“You need the voice to create a vibe, build an ambience and tell a story. In SPB’s case, he was at once the singer, the lover, the actor.”
As the pallavi (first paragraph) of MSV’s Sippi irukkudu muthum irukkudu ends, giving technique to a pleasant instrumental interlude, I discover myself getting alert each single time. I do know exactly what I’m ready for and don’t need to miss, whereas getting predictably carried away in that straightforward but enticing tune.
Actors Sridevi and Kamal Haasan within the music ‘Sippi irukkudu muthum irukkudu,’ from the film Varumayin Niram Sivappu.
It is to listen to SPB say “C’mon, say it once again”, with a lot fondness and camaraderie. Sridevi throws a meter-and-tune problem at Kamal Haasan, asking him to reply with poetry. At the tip of the trade (captured memorably in dialog and music by SPB-Janaki in Kannadasan’s phrases), they acknowledge their love for one another. And I affirm mine for SPB. His talking voice interspersing strains of a music invariably make me grin. Just the best way that flirty chuckle of his, in konjam maranju paakkava, illa mudugu thekkava (‘Pothi vecha malliga mottu), does.
‘I can’t consider Balu’s voice has fallen silent’
It appears an irony to be reminded of the talking voice of one of many best playback singers ever, arguably one of the best in India – whether or not you’re taking benchmarks in amount or high quality. If a music have been nearly music, then, the performer’s singing [or playing] approach and the talent to precisely execute a musical thought is all it’s going to take. But when a music is an expertise for an artiste, prefer it was for SPB in every of these 40,000-odd numbers, approach or talent alone received’t do. You want the voice to create a vibe, construct an atmosphere and inform a narrative. In SPB’s case, he was without delay the singer, the lover, the actor.
“I am a good actor. I can emote very well physically and my ability to emote with voice is only an extension of that,” he instructed me in an interview in 2012, talking of the “edge” he may need had. That was one in all three events I noticed SPB shut, in particular person. The different two have been in Jaffna, in Sri Lanka, the place he carried out in 2016, to an enormous gathering; and in Colombo, the place he acquired an award from the Kamban Kazhagam in February this yr, simply earlier than coronavirus (COVID-19) struck this a part of the world, and months earlier than it bought to him. Scores of his followers who gathered at Ramakrishna Hall, positioned in Colombo’s predominantly Tamil space of Wellawatte, have been ecstatic, particularly when he sang a number of strains. SPB reciprocated the sentiment, but additionally stated how thrilled he was to share the stage with fellow-awardee Kumar Sangakkara that night time. “Cricket is my greatest passion after music,” he instructed the viewers.
A trusted witness
For these of us born within the 70s, 80s, and 90s, or others born earlier or later however as addicted, SPB was a trusted witness to our love tales – previous, current, unrequited, forgotten. It was not possible to fall in love, or out of affection, with out him, all of the extra when he teamed up with maestro Ilaiyaraja. When you possibly can have SPB’s voice for company and consolation, peaceful solitude seemed overrated.
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His profession started within the 1960s, however each technology born after that sees him as their icon. He by no means stopped being modern within the five-plus a long time his profession spanned, and his voice refused to bear any signal of age, fatigue or overuse.
Many have marvelled at the truth that an artiste of his stature emerged with no formal coaching. Many have been awe-struck by his versatility – his unmatched potential to traverse genres with equal ease and familiarity. But there’s something extra important in the best way he offered these totally different types – be it a typical carnatic flavour, like within the blockbuster Sankarabharanam, or the contagiously free-spirited ancestors of immediately’s kuthu pattu, similar to Aey aatha aathorama vaariya or Yen jodi manja kuruvi – he confirmed that it was potential for an “untrained voice” to sing each with enviable mastery and musical acumen. At the identical time, not all educated voices can sing both or each as convincingly, as singers with rigorous coaching would repeatedly show of their makes an attempt on actuality reveals.
However, for a listener, there was no have to get his songs “right”. Summoning any emotion at will in his songs, SPB spoke immediately to every of us. No matter which type or how advanced his music is, the second his fan hears it, it’s hers to sing together with or dance to. In that sense, SPB’s songs aren’t simply his. They are ours. That is why in his passing, part of our personal historical past is gone.