Date : 8th February 2009
Venue : Celebrity Hall, Hotel Taj Mahal, Abids, Hyderabad, India
Time : 10.30am to 2.45pm
Coordinators at Hyderabad :
Coordinators from Chennai :
For a start, the coordinators of the Event need to be first congratulated for their superb efforts in making this event a grand success under the able guidance of the Foundation’s Managing Trustee Shri.Giridhar Raja. The event this year had lot of positives & highlights which should be first listed and then the actual narration can follow.
Highlights of the Meet :
Visit by SPB to Aadarana – an orphanage for children at Hyderabad along with Foundation Members / Fans
A very spacious Hall for the event with 75 attendees (a major percentage from Chennai & Bangalore)
A superb devotional (Invocation) song rendered by youngster & college student Satish Kumar (nephew of Ashok) for which he received a huge hug from the Legend ( a wonderful and memorable present to cherish for many a lifetime)
SPB in a very jubilant mood (last year at Coimbatore Meet, he was not very much in his elements as he was unwell)
SPB having his hand wrapped around the shoulders of the Fans during photographing
Video Show of Maestro Ilayaraja speaking about our SPB
More information shared by SPB on Rafi and his songs
More number of song bits rendered by SPB based on fans requests – covering Telugu, Tamil, Kannada & Hindi
A complimentary diary for all attendees - bearing an autographed photograph of the Legend and a brief note about the SPB Fans Charitable Foundation
Excellent Buffet Lunch (Vegetarian)
The Legend having lunch along with the Fans for about ¾ hours and sharing his younger days experience (one got to know what a mischievous lad he had been even then)
TO CROWN IT ALL, ABOUT 20 MEMBERS REGISTERED THEMSELVES IN THE FOUNDATION – AN ALL TIME HIGH SINCE IT’S FORMAL INCEPTION IN JANUARY
Meet Agenda (as it finally happened) :
- Visit by SPB to Aadarana – an orphanage for children at Hyderabad along with Foundation Members / Fans (9.45 to 10.30am)
- Registration of Attendees for the Event and the Foundation
- Tea Time
- Invocation Song by Satish Kumar
- Welcome Address by Ramakrishna Rao from Hyderabad
- Self Introduction of Attendees
- Photograph Session with the Legend
- Video Presentation of SPB Fan Charitable Foundation Activities
- Surprise Video Presentation for the Legend
- Questions & Answers Session
- Special Interview by Press with SPB
Visit by SPB to Aadarana:
The Organising Committee of the Event grouped themselves into two. One, comprising Ramakrishna Rao, Chaitanya, Seshadri, Venkat and others, was at the Aadarana to receive the Legend at 9.30am.
Aadarana is an orphanage for young children and it caters to their daily needs and educational requirements. It has two divisions, one housing around 40 boys and the other around 25 girls. It is situated at Malakpet, Hyderabad. It is headed by Mr.Madhava Rao.
SPB was immensely happy to see the small kids rendering songs and performing dances for him. He was very touched by the way the orphanage is run and praised the Management a lot.
On behalf of the Foundation, the Legend handed over a month’s Grocery requirement, Fans, Tube lights & Kitchen Utilities like Cookers/Grinder as needed by the Institution.
Chaitanya from Hyderabad had been instrumental in identifying this institution as a beneficiary. Seshadri & Venkat from Chennai had made a prior visit to Hyderabad a few weeks before the Meet to decide on selection and requirements
Registration of Attendees:
The other group of the Organising Committee comprising of Ashok, Madhumita & Dasaradhi was at the Venue with Ashok to give final touches to the arrangements and the other two to take care of the registration formalities.
The Registration of Members for the Foundation was really encouraging and it gives great pleasure to note that around 20 registered themselves as Members of the Foundation. The best part of it was that the sister-in-law of SPB and her husband along with one of the SPB’s Hyderabad friends also registered themselves as Members of the Foundation towards the end of the Event. This clearly showed that the message floated by the Foundation and the good encouraging words from the Legend about the Foundation had a great impact on those present at the event.
Satish Kumar – a college Student and an ardent fan of SPB and also a nephew of Foundation Committee Member Ashok, was given the honour of rendering the Invocation song.
He sang a devotional number from the Tamil film Vietnam Colony, which was originally sung by Bombay Jayashree.
It was a very soulful rendering on his part and it instantly captured the attention of SPB who at that time was in the process of autographing the photographs on the diaries (which were to be presented as compliments later). One could find the Legend visibly appreciating the rendering.
He complimented the singer abundantly and wished him well. Such was his magnanimity that towards the end of the show, he called Satish back on to the stage and presented him with a loving and affectionate embrace as a token of his appreciation.
He was quick to understand that Satish had had carnatic training and he impressed upon him that he should go on further and reach great heights.
Ramakrishna Rao from Hyderabad, the leader of the Hyderabad team which had coordinated for the event, gave the opening address. He welcomed all the participants and went on to brief about the events that took place during the visit of SPB to the Orphanage.
He also welcomed SPB who in spite of his busy schedule had spared time to be with his fans.
He also briefed about the efforts that had gone into the planning and activities that had gone into setting up this show at Hyderabad
Self Introduction of Attendees:
In this meet, all the participants were given the chance of introducing themselves to others.
Everyone introduced by mentioning their name, place of residence, profession with some of the excited fans stating that they were happy being there at the event.
Photograph Session with the Legend:
This session turned out to be the most sought after one as it brought the fans physically closer to the Legend and the moment was to be etched in print for a lifetime and also to serve as a memento.
This time, it was different, different in the sense that he got himself as close as possible to the fans by wrapping his huge hands around the shoulders of the Fans. This had never happened in the earlier meets. It served to be a special moment to cherish forever.
Fans were scampering around to get to him first. Some had their own cameras handed over to others to capture the delightful moment. Smiles were abounding on the faces. Some even took the liberty of getting photographed twice with the Great human being.
During this session the fans were also given a complimentary diary by SPB on behalf of the SPB Fans Charitable Foundation. This diary had a photograph pasted on its front inner cover with an autograph by the Legend. It also had a brief note about the Foundation and its activities
Video Presentation of the SPB Fans Charitable Foundation Activities:
One of the Objectives of the Annual Meets is to create a forum wherein the Fans could meet up with the Legend and spend time with him.
The other important objective is to make known to all fans, the existence of the SPB Fans Charitable Foundation and its philanthropic activities, so that many more fans realize the great work that is being done in the name of the Legend’s fans. The purpose is to have more fans registering in the Foundation wherein they get the opportunity to serve the society. This is the ultimate wish of our SPB too, for he does not want the union of fans with him to be just limited to interactions. His wish is that this union should serve the society too.
Towards this, a video show of some of the Charity events organized by the Foundation was presented on the screen. We had the trustees of Chennapuri Annaadan Samajam , an orphanage in Chennai talking about their institution and the help that the SPB Fans Foundation had extended to them. We also had Dr.Ambika, Head of RASA, a school for Special Children, talking about the use of theatrics and songs in the development of physically & mentally challenged children and adults. She expressed her thanks to the Foundation for helping them out by providing some of their requirements
Surprise Celebrity Video Presentation:
It has now become a standard agenda in the Annual Meets since 2007 to have video clips presented on celebrities talking about the Legend and his attributes.
Our SPB had many a time expressed that these sessions made him feel embarrassed – hearing others talking so good about him when he felt that he was just an ordinary human being who had taken to singing only as a profession to earn his bread & butter.
This time, when the session was announced, he got up from the dais and walked over to the front row of the seating arrangements for watching the video show and in the process he quipped “What missiles do you have in store for me this time” “Let me face the first missile”
What followed next was indeed a surprise to most of the fans present as only a few had been involved in the making of the Celebrities videos.
First in line, was the video of Actor Venkatesh speaking on our Legend (It is understood that Chaitanya from Hyderabad was the man who got hold of the actor’s appointment and had made all arrangement for the video shoot). The excerpts from the video is as follows
Balu Garu has sung many lovely songs for me. One of most memorable one is the Priyathama na hrudhayama in the film Prema. He has sung it with so much passion that whenever I listen to it I am moved. He also played a small role in that film. I have made it a practice that at least one song in my film should be sung by him. Sometimes when it happened that he was very busy and found it difficult to fit in a song for my film in his schedule, I had pulled all strings to make him sing for me. Such is the impact he has on me. I also had the rare opportunity of having him in the role of my Father in the film Pavithra Bhandham and those were the times I will cherish forever. He is also a great human being. I understand that the SPB Fans Charitable Foundation formed in his name is doing good service to the society and I wish them all success in their endeavours
Next was Director K.Viswanath. His words went off like this
Baalu……Gaaru – I say so because I hved known him since his childhood as Baalu and have seen him grow leaps & bounds. He has grown to such a stature that I am forced to use …..Gaaru now eventhough he is always Baalu to me. He is called intimately by many others as Mani, Bala, SPB and so on. He is a very versatile artiste handling the wide repertoire of singing, dubbing, acting, anchoring & producing films. For Shankarabharanam, I wanted him to sing at least one song for the film and I am extremely happy that he sang all the songs. I wish him many more years of success. This SPB Charitable Trust formed in his name is doing lot of good activities and I wish them all success in their efforts
Singer and Small Screen Actor Mano followed next. His lines were
Known as Nagoor Babu, I am like the younger brother of Baalu Annayya. Our relationship dates back to more than 30 years when I used to be an assistant to Music Director Chakravarthy. I was the Pilot Singer during those times and used to teach Annayya the songs. I have grown listening to his songs a lot and I am blessed to be associated with him. Apart from being a great singer, he is also a very good human being. He never looked down on the junior artistes and treated all as his equals. One of the recent associations with him which I cherish was during our USA trip together in the year 2006. We were together for 21 days and we did 6 shows. We two were the male singers in the troupe and I can never forget how kind he was to me during that trip. During the trip, my wife also accompanied me and she found pleasure in preparing food and serving Annayya many times. This he remembered and thoughtfully mentioned it during one of the concerts by saying that I had taken care of him very well during the tour. That too, in front of a crowd numbering around 3000. I will never forget this kind gesture of his. I am very happy to note that this Foundation formed by his fans is doing noble activities serving the society. Recently they have donated a lakh of Rupees to a deaf & dumb school at Chengalpet, Chennai. This they have done in spite of their busy schedule. I think they are one big family with Annayya. I myself participate in such activities and I will try to help whenever possible. I wish them well in all their activities and my vandanam to Annayya.
The next celebrities were a pair and the siblings of our SPB – none other than Singer Shailaja and his other sister Kalyani
Shailaja :: Anna has been more of a father to us and we always looked up to him for guidance. He has taught me so much in singing. He was always a stickler for punctuality and he used to advise me that an artiste should practice a lot and should be well in time for a concert so that the public are not disappointed. Once I became a singer, we used to meet each other more on the outside than at home. Our meetings were generally at the recording studios both waiting to rush off to the next recording. During our childhood days, he used to take us to school and also bring us food. He was very naughty too. Once, we girls were playing card games at home well into the night. He came home at around 11.00pm and he too wanted to play with us. And he cheated a lot and when everything went against him he messed up the cards and quit the game. Another incident which is still fresh in memory was when he took us all to watch the English horror film EXORCIST. When we were back at home that night, we girls were all in the ground floor engaged in some chores. We were under the impression that Annayya had gone to the first floor to rest. Later, when we came out into the Hall, we found him standing at the bottom of the staircase. When we quizzed him what he was doing there, he said that he was waiting so that he could take us all upstairs lest we should be frightened to come up after having watched a horror movie. Such a brave man he was !!!!!! (Our SPB later jocularly said that his sisters had tarnished his image now before the fans)
Sister Kalyani spoke only a few words about her brother and it was more of a subset of the above
The final celebrity to speak on the video was none other than SPB’s close friend Maestro Ilayaraja. (Hats off to the members Seshadri & Ashok who had organized this interview)
IlayaRaja words about his close friend were
Our relationship dates to several years back. During those days, Baalu was looking for a harmonist to replace one of his regular players and I got introduced to him then through a common friend. I met him first at a school event and at that time he expressed his wish in forming an orchestra with me. During those times, we used to go on his scooter and visit Pappad Jamal in Chennai to get some gramophone records and tapes so that we could prepare the tunes for the songs that were to be played in our orchestra. Regarding his caliber, having been in the industry for 42 years is by itself a proof of his caliber. 42 years is not a small period in a singer’s life. He may have rendered most of my songs but he was equally used by many other music directors too. A singer is called upon to sing only if he is very good and what has happened is ample proof of his ability. Whatever events that have taken place between us on the personal side is between us and this is not a forum to share it. I wish him many more songs and awards in the years to come.
With that the celebrity Video show ended. Later SPB told us that the arrangements for the video graphing of IlayaRaja had gone on behind his back and that the culprit he understood later was his assistant Vittal who had arranged it all for the fans and that too without his knowledge. He was surprised that IlayaRaja had agreed to talk in the first place for he is known to be averse to giving interviews just like that. He applauded the perseverance of the Fans in getting it done and presenting the same to him.
Question & Answers Session:
This session was also one of the most sought after one as this is when the Fans could interact one to one with the Legend.
Many of the fans requested him to sing a few lines of his songs and he delightfully heeded to their requests even though he commented that it was becoming more of a concert.
One of the lady fans asked him why was it that he always talked of the Tamil song “Aayiram Nilave Vaa” as having boosted his career when he had sung a few songs earlier to that. His answer was “Even though I had sung five songs in my first year 1969 in the Tamil Industry, it was this song that I had sung for MGR which made others recognize me. Imagine a 22 year old singing for a mega star like MGR. This meant that the singer had to be good. Moreover, MGR postponed the shooting of the song as I was not well and was down with severe fever on the day of the scheduled recording. It took me more than a month to recover and MGR had waited for me patiently to record the song with me. Till that day I was under the impression that the song would have been recorded with some other singer and the shooting would have gone ahead. This explains why this song forms a special part of my life”
Next, we had Murali from Chennai asking the Legend about the Audition song (a Rafi song) that he had sung when he was evaluated for Ek Duje Ke liye by Music Director Lakshmikanth Pyarelal. Murali also happens to be very ardent fan of Rafi and he has expressed this to our SPB quite a number of times in his emails to him and our SPB remembered it well and he mentioned that his fan used to send him email asking him to render at least one Rafi song in each concert. He also went ahead to announce that he was planning to do a full length Rafi concert in all the three states. This evoked visible happiness from those present.
He then went on to narrate about the Audition song. It seems that he had rendered a Rafi song composed by the Music Director himself and that our SPB had improvised on his own at some places. Lakshmikanth Pyarelal who was accompanying him on the Harmonium had stopped and had gazed at SPB curiously. He seems to have asked our SPB to stop and asked him if this was his song as it seemed to be different at some places. SPB had replied that it was his song and that he had improvised it. The MD had asked why and our Legend had charismatically replied that it was the way he sang. He ended it all by saying that the MD concluded with the words “After Rafi you are the only playback singer”. This drew a heavy round of applause from the gathering.
While on the subject of Rafi songs, he went on to talk about the strengths of Rafi. On the aspect of voice, he said that other singers like Kishore and Lata had better voice and range than Rafi’s. However when it came to exhibiting the emotions in a song Rafi was the Master. Tandem songs in particular wherein the same song was rendered by a female singer and male singer in solo, Rafi always excelled and scored over his counterpart. He went on to cite an example of “Ehe saan tere“ wherein he highlighted the uniqueness of Rafi in rendering the word “Mohabat..” towards the middle of the song. This he said came from the soul and the Rafi the master excelled at it. SPB confessed that it was this style of Rafi which he had imbibed and adopted in this singing. He finally said that anything emanating from the soul would have to be beautiful.
When Murali opined that, after Rafi, SPB was considered the next greatest singer, our SPB was immediate to in replying that “Place Rafi at the top and I don’t mind having anyone below him. Only a real great singer can feel so about another great singer. Hats off to the Legend.
One of the fans asked him about his unsung song series wherein earlier he had recorded his favourite songs of other singers. SPB told that it had happened as a one-off case and that he was not interested in doing it anymore as it may not be taken in the right perspective by many. However, he revealed that he was in the process of re-recording his own songs of his early days using the current digital technology and that he had completed about 15 songs and would be completing 50 songs shortly. He felt sad that the original singers like Susheela and Janaki were not able to accompany him in this re-recording exercise as they were not in their elements now. However he was going ahead with some of the good and new upcoming singers
One of the Fans from Karnataka asked him about his favourite song in Kannada. Our SPB replied that it was quite difficult to pick from such a vast list. He however came out with the song “Jothe iyile..” composed by IlayaRaja 30 years back and a few other songs as well and sang a few lines of these.
A young girl in the gathering wanted to sing a Tamil song with him and he obliged by accompanying her. What a Great Human being he is. Honouring the feelings of the fans.
He also made a mention that the song Priyathama Na Hrudhayama which Actor Venkatesh had talked about was also very close to his heart. He said that he felt heavy at the heart whenever he sang the song and said that the filming of the song was a very painful affair as it had lot of pathos embedded into it.
We had one young romantic fan express that SPB had become a integrated part of his life. SPB immediately had asked him if he was in love with a girl. The young man hesitated a bit which revealed that it was so. The boy went on to say that she was also an SPB fan and that they had come together due to SPB influence on them. Our SPB was quick to add humour by warning the youngster not to talk too much about him to her lest she should fall in love with him rather than the boy.
This evoked a hearty round of applause from the gathering. Our SPB was also quick to point out that two of his fans Venkat & Priya (from Chennai who were present at the event) had come together through this SPB Fans Group and had tied the knot recently. He wished that they would bless the Group with one more fan shortly. SPB was then asked to present a small gift to the newly married couple on behalf of the Foundation.
One of the fans was curious to know the exact number of songs that the Legend had sung. To that, our SPB emphatically replied “35000, I am quite sure about it, but some people exaggerate it to be 40,000 & 50,000 which is not true”. While on this subject, he praised the efforts of the Banglorean Fans R.G.Narayan and Rajkumar who were putting in tremendous efforts to compile his entire collection of songs. He mentioned that he had handed over a lot of his song books to them dating back to 1970s. He also went on to say that R.G.Narayan was so embedded in this exercise that he is traveling to remote parts of Tamilnadu and other states whenever he got information that someone possessed a collection of SPB’s songs. He said that he would be ever grateful to have such fans. At this point, RGN was humble enough to mention that there was another fan Abubkakar from Pondicherry who was indeed putting in more efforts than he, for the collection of songs. SPB also praised Rajkumar for helping him out with his laptop problems whenever he was in town. On a lighter vein, he warned Rajkumar not to put on weight lest he should become immobile like his secretary Vittal who had joined him as a lean person and who had become quite fat now.
We also had Covai Ravee from Coimbatore trying his best to cajole SPB to sing a song “Bhoomadevi pole..” from a Tamil movie “Panchcha kalyani” but our SPB laughed away this effort saying he wondered if such a film was ever made. One can excuse him for not remembering the song for such is the spread of his achievements. He also pointed out that he had found a remarkable improvement in the English of Covai Ravee. He recalled those days when Ravee could not utter even a few words in English. Nowadays he was happy to note that he had improved a lot.
Many more questions were asked and points discussed but it would be impossible to narrate all.
Finally a few words on what our SPB felt about the event. He was very happy with the quality of the gathering. Even though the number of attendees was not much, he felt that it was more like a family meet unlike the formal meet that actors have with a huge crowd gathering. He was very appreciative of the fact that many of the fans had come in from far & wide and that he was honoured to be showered with the love and affection of the fans. He was much pleased that his fans were involved in charity events and he said that he had watched the Foundation grow in stature year after year and had grown to a stage where it could donate a lakh of rupees to a needy institution. He crowned it all by saying “EVEN IN MY NEXT BIRTH, I WANT TO BE BORN AS SPB THE SINGER AND SWIM IN THE OCEAN OF YOUR LOVE & AFFECTION” What more can one ask for.
Note : The event was also graced by the noted Telugu singer, anchor and dubbing artiste Sunitha and by some close friends and relatives of his, namely his sister-in-law and her husband. Towards the end, SPB called on Sunitha to come on stage and render a song and the singer obliged shyly.
Our SPB also spent some time answering questions from the local media persons who were also invited for the event in order to cover the event and publish it in their newspapers. Fans can watch out for clippings about the event in the newspapers
The event came to a pleasant end with a wonderful buffet lunch. Thanks to Ramakrishna Rao the coordinator of the event for taking care of the hotel arrangements and also to the management of the Hotel Taj Mahal.
The highlight of this session was that our beloved SPB also had lunch along with the fans. This is the first time that lunch was arranged in an Annual Meet. All the earlier meets had taken place either in the evenings or very early in the morning and hence a high tea had sufficed then.
One could see him enjoy his lunch with his friends and closer ones. Some of the Fans grouped around him while he was having lunch and were fortunate to hear him narrate the stories of his younger days when he along with his friends used to collect money somehow through mischievous means in order to visit the cinema halls or for some other secretive purposes. One could also hear him narrating his first association with his mentor and guide Shri.Kothandapani who had been instrumental in visualising a great future for him and guiding him towards it and had emphatically predicted that if disciplined he would rule the industry for more than 40 years. His prophecy had become a reality when there came a time that SPB was forced to refuse an offer for singing for his mentor himself because of his busy schedules. SPB wondered how he was able to do that to his mentor but it seems that Shri.Kothanadapani did not feel offended but rather quite pleased - for his prophecy that SPB would one day become a very busy singer had come true. And more true, he is now well into the fifth decade as predicted by his mentor. When the singer Sunita who was sitting nearby asked him if it was possible for a singer to have any goals in the present scenario when good songs were becoming a rarity, he replied that she had to identify a good music director and ensure that she gets chance to sing his compositions more. This could help her in reaching her goal. A valid bit of advice it was from the Legend.
With the Lunch session coming to an end, everyone disbursed quite content and happy in having spent a wonderful few hours with the Great Human Being
By now the purpose of the Annual Meet and the role of the SPB Fans Charitable Foundation would have become quite clear to all the fans.
Those fans who had not registered themselves as members of the Foundation are requested to do so.
Please visit http://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 by downloading the Membership form from the above site and forwarding the same to the address mentioned on the Form, along with a Donor Fees of Rs.300 for registration