Singing legend S.P. Balasubhrahmanyam passed away on Friday
S.P. Balasubhrahmanyam, whose magical voice brought alive more than 40,000 songs in 16 languages in a career spanning more than five decades, passed away on Friday afternoon. The 74-year-old singer, who also had quite a few acting and dubbing credits to his name, was distinguished by his honey-dipped, melliflous voice that lent itself to acting legends like Gemini Ganesan and M.G.Ramachandran, and later to Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. His association with celebrated music composer Ilaiyaraaja spanned 50 years, with the two delivering many a memorable number. In later years, he collaborated with A.R. Rahman for many chartbusters.
For those growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, SPB — as he was commonly referred to — was the voice of Salman Khan, with the singer playing a huge role in giving Salman some of the biggest musical hits of his career. The Telegraph spotlights some of our favourite SPB albums in Bollywood...
Ek Duuje Ke Liye
SPB made his Hindi playback singing debut with this 1981 love story that starred Kamal Haasan and Rati Agnihotri. Music composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal were initially apprehensive about whether the singer could do justice to their Hindi compositions, but director K. Balachander stuck to his guns. The result was a memorable album that’s gone down in Bolly annals as an all-time classic. From Tere mere beech mein to Mere jeevan sathi, from Hum bane tum bane to Hum tum dono jab mil jaayen, this was vintage SPB. He won a National Award for Tere mere beech mein that year.
R.D. Burman chose Balasubhrahmanyam to be the voice of Kamal Haasan in this Ramesh Sippy-directed romance. SPB not only lent a special something to numbers like O Maria and Sach mere yaar hain, but also memorably collaborated with Kishore Kumar in Yunhi gaate raho. Saagar is today an album for the ages, thanks in no small measure to the man and his melodious voice.
Maine pyar kiya
This 1989 film that marked Salman Khan’s debut as leading man, also kick-started his association with Balasubhrahmanyam, with Raamlaxman’s compositions benefiting from SPB’s versatile and often playful voice. All the songs in the Maine Pyar Kiya album were sung by him. The result was a smorgasbord of hits that continue to be hummed. Aate jaate to Aaja shaam hone aaye, Dil deewana to Mere rang mein, Aaya mausam dosti ka to Kabootar ja ja ja.
Would Bahut pyaar karte hain be even half the song it turned out to be if it wasn’t for SPB’s golden voice? Nadeem-Shravan’s chart-topping score was crowned by a versatile turn from the man, who was equally at home singing the romantic Dekha hain pehli baar as well as the high-on-energy Tumse milne ki tamanna hain.
Saathiya tu ne kya kiya. If anyone even remembers the 1991 film Love, starring Salman and Revathy, it’s because of this song that continues to be on many playlists, and gets a new lease of life every now and then both in film and on TV. SPB sung all the songs in this Anand-Milind album, but Saathiya tu ne kya kiya remains the most memorable.
A.R. Rahman’s debut as composer was in this 1992 Mani Ratnam classic, whose album — in Hindi and Tamil — sold millions of copies. The soulful strains of Roja jaaneman and the sensuous romance of Yeh haseen waadiyan were both brought to life by SPB in the way only SPB could.
Hum Aapke hain koun...!
After Maine Pyar Kiya, the most memorable partnership between Salman Khan and S.P. Balasubhrahmanyam was in this Sooraj Barjatya-directed film with Raamlaxman once again scoring the music. About 12 of the 14 songs in the HAHK album, that shattered many a music sales record, was sung by SPB. Even today, we can’t have enough of the SPB-Lata Mangeshkar jugalbandi in numbers like Didi tera dewar, Mausam ka jaadu, Joote de do paise lelo and Wah wah Ramji. Our undisputed favourite? SPB’s solo turn in Pehla pehla pyaar hai.
After lending his voice to sporadic tunes like Roop suhana lagta hain and a few Salman songs, SPB took a break from Bollywood in the 1990s. He returned about 15 years later in 2013, with the title track of Shah Rukh Khan’s Chennai Express.
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