has live classical vocal performance. While relishing food, he was not just encouraging the artists but made sure that he had a word with them before he departed. Today, as I was watching his recorded live concert in Hyderabad - as tribute to RD Burman – made me go back to the above two incidents.

During Doordarshan days in late 70’s, on Sunday afternoon I had watched SHANKARABHARANAM - a classic movie. Despite watching movie on subtitles, riveting devotional rendition was something that I have always associated with this movie. Only later, I learnt that these renditions were by Balu who won his first national award for his songs. His arrival on Hindi movie scene was as dramatic with securing the National Award for his first song in Ek Duje Ke Liye.

His repertoire in excess of 35,000 songs over many languages has already placed him in Guinness Book of records. His quintessential voice quality ensures even when he sing Mohd. Rafi’s, Manna Da’s and RD’s songs, they don’t lose out the essence of the originality of musical composition, so different from others who either mimic the great artists or do a remix making complete hash of the originality.

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