Friday evening turned out to be an occasion to be filed into the annals of my memories. We had the coveted opportunity to see and listen to SPB singing, live. SPB aka SP Balasubramanyam is a house-hold name down South of the Vindhyas and it would be wrong to say that he is unknown to our northern brethren… his playback for Salman Khan’s earlier movie songs are evergreen… his voice suited Salman to the T… think of mere rang me… from MPK or saathiya tune kya kiya… from Love or pehla pehla pyaar hai…from HAHK and you’ll know why I say so.
Well, I digress… this was the occasion for the inauguration of a play-ground and unveiling of some challenging projects to develop our locality; the local councilor together with the health minister for state had arranged to have SPB perform with his orchestra team. And much to our delight we found that this team was the very same as in the Kannada musical show on E-TV, ‘ede tumbi haaDuvenu’ 🙂 with stalwarts like Praveen Godkhindi on the flute, Venu on the tabla, Arun Kumar on the drums etc. Further, to compliment SPB, we found, ’twas to be Archana Udupa, one of the most promising singers on the Kannada scene today. Additionally, the chorus team was excellent too.
It was an evening to cherish, listening to some of my favourite songs being rendered by the accomplished singer himself in his mellifluous voice, sitting just a few feet away, I was thrilled… the songs selected formed a delectable collection… maamaravellO kOgile ellO… kannaDa naaDina jeevanadi…joteyali jote joteyali from Geeta… lOkave heLida maatidu from Premaloka… his award winning song from Shankarabharanam…mere rang me from MPK… naguva nayana… aMku DoMku daari byaaDa from Aptamitra…bhale bhale ceMdada ceMduLLi from Amrutavarshini…tere mere beech me from Ek duje ke liye…haMge kuNirO hiMge kuNirO from jOgi…and some more…he finally wrapped up with another gem… haaDu saMtOShakke…from Geeta again. As fillers we had the supporting group singing numbers which were equally good. With the matching soulful to tempestuous accompaniment of the flute, drums and other instruments, the ears were enthralled.
What makes the man special is not just his mesmerizing singing… it is also the amazing sense of humility and modesty that he maintains to this day… as he himself revealed, it has now been 40 years that he’s been in the industry! Add to that, the wide spectrum of languages he has sung in and the numerous movies he has acted in… amazing, I would say! The extent of the enjoyment he derived from his singing was evident from the camaraderie he shared with his co-singers and troupe; and his sense of humour came to the fore when he playfully blocked the way of his wife after she was felicitated, who being shy of the limelight wanted to escape back stage 🙂 This was a rare occasion when we actually got to see his wife, who otherwise being camera-shy prefers to stay away from the flashlights, I suppose . Time and again, he thanked the crowd and Kannadigas for the honour, love and respect shown to him… by ‘adopting him, a nomad, as the son of their soil’ he said.
Finally, even as Archana and another guy were getting whistles for ellO jOgappa nin aramane… a white innova zoomed away and soon we realized that SPB had made his silent exit. The crowd trooped back homewards… though the hour was late, the hearts and souls were trilling with the 3 hour- musical extravaganza they had been witness to…