The combo clicked and how!

The combo clicked and how!

Article Title: The combo clicked and how!

Source : 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.

On the face of it, they are an incongruous duo. S. P.Balasubrahmanyam, playback singer of 40 years standing in films, and Usha Uthup, who stormed the stage with every kind of light music from pop to cinema more than two decades ago and still rules the proscenium, came together for a light music bonanza with Lakshman Sruthi's orchestral support on Sunday at the Nehru Indoor Stadium.

Lakshman Sruthi's cent per cent live orchestra rose to the occasion wonderfully. The initial warming up session had about half a dozen songs by the troupe's singers, including the up and coming Malathi. The other singers were not introduced very clearly, probably because it was an SPB-UU show. But all of them performed well. Rightly, a thoughtful Usha wanted the gathering to put their hands together for Lakshman Sruthi's orchestra and singers.

Suited, booted, dyed and bespectacled, it was a charged, effervescent SPB you saw that evening. It would not just be redundant but rather presumptuous to comment on the way one of the finest voices of our times sailed through the bouncy strains and lilting refrains. Like a conjuror pulling out all and sundry from the air around, the honey-throated singer brought in an innovation in every number - be it his classy improvisations or his mimicking skills for the `Kadavul Amaithu Vaitha Maedai' song, which had him croak like a frog and trumpet like an elephant!

When the legend that had the packed stadium eating out of his hand, humbly announced his entry into the 40th year of his singing career, the crowd went dizzy with joy. He started off with a bang — `Chandramukhi's Thathimthom.' Generally when listening to SPB, his face fades out and the actor who mouthed the song in the particular sequence zooms into focus. Thus he allowed Rajini, Kamal, Mohan and others to take over, as his voice so melodiously merged with the actors in your mind's eye.

Perfect rapport

"No show these days is possible without sponsors," Usha began with a smile. "I was amazed at the publicity ... so many hoardings, posters and ads of the great SPB, and UU splashed all over the city! And such a large audience! It's incredible," she cooed with enthusiasm.

Normally Usha's audience are of a different ilk, the kind that enjoys various genres in a variety of languages. So vast is her repertoire. So you wondered how she would be able to tackle a crowd that seemed predominantly glued to Tamil film music. But the lady struck a perfect rapport and charmed them with her impromptu interaction. Soon, as always, she had them dancing to her numbers, singing along with her or following her. Taking up famous Yesudas numbers and doing ample justice to them, Usha said, "Music transcends gender."

SPB couldn't stop raving about her warm, uninhibited exchanges. "A great human being," he went on. The verve was so infectious that SPB too tried out a small jig with her for the peppy `Rambam Bam ... ' duet from `Michael Madhana Kama Rajan.' The crowd was roped in for a chorus towards the end. Usha proved a veteran in the art of entertaining and being entertained!

Beginning with her ever-popular `Hare Rama Hare Krishna' song, `Dhumaro Dhum,' she had a medley of a line-up that included a few Hindi and many Tamil hits.

"Old songs are incomparable," Usha commented as a prelude to the `Paartha Gnabagam Illaiyo' song. A rendering so very different from P. Susheela's original. Usha's individuality glowed. But it also gave the feeling that probably with more rehearsals the song would have shone even better. Most of the numbers that SPB and UU sang were solos.

SPB's melodies have found an everlasting place in cinema. Usha's baritone, so very different and appealing in its huskiness, is special too.

And when the intriguing combo shared stage space the Medimix Music Journey was made memorable.


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