Passion for singing

As a singer, actor, dubbing artiste, TV host, music director and producer, Padmashree Balasubramaniam juggles all the roles with ease

By Vijaya Sukumar (Contributor)

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Published: Wed 23 Jan 2008, 11:19 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:08 PM

HIS IS a golden voice that has enchanted music lovers for over 30 years.

Meet Padmashree S P Balasubramaniam aka SPB, the playback singer who has reigned starred in the Telugu, Kannada and Tamil music realms for years. Winner of 6 National Awards, this gifted singer who has never been formally trained in music has sung more than 39,000 songs in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi.

He holds the Guinness Record for the most number of songs rendered by a male singer. His deep, rich, honey timbred voice full of passion and myriad emotions never fails to touch the listener’s heart. Name the emotion and he has conveyed it through his singing whether it be joy or sorrow, anger or acceptance, laughter or melancholy, mischief or sobriety.

His songs range from the extremely romantic and magical ‘Pehla pehla pyar hain’ from Maine Pyar kiya to the National Award winning semi-classical songs in Sankarabharanam in Telugu. Not satiated with emoting through his songs, this unassuming artist went on to don the mantle of an actor, dubbing artist and TV show host. Needless to say he has only seen success in all his ventures and yet manages to remain one of the most down to earth celebrities.

SPB will be sharing the stage with music legends Asha Bhosle and Dr KJ.Yesudhas at the "Three Legends One Legacy - Salaam India" concert to be held on January 25 at 8 pm. The event organised by Oberoi Middle East Events will be held at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, The Aviation Club. Entry is by invitation only.

Here in an exclusive interview with City Times SPB reveals the secret behind his youthful voice and his various avatars.

How would you describe your journey in the music industry and how much has it contributed to your evolution?

It has been a relatively smooth journey. I have had my share of ups and downs and I believe my hard-working attitude has helped me out. I never learnt music from any body, I am self taught. All my seniors have been my masters and I learnt a lot from them. Music composers, lyricists, musicians, actors, recordists and multilingual listeners have all contributed to my being up here today.

Singer, actor, dubbing artiste, TV host, music director and producer - which of these roles is closest to your heart?

Singing is closest to my heart.

You have sung in several languages, how are you able to emote so well in languages you are not familiar with?

I learnt the languages. If it was too tough, I excused myself from the singing of that particular song. I spent lot of time with the lyricist and insisted upon more takes until I was satisfied with my diction.

What prompted you to host a TV music show?

It is the finest chapter in my professional life. It all started with Ramoji Rao urging me to do a musical talent show in his Telugu channel. There was only Sa re ga ma pa at that time. I insisted that it should not be a clone of Sa re ga ma pa, but it should have a lot of academic interest and social consciousness. Ramoji Rao accepted and gave me a free hand. I am doing the show for Tamil,Telugu and Kannada channels, all put together and it’s been running for the past 12 years.

How and why did you make the transition from being a playback singer to an actor?

Well, I always thought there was a decent and good actor in me. Some of my director friends in different languages tapped it successfully. I was only accepting roles where I fit in physically and age wise.

What is the secret behind the golden voice remaining as young and versatile as it was 41 years ago?

May be my genes, blessings of my parents and the audience. It’s amazing to me too that I underwent surgery to my vocal chords twice. Doesn’t it make you want to believe in God?

Having won so many awards and titles, which one do you cherish the most?

Nothing is more than the people’s affection.

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