Skip to main content

A versatile singer, SP Balasubrahmanyam 'represented' idea of India, now under attack

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*

SP Balasubrahmanyam (June 4, 1946-September 25, 2020), popularly SPB, who has the world record of singing more than 40,000 songs in 16 different languages of India, represented the idea of India, which is currently under attack. The film industry in Mumbai has been in Hindustani, and not Hindi. Bollywood was built mostly by those whose mother tongue was neither Hindi nor the city’s original mother tongue, Marathi, or what is often called Bambaiya Hindi.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, when cinema was going through a new patch, though Mohammad Rafi had passed away and Kishore Kumar still dominated, many new singers emerged to give playback to new actors. Many of them were no match to the old trio of Rafi, Kishore and Mukesh. Most of them tried to copy the three legends.
No doubt, many did become popular, but two outstanding personalities provided us some of the most melodious songs of all times in Hindustani cinema. One of them was a “spiritual” voice from Kerala, the legendary Yesudas. Yesudas sang very few songs in Hindustani -- “Chitchor”, “Dada”, “Chhottee See Baat”, “Swami”, “Sawan ko Aane Do”, and so on. He remained a favourite of music director Ravinder Jain, who introduced him to Hindi world with 'Gori tera gaon bada pyaara'.
Almost all the songs that Yesudas sang became super hit, including “Aaj se pahle, aaj se zyada khushi aaj tak nahi mili”, “Jab deep jale aanaa”, “Jab saanjh dhale aana”, “Kaa karoon sajni aaye naa balam”, etc.
Born in the then Madras Presidency, SPB's entry into Hindustani films happened in 1981 with Kamal Hasan's remake of an old Telugu film, in which he and Rati Agnihotri were in the lead role, while music of the film was composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal. The film "Ek Duje Ke Liye" became one of the biggest hits. It was not merely because of the new actor Rati Agnihotri, but also because of the melodic voice of SPB.
For us, who had just entered the teen, it was a treat to listen to 'Tere mere beech me, kaisa hai ye bandhan anjaana', or ‘Mere jeevan saathi pyaar kiye jaa’, or ‘Bum bane tum bane ek duje ke liye.’ Later, we listened to his voice in Salman Khan films, all of which became superhit.
I am sure anyone who listens 'Aate jaate hanste gaate’ and ‘Socha tha maine man me kai baar' would fall in love with the voice of SPB. Whether you like Salman Khan films or not, his voice was energetic, versatile and youthful. He became the voice of Salman Khan in Badjatya's films, defining the romantic and flamboyant mood of the actor, whether it was “Maine Pyaar Kiya” or “Hum Apke Hain Kaun”.
If Yesudas is spiritual, SPB is versatile. After Kishore Kumar, SPB was the only one who could sing in such diversity and with such ease
What is important for me is, the way SPB sang the songs turned them into classics. Perhaps Hindi speaking Bihari-UP wallahs won't do that kind of hard work, even though there is a tendency among them to 'dominate' the industry. Pick up any song, there is so much 'lachak' in the voice of SPB. If Yesudas is spiritual, SPB is versatile. After Kishore Kumar, SPB was the only one who could sing in such diversity and with such ease.
Yesudas with SPB
SPB became a legend in his lifetime. He started his acting career much before many of us were born. He was not merely a playback singer but an actor and a producer, too. But he would be remembered mostly for his melodious songs.
When we pay tribute to SPB and his versatility, it is important for the Hindi speaking people to respect the contribution of non-Hindi speaking people to Bollywood. It is also time we do not use cinema to spread hatred.
We know Bollywood has loads of problems, including nepotism and other issues, but it has also gave us Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Shailendra, Sahir, Mazruh, Kaifi Azami, Rahi Masum Raja, Kishore, Rafi, Mukesh, Talat, Sachin Dev Barman, Naushad, Lata Mangeshkar, Yesudass and SPB.
While we may or may not watch Bollywood films, surely, their songs and lyrics have given life to millions of people all over the world. They give hope, they share pain, they give a reason to live. And what is more important, most of them did not have Hindi as their mother tongue, yet they became voices of the nation.
Bollywood has given some superb films highlighting secular, especially Hindu-Muslim, ethos, though it hasn’t yet opened up on issues of Dalit identity, women's rights, or issues nagging marginalised people. It is yet to open up to these issues, giving space to the aspiring Ambedkarite film makers, writers and actors, thus bringing about inclusion in the industry.
Yet, the fact is, the serene voices of Yesudas, SPB and others celebrate diversity of Hindustani cinema.
---
*Human rights defender

Comments

anil said…
Spb lacked depth. Too light a voice like Rafi
Songs He sang were mediocre his tere mere beeche me kaisa hai ye bandhan was atrocious on ears
It was reported in Maha Times in 80s criticizing his song baratawada that playing with words don't make u kishorkumar in Sagar hecsand Maria well the yuhi gate raho reasonably well but yaar mere medicore.His voice sounded like Reda in soft songs.
In. Salman Times Kumar Sanu exceled him
His song hum na samze the medicre
Most medicocre singer
PSP said…
SPB is no ordinary singer. He was as gifted as Kishore da. Kumar Sanu is dwarf compared to legends as Rafi Kishore Yesudas or SPB Mukesh etc These are legends of high order. SPB was a X could be compared to RAFI MUKESH AND KISHORE along with Ghantasala Yesudas. All these singers are very courteous humble obedient with great mutual respect towards other singers. OK

TRENDING

'Blatant violation' of law by Central government in making NREGA payments

By Our Representative  In September third week, NREGA workers across the country were mobilised for two day so raise their issues and submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister. Organised the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), a collective of groups that work with NREGA labourers across the country, workers from 13 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- carried out Kaam Do Abhiyaan, staging demonstrations and rallies against what they called blatant violation of law by the Central government in making NREGA payments. While NREGA has had very positive impacts, it has lately become fruitless, exploiting labour, even though workers who have put in honest hard work have to wait for their wages endlessly, it was suggested.  In such a situation, there is a need to firm up NREGA implementation and end systematic corruption to ensure that workers get their basic NREGA entit

Fascism on prowl? Religious meet 'deeply pained' at silence of Church, bishops, priests

Counterview Desk  The ‘Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace’which held its 17th National Convention at the Montfort Social Institute, Hyderabad, Telangana from 22 to 24 September 2022 on the theme “Deepening our Identity as Religious: Responding to the Signs of the Times”, has expressed concern “at the deteriorating situation of our nation on every front”, especially stating, “Fascism seems to have come to stay” in India. At the same time, the convention, which took place with the participation of 60 persons from 16 states representing 20 religious congregations, in its unanimously-adopted statement added, “We have reached abysmal depths on every parameter: be it social, economic and political”, underlining, “The poor in India become poorer every day; the rich and powerful continue to profiteer at their expense and amass scandalous amounts of wealth.” Text: We, members (63 women and men Religious, from 16 states representing 20 Congregations) of the Forum of Religious for Justice

Rajasthan cops 'halt' Gujarat Dalit women's rally: homage to untouchability victim boy

By Our Representative  In a surprise move, the Rajasthan police stopped a Dalit women's rally from Gujarat on the borders after it crossed Gujarat alleging that it would "disturb peace" in village Surana, Jalore district, where the gruesome incident of death of a Dalit boy took place on August 13 after he was brutally beaten up by his teacher on touching the drinking water pot. Sources said, while the Gujarat government had "no objection" in allowing the rally, which originated from the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), an empowerment-cut-technical institute for teens founded by human rights leader Martin Macwan, on September 24 morning, the Rajasthan police stopped it for two and a half hours before allowing it to proceed to Surana. The decision to take out a women's rally was taken at a DSK meeting on September 5 following a condolence meeting of the NGO Navsarjan Trust, also founded by Macwan, activists committed to work against caste-based discrimination, orga

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer

Why Bose's India Gate statue suggests RSS, BJP need violence-loving ‘Hindu’ Netaji

By Prem Singh*  In a TV channel debate, a BJP spokesperson and anchor shared and served a lie that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's daughter in her letter to the Prime Minister has alleged that the Congress kept devaluing Netaji to further Gandhi's non-violence; because Netaji had taken the path of liberating the country through violence mode by forming the Azad Hind Fauj (INA). They also praised the Bombay Royal Naval Mutiny of 1946 to confirm that the country got its independence through a violent route. I stated that I have read the letter of Netaji's daughter, and there is no such allegation in it. But a lie told in the intoxication of power is bound to be blatant. Netaji's daughter Anita Bose Pfaff, even in the past, has already requested some earlier prime ministers of the country to bring back the mortal remains of her father from Japan to India. In none of the letters she has spoken about devaluation of her father’s role in the freedom movement on the basis of Gandh

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

Is coal import dependence of more than 50% by 2047 of any relevance to India?

By Shankar Sharma*  I have read the article " Building Resilience in India’s Power Sector " by N Vedachalam, released by the Observer Research Foundation, with a lot of interest. I expected it to provide few useful recommendations to our authorities in charting out a sustainable pathway to green energy transition much before the climate catastrophe push our communities to the precipice. But I am sorry to say that the overall discussions or the message implied in the article disappointed me. I was expecting the article, coming from an engineer with past experience in the power sector, to discuss the much needed recommendations to put the power sector on a sustainable developmental pathway. But I could notice mostly technical jargon and a lot of statistical information, which may already be available in the public domain.   The article also seems to have simply accepted what some of the official agencies seem to have indicated as inevitable for the power sector in our country;

Government 'fails to take up' Indian migrants' unpaid wages issue with other countries

By Rafeek Ravuther, Chandan Kumar, Dharmendra Kumar*  The migrant workers were one of the most vulnerable sections during the pandemic. India experiences large-scale movement of migrants internally and internationally. After the outbreak of the pandemic, migrant workers continued to face injustice especially in getting wages in expedited manner. In the international context, India, the home of 9 million cross-border temporary labour migrants, carried out the largest repatriation exercise ‘Vande Bharat Mission’. Even though the Indian government addressed the immediate requirement of repatriation, it failed to understand and recognise their post-arrival grievances, like back wages, social protection etc. Recently many workers were deported from the middle- east region. Amidst the establishment of grievance mechanisms such as Consular Services Management System (MADAD) and helplines in Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra (PBSK), the unresolved grievances remain high. The number of unresolv