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“His Voice Conveyed The Purity Of A Copper Vessel,” Hariharan On S P Balasubramaniam



Fellow-singer Hariharan is inconsolable  in his  grief  for the  going of  S P Balasubramaniam. “He  was one of his kind. At  74  his voice resonated   like  that  of a 40-year old.Everyone has to go.  But why did  Bala Sir have to  go like this?It’s not  fair. He had  so much more to give.”

Hariharan, a  versatile singer himself,  is stupefied  by  SPB’s versatility.  “He sang in  multiple languages and he  understood the nuances  of each of those languages.  He had  that special knowledge needed  to make playback singing  convincing. And what a throw his  voice had!  When he sang for Kamal Haasan  we were  convinced  it was  Kamal Haasan singing on screen. Last year  he sang for  Rajinikanth  in a film and  it sounded like Rajiniji singing for himself.”

   Hariharan  applauds  SPB’s  blend of classicism and populism.  “Balaji’s  deep understanding of Hindustani classical music and his instinctive grasp of  the  grammar  of playback singing made him a unique  presence  in  our  film music. He had  a photographic memory. He could memorize  a song in  any language. But  he understood the feelings  behind the words  in every language.”

Hariharan compares  SPB  to Kishore  Kumar. “Because SPB was an actor—he has played prominent roles in dozens  of  Telugu and Tamil films—he could emote in a song  exactly the way  it needed   to be seen on  screen.In that sense Bala Sir  was like Kishore Kumar, always  acting in his songs, adding  things to  a song  that the  composer couldn’t think  of . His voice  conveyed the unalloyed  purity  of a copper vessel.”

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