Coimbatore Meet - 17 Feb 2008

Dear SPB Fans,

Here comes one more fine opportunity for me to dwell at great lengths on an SPB event. Last month had its quota in the form of an SPB-Chitra Musical Concert at Chennai and this month we were due for a real treat at Coimbatore, the event being “The Annual Meet with our Legend”. Every one of you knew that preparations were in full swing for the event that graces us once a year. The organizing committee comprising of Ashok, Seshadhri, Covai Ravee, Venkat, Priyamvatha (alias Madhumitha) & the writer of this report under the able guidance of WebMaster Giridhar and support of Mr.Ramesh (a close friend of our SPB based at Coimbatore) embarked on a mission to see that the Annual Meet was made a Grand success. As all of you are aware, this event was organized by the SPB Fans Charitable Foundation. This entity had come into existence during the last annual meet at Bangalore when it was formally launched by our SPB and it had taken some time to get things organized in forming a Committee and assigning specific roles to each member. Roles having been made clear, each member fitted the bill and carried on the tasks, decided and assigned, which finally culminated into a spectacular event on the 17th of February 2008 at Hotel Grand Plaza, Coimbatore between 3:45pm and 6:45pm. A good response from enthusiastic fans kept us all in fine spirits and in great expectations of a fulfilling time that we were to enjoy

Well, let me now go into the details of the event. The Agenda of the Meet as it came out finally is as below

1) Prayer song – by Ashok

2) Welcome Speech -  by WebMaster Giridhar

3) Photo Session with SPB coupled with presentation of memento to each participant

4) Video Show of Charity Institutions to which donations were made in the past

5) Video Show of  Celebrity Musicians speaking about our Legend

6) Break for Tea / Coffee

7) Donation of Material to Coimbatore Seva Nilayam (an orphanage)

8) Introduction of the Foundation Committee Members

9) Question & Answers Session

10) Memento to SPB

11) Memento to Press Reporters

12) Vote of Thanks by WebMaster Giridhar

As you would notice, two out of the above agenda are focused on Charity. The very purpose of the Foundation is this – to focus on doing something good to the society we live in through the inspirations & learnings  we had imbibed from the relationship with the Legend.

As a fitting start to the Event, some of the key members namely Covai Ravee & Venkat took our SPB to the Coimbatore Seva Nilayam, an orphanage for children which was located at 15 minutes drive from the venue of the Meet. Our SPB spent some time there discussing with the Head of the orphanage, an aged veteran lady at 93 years of age and also spending some moments with the children cracking jokes and bringing lovely smiles to their faces and in the process getting photographed with them.

Else where at the venue, Everyone of us were on our toes awaiting eagerly the arrival of our beloved Guruji from the Orphanage as the clock ticked past 3:30pm, the scheduled start time. Finally at 3:45, our SPB entered the venue greeting one and all at the entrance and then moving into the Hall to a standing ovation, finally to take his seat at the far end. One could sense the air filled with unexpressable happiness and joy and thrill at the sight of HIM.

Immediately, Ashok moved to take over the stage and started singing a prayer song and the entire audience stood up as a mark of respect.

Once this was over, our WebMaster Giridhar Raja went on to make the Welcome Address. He started off by welcoming our SPB and mentioned that HE had come to the event inspite of his severe ill-health since the last one week and that showed his attachment to the fans. HE also went further in elaborating the objective of the Meet saying that the prime purpose was to publicise the activities of the SPB Fans Charitable Foundation and gain wider reach among the people so that its goals of serving the society could be realized fully in the near future. He then listed out the activities being conducted by the Foundation namely the charities to social institutions like Orphanages, Old Age Homes and Schools for Special Children, the Blood Donation Camps and the Annual Meets for the Fans to meet with SPB to interact with him and receive his blessings.

This was followed by a Photo session with the Legend. This was planned well, in the sense, that the format was a group of 3 to 4 persons taking photos as a group so that it would save valuable time which could be spent better on interactions with the Great Human Being. Our Guruji exhibited the humourous side of his personality when he joked at many instances during the photography session. One could find him saying “Here is the man who is fit enough to be my friend”. This was when Ramesh (his close friend based at Coimbatore) and his family came on to the stage to get photographed. The crux was Ramesh resembled our Guruji very much in physical size. This created a ripple of laughter in the audience. The next was when he played around refusing to handover the memento (a multi-purpose handbag with SPB Fans Charitable Foundation printed on it) to one of the children and taking a while to give it. The other one was when a tonsured headed man (my friend who had accompanied me to the Meet) came on for the photo-session he remarked “straight from thirupathi eh!!”. There were many such lovely moments and all this considering his poor health was something extra-ordinary which expressed his love for us fans. The Committee Members of the Foundation also had the privilege of taking a special photograph with HIM.

Pleasantaries having been completed, next was time for some serious business. A video presentation of one Orphanage and one School for Special Children were shown. The orphanage was “Samarpana” and it had the head of the institutions speaking on their activities and the help that the SPB Fans Group had rendered by donating utilities to them in the year 2006. They thanked the Fans for their contributions. Next, we had Dr.Ambika of RASA (A school for Special Children at Abhiramapuram, Chennai) talking about the use of theratrics and Music in dealing with specially challenged children. She went on to say that she had done extensive research on the use of theatrics and music in improving the abilities of the Special Children and it was quite fitting that the SPB Fans Charitable Foundation which is associated with the Music Legend SPB should be helping them in their service to the Society. She thanked the Foundation for its contributions.

Next followed the Video Presentation of the Interviews with Chitra-ji, Tablist Prasad & Shri.Balamurali Krishna. Chitra-ji appeared quite thrilled speaking about the LEGEND. She had a lot to tell about her happy times with HIM. She said that he was always a very jolly person and whatever tension or seriousness in the atmosphere would be dispelled by him through his enterprising presence. HE ensured that everyone had a good time recording the songs. She also admired the importance HE gave to friendship, Normally one tends to forget old friends on reaching a high stature in life but it was not so with HIM. He always had his old set of friends with him and at every place he visited, he had friends and maintained the relationship over time. This she said was very rare in popular personalities and she envied him for that. She went on to narrate her first meeting with our SPB. It was for first Duet with him for the Tamil Film “Punnagai Mannan”, the song being “kaala kaalamaaga vaazhum kaadhalukku…”.Till then, she had not met him and she arrived at the recording studio a bit late. It seems our SPB was already there, ready with his part of the song and she felt embarrassed that she had been late. She also said that it was SPB who had taught her Telugu and also the methods to beautify a song with delicate touches. One funny incident which she narrated bought out the childish & naughty side of our Guruji. She had gone for a recording of a Telugu song with our SPB. At that time, she had not learnt Telugu. To help her , our Guruji had written down her portion of the lyrics for her and had explained her how to sing it. When the recording started and they started singing, she found that the entire recording team was having a hearty laugh at her part of the rendition. She said she was quite confused at that and she also found SPB turning his face away and also having hearty laugh. This she said, prompted her to look at the lyrics to check if she had sung something wrong. She had found that it was OK and was not sure what was wrong with her singing. Then our SPB excused himself to the entire team. Later she understood that SPB had written  words like idiot, fool and so on in her lyrics and she in turn had been singing it seriously thinking it was the original lyrics and that SPB was trying to help her out. Then she had understood the reason for their laughter. She said that she was quite surprised because he had inserted words to match the tune perfectly and one would never hae any doubts at all -  what a naughty man, our LEGEND. She then went on to tell that at first she was hesitant to agree for the interview as her understanding of a Fans Association was that they would fight whenever some one passed a bad comment on their idol .She said she was relieved to learn that the SPB Fans Foundation was into doing good activities for the society. She ended her part by praying to GOD to give our Guruji lots and lots of good health to continue singing many more good songs in the future also.  Next was Tablist Prasad who had been associated with him right from the early 70s. He said it was always great fun being in a recording with our Legend for they had good times trying to excel each and acknowledged each other very well. One would remember that Shri Prasad was one of the judges in Ennodu Paattu Paadungal program aired on Jaya TV. He went on to list some of the SPB songs for which he had played tabla. Next was the GREAT and renowned Carnatic singer Shri Bala Murali Krishna. He really touched our hearts when he said that SPB was his KUZHANDHAI (CHILD). He further touched us when he said that their relationship was that of a FATHER & CHILD and he maintained this throughout his talk. He blessed our Guruji abundantly and went on to say that there was nothing that our Guruji could not do. Be it any type of song, he could render it with ease and accomplishment, he said. Be it a romantic song, a pathos song or a boisterous song or one that required Carnatic touches, it was only possible by HIM. He said this was not possible for others. Even though he said it was not right for a FATHER to praise his CHILD, he could not control himself from doing so. HE said that his CHILD’s good health was his own health. He said his CHILD’s accomplishments were his accomplishments. He wanted his CHILD to cut down on his assignments and maintain good health for he was overworking which is not good for one’s health. Right through his speech, he maintained this trend and one got a feeling that this was a real & unique FATHER-CHILD pair. One could also observe that our SPB was really humbled by his FATHER’s words and blessings. He was constantly holding up his hands to the Maestro on the Screen whenever he said the touching words. Once could feel that he must have been happy to hear soothing words from a person he respected so much. Shri Bala Murali Krishna’s words were indeed unique and we should thank Ashok, Seshadri & Madhu for having taken the initiative to get his appointment and record the interview with him for all of us and for our GURUJI who will indeed cherish each word that was said.

A short commercial break was announced by the WebMaster Mr.Giridhar for Tea / Coffee and everyone accompanied the LEGEND to the hall where it was served and they had a jolly time clicking of the cameras and storing his image on mobiles & cameras

When the program resumed, it was time for our LEGEND to handover the samples of utilities like trunk cases, emergency lamps etc…. as a token presentation to the small team from the Coimbatore Seva Nilayam. All the articles had been pre-delivered to the Seva Nilayam one day in advance and our GURUJI had a look at it during his visit there before the start of the Meet (as detailed before in this write-up).

Next followed the introduction of the Foundation Committee Members Seshadri, Ashok, Madhumitha & Dasaradhi (the writer of this write-up) to SPB and the gathering. The members received the memento from the LEGEND and in the process were also photographed with him. To give you a brief about the roles of the Committee Members – Seshadri’s role is event management being it concerts or Annual meets, Ashok’s role is accounts management and coordination, Madhumitha’s role is to maintain & increase membership database and Dasaradhi’s role is Website Maintenance / communication to the Groups / Printing stationeries

What came next was the much awaited Question & Answers session for this was the one which involved the active participation of the Legend and the Fans. I will list some of the unique question and answers that I am able to recollect (for each question e explained in very great lengths but I am not able to capture everything here as I was just enjoying the feeling being there with him and could not recollect detail by detail – pls excuse me for that – maybe other fans can elaborate on this after reading this article)

FAN QUESTION 1 : Do you think that the present relationship between YOU and the Fans Group has a link to the previous Birth ?

SPB ANSWER 1 : Yes, I think so. Otherwise, how can one explain this phenomenon of so many persons showering their affection and love on me. This could not have happened without some carry over from the previous birth. Maybe in the previous birth, we ALL were a part of a big dynasty with a king and maybe I was one of the subjects. This birth, maybe, it has been reversed and I am at the helm with you ALL loving and showing affection.

FAN QUESTION 2: Do you think only singing is your life ?

SPB ANSWER 2 : No, I would not say that. Of course singing forms a major part of life, no doubt, but that is not all. There are other things in my life like my family, friends etc… who form the other part of my life. Of course singing has given me my income, fame and popularity. Imagine, if I was not a singer, I would have a listless entity. Imagine that I was an office going guy and walking on a road. What would people say. "there goes the DHADIYAN (Fat Man)…” (everyone has a hearty laugh). But being a singer, it is something different. People respect me and have a high regard for me. In fact, my first aim in life was to become an engineer. That is what my father wanted me to be and he had strived all through his life to see that I am one. But the director above (GOD) had written a different screen play for me and here I am, in front of you experiencing all you love and affection

Q3 : When will you perform a carnatic concert ?

A3 : Well, I am not able to understand it. Earlier, due to heavy commitment for recording songs, I could not find time to fit in anything. I thought that after my recording schedules became lighter, I would be able to do something, but somehow, I seem to be filled up with some activity or the other and I am not able to find time

Q4 : You seem to have an excellent control on your Sanskrit diction. How did you acquire it ?

A4 : My father was a Harikatha exponent and I was exposed to lot of Sanskrit phrases even as a child and over the years I have learnt it in addition to Hindi as well. So, whenever lyrics in Sanskrit is given to me, I first understand it fully either by myself or by consulting experts in Sanskrit. This way I ensure that the intention if the lyrics is not diluted (he then went on to explain how some of the Sanskrit words). I am not worried if some people are angry with me for saying this – all languages of the world, be it, Persian, Greek or Latin or for that matter any Indian Language as well had their roots in Sanskrit. You will find that down South, in Tamil people pronounce the word Sanskrit “SHIVA” and “SIVA” and like that many words are there. Even in one of the Tamil devotional songs on Lord Shiva, you will find that while the chorus sings as “nama sivaya”, I sing it as “nama shivayaa”. One has to understand the roots and handle it accordingly otherwise the originality and the essence is lost. I also find some people distorting Sanskrit phrases. Like “EndharO mahanubhaavulu”. Some sing this as “Endha  rO Mahanu Bhaavul” splitting the words which give a totally different meaning allotgether

Q5 : You yourself being a Music Director, how do you think the MDs like M.S.Viswanathan, IlayaRaja etc have created a unique identity for themselves

A5 : Well, I will not able to clearly pin point it. But it is the way in which each one handles a raaga. The same raaga are handled differently by different music directors by way of orchestration. (He now sings a few lines of a Rafi’s Hindi number and immediately someone from the gathering shouts “Naushad Ali”). See you are able to identify a Naushad Ali’s composition. Everything is in the orchestration. One would have handled a raaga differently and that would have become popular whereas another music director would have handled it differently and it would not have been popular. Come on now, you all tell me, are you able to identify any of the present day music directors from their songs. It becomes impossible because nowadays everything is a cocktail of something already available. All the sounds are available in the computer and one just jumbles it up differently and makes music leading to lack of identity. There is even pressure from producers and directors to just copy other  songs already made. Such is the scene now.

Q6 : You are such a good person, how is that possible (I am not clear if this was the actual question asked but it was something like this)

A6 : (the fan who asked this question stands up and our SPB asks him). How do you say I am a good person. You are just seeing me on the Screens and in this type of meetings only. How do you know about my other hidden activities. Well, to some extent, I agree. Only if someone is good at heart, can he deliver something good as well (this comment draws a round of applause from the fans)

Q7 : What do you think about this SPB Fans Charitable Foundation ?

A7 : I am indeed happy about its activities from whatever, I have seen and heard. But I often wonder why my name is used when the good things are being done by the fans and why should I be a part of all the credits. What have I done to earn all these.  I just sing the songs for my income and for my family, that’s all. But my name is used. Since my name has been used for the Foundation, I thought it is not right on my part to be silent and end up someone asking me what is that you ahave done for this Foundation. That is why I am also contributing something every month to the Foundation (for your information, our Guruji is contributing Rs.10,000 every month to the Foundation Account) and now no one can question me on this. To this one of the fans Ramesh (SPB’s close friend) stands up to answer “Sir, when we are in trouble or worry and on coming back home, when we listen to your songs we are transported to a different world. Sometimes I cry on listening to your songs (my wife will vouch for that). You have become a part and parcel of our life and so the credit is due to you”. Next another fan Vijayakrishnan stands up “Sir, it was due to your songs that we all fans have come united to perform this noble task. As individuals we would have only contributed say Rs.500 or so and would have stopped with that whereas as part of the Team we have now come together to achieve bigger things which is solely due to your influence on us and hence it is only right that the Foundation has your name also embedded in it”. (One could see that our SPB accepted this argument very well and applauded by raising and clapping his hands - and from now onwards, he will never have any doubts as to the use of his name for the Foudation).

Q8 : Why are you not singing much songs these days. Is it by design or otherwise ?

A8 : I think it is high time that I stop being too humble. I have come to a stage where I can now express the reality. Well, those days in the 70s and 80s, songs would wait for me to be recorded and music directors waited for me even if it was months. Having ruled for nearly 25 years, it is only right that the scenario changes. For the past ten years I have been recording less number of songs because the trend has been to use many different singers and it is also good that others get the opportunity also. Moreover, going by the quality of songs that is being composed today, I do not regret for the lesser number of songs. Even one of the fans Vikas Kamble from Mumbai had asked me once why I was not singing in Hindi these days. The frank reply to that would be that I am not being called anymore. At one point many years back, there was a vaccum in the Hindi Industry after the demise of Raf-saab and fading of Kishore-ji, when the music directors there thought that I could fill up the vaacum left by these Legends and hence for 10 to 15 years I was recording lot of Hindi songs. But in the last decade or so, new singers who are quite good have emerged in the Hindi scene and it is only natural for that they are given the first preference over me. But if I am called any day  I would only be happy to render songs in Hindi. But in spite of all these, I am happy that inspite of all these I still record at least one song per day whatever be the language

Q9 : On a given day, how do you manage your singing when your actual state of emotions is one and the song you are to render requires a totally different state of emotion ?

A9 : Well, I do not know how I do it. But finally I think, as professionals that is what is expected of us. It is something like leaving your chappals outside the temple when you are entering it. Likewise, when I enter a recording theatre, I leave my natural emotions outside and I go in without it and adapt myself to the emotions that are required for the song. Imagine the other way around. If on a given day, I have rendered a pathos song and I go home in the evening, I cannot ask my wife to serve me good in a sad tone (he acts out the scene with a change in voice modulation – what a great modulator HE is). It would sound funny and inappropriate. Of course, on some days, you feel totally out, in which case, it is better to cancel the recording and have it on another day. But that rarely happens with me. But, I understand that Hindi singers like Mukesh used to delay their recording if they were not in a mood on a given day.

Q10 : (not able to remember the question)

A10 : Well, the difference between other singers and me, I think it is high time that I was more frank with it. While the other singers sing a song as a song, I act according to the required emotion when I sing a song. That helped in livening up the songs.

(Well, I feel exhausted now trying to think of all the other questions. I stop now on this – but I am sure that I have covered the most interesting and critical part of session)

The Question  & Answer session was followed by the presentation of a Memento to our Guruji by the Committee Members on behalf of the Fans. The memento was in vertical Sandal wood article and resembled the Ashoka Pillar with several lion heads at the top. Our Guruji seemed to be impressed with it and expressed that it symbolized unity. One of the Members Venkat had made ready a Jumbo Greeting Card with some inscriptions on it. One could see our Guruji reading it attentively.

The Press Reporters From the dailies Dinamalar, Dinakaran etc….. were also honoured by presentation of memento by the Legend.

Finally, the WebMaster Giridhar came out with the Vote of Thanks. He said that even though he was not well the Legend has taken upon himself to see that he was here at the event without disappointing the fans and participating in the meet enthusiastically. The WebMaster called this a family Meet rather than otherwise. He thanked all the Committee Members, the Press Reporters, Covai Ravee and Ramesh for their contributions in making this event a grand success.

It was quite appropriate that he mentioned all of us a family. Let us all maintain the spirits of a family and take the Foundation to greater heights. My humble request to you at this juncture would be to from a group of fans in your city/town of residence and enroll as many members into the Foudation so that we can do many more contributions to the society that we live in. Royan of Bangalore has already set the wheel rolling in Bangalore and those in Andhra, Kerala and other parts of Hindi should also take lead and expand the Web of the Foundation.

In fact, I am happy to inform you ALL that the response of the Fans after the Meet was encouraging and some of the Fans came forward in registering themselves as Members of the Foundation and many others took the Registration Forms for enrollment later. There were also cash contributions from 5 fans at the Meet. This is in addition to some fans who had already sent in their contributions to the Foundation Account before the Meet. We thank all those fans who had contributed.

I end now with the information that our SPB announced that the next Annual Meet should be in Hyderabad. So, Hyderabad Fans, please gear up for the event from now onwards and form a group to plan for the event and keep us posted.

For your info, DVDs of the Annual Meets 2004, 2005 & 2006 was put up for sale at the Meet and there were good number of Fans who had purchased it by paying Rs.450. The proceeds of this sale would go to the Foundation Account. A CD on the Ennodu Paattu Paadungal program was also put up on sale for Rs,100. Those of you who are interested in purchasing the above, please send in your requirements to Ashok at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or talk to him on 09840888410 (OR) Seshadri at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or talk to him on 09884924987

Thanks & Wishes to you all. Bye, for now

Please visit www.spbindia.com to learn more about the activities of the SPB Fans Charitable Foundation. Become a part of the Foundation and contribute to its activities.

 

Latest In Press

The combo clicked and how!

The Hindu, By MALATHI RANGARAJAN, Jan 13, 2006 The rare combination of SPB and Usha Uthup had the large audience at Nehru Indoor Stadium swaying on their feet.
ReadMore


E-fans felicitate SPB

Fans of playback singer S P Balasubrahmanyam gathered at Kodandapani Audio Lab on January 7 to felicitate SPB on his 40th year in the film industry.
Read More