Sripathi Panditharadhyula Balasubrahmanyam, or Balu to his countless fans and followers in many a country, besides his Motherland - India, is one of the leading figures of Indian Cinema, more particularly, Southern Indian Movie Industry. He had held sway for years and continues to do so, as a top-notch playback singer, in films in many Indian languages like Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam the ‘lingua franca’, Hindi, Tulu, Oriya, Assamese, Badaga, Sanskrit, English, Konkini, Bengali, Marathi and Punjabi.
Balu has sung over a staggering 35,000 songs in films, private albums, TV Serials, which is a fete in itself. He is one of the most sought after “play back” singer of Southern Indian Cinema.
Balu was born on June 4th, 1946 in Konetampet, in present day Tamil Nadu, then in Andhra Pradesh. His father, Sri. S.P. Sambamurthy was a fine musician and an excellent exponent of “Harikatha” (a fine art form of entertainment combining music and story telling). Balu took to singing early. Blessed with a rich melodious voice, a fine range and timbre drenched with honeydew the sprightly lad sang in public while pursuing his engineering diploma.
While singing in one of the “talent-spotting contests” in Chennai, young Balu was spotted by the late film music composer, Sri. S.P. Kodandapani. Balu won the first prize and the enterprising music director gave the fresh talent a break to sing in the film “SRI SRI SRI MARYADA RAMANNA” (Telugu 1966).
Thus began the career that would become a legend in Southern India, the golden-voiced singer, S.P. Balasubrahmanyam. Success came by calling on wheels for young Balu, and within a short period the name SPB began to ripple out creating waves across the land. He made audiences across India sit up and take note, with his mellifluous renderings in the run-a-away super hit “EK DUJE KE LIYE”.
His singing performance in the many-award-winning Telugu Musical, “SHANKARABHARANAM” (Telugu 1979) won him the coveted Indian Government award as the best singer of the year. The film smashed records which the voice, melody, verve and feelingful rendering of Balu contributed more than amply. He also got National Awards for his singing in films like “EK DUJE KE LIYE” (Hindi 1981), “SAAGAR SANGAMAM” (Telugu 1983), “RUDRA VEENA” (Telugu 1988), “GAANA YOGI PANCHASHARI GAVAI” (Kannada 1995, “MINSARA KANAVU” (Tamil 1996) altogether six which is a record. Balu won the coveted film fare award for singing in “MAINE PYAR KIYA” in 1990, and the SurSinger Award for his best classical rendering in the Hindi film “TERE PAYAL MERE GEETH” in 1992. Balu also performed on screen and donned character roles with roaring success in as many as 45 films in Tamil, Telugu and Kannda.
Balu bagged the Tamil Nadu Government and Andhra Pradesh Government, prestigious awards at least 10 times as the best Singer, best character actor and composer. He was awarded the “KALAIMAMANI” by Tamil Nadu Government in the early seventies. He was awarded “DOCTORATE” by Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University in 1999. He was awarded “Ms. LATA MANGESHKAR PURASKAR” by Madhya Pradesh Government in 1999. He was awarded by “PADMASHRI” by Indian Government in 2001. He was awarded an “Honorary Doctorate” by Satyabama University in 2009.
A quick glance of notable achievements include:
- Balu has recorded over 35,000 songs in a span of 40 years, which include film songs and devotional numbers recorded by various recording companies of the country. It is a world record which will be soon entering into the Guinness Book of World Records.
- Balu has sung in 14 regional languages - Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Hindi, Tulu, Oriya, Assamese, Badaga, Sanskrit, Konkini, Bengali, Marathi and Punjabi
- Balu has recorded 17 songs in Kannada for the composer Upendra Kumar in Bangalore from 9.00 a.m. to 9.00 p.m. on February 8, 1981 which is a record.
- Balu recorded 19 songs in Tamil & Telugu in a day and 16 songs in Hindi in a day for music directors Anand and Milind, which is a notable achievement.
- From singing to composing was a short leap, composing music for 45 films in Telugu, Kannada, Tamil and Hindi.
- Dubbing for southern Indian stars in over 100 movies is another venture that brought him recognition for his deep and astounding voice. He even received the best dubbing artiste award for ANNAMAYYA for lending his voice to Suman, who played Lord Balaji in the movie.
- He has also successfully portrayed character roles in as many as 45 films in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada.
Despite a vigorous singing career spanning 4 decades, SPB has donned several other avatars, giving of his best in every one of them and enjoying the variety of the experience to the full.
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.
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.