The last rites of singing legend S.P. Balasubrahmanyam (SPB) have been performed in Chennai on Saturday (September 26) afternoon with police honours amidst elaborate security arrangements. The Tamil Nadu police had paid tribute through 72-gun salute. SPB, who expired on Thursday, is survived by his wife Savitri, daughter Pallavi, and son S.P. Charan. Singer and producer, Charan has been informing SPB’s fans and well-wishers everyday about his father’s health condition.
SPB was admitted to MGM healthcare for COVID-19 on 5 August 2020. Althogh, he tested negative subsequently, his general health had not improved and he continued to be on ventilator. Famous director Bharatiraja, actors Kamal Haasan, Rajinikant, Vijay, Ilaiyaraja, A.R. Rahman, Devi Sri Prasad, Janaki, Susheela, Salman Khan and many other Bollywood actors and musicians had paid rich tributes the great musician. SPB had a great following in north India for his popular Hindi songs. The last rites were attended by Andhra Pradesh Minister for Irrigation, Anil Kumar Yadav, who represents SPB’s native town in AP Assembly, and AIADMK leader Jayakumarand.
Body taken to farm house
SPB was taken to his Red Hills Farmhouse in Thamaraipakkam in the Thiruvallur district on Friday evening. Family members paid their last respects to the famous singer at his Nungambakkam residence in Chennai. Balasubrahmanyam was born in Nellore on 4 June 1946. SPB’s sister, S. P. Sailaja, also an accomplished singer, was very much attached to him. Their father S.P. Sambamurthy was a harikatha exponent and a scholar in Telugu. Sambamurthy wanted his son to settle down as an engineer but SPB was destined to become a legendary singer.
Balasubrahmanyam was on a visit to Hyderabad, before being admitted to hospital, to participate in a recording programme. Many singers who participated in the programme tested positive. However, as they were all younger persons, they could overcome COVID. SPB, who is 74, could not recover from the illness. Doctors, in general, commented that it was because of lack of scientific temper that a person of SPB age was made to travel from Chennai to Hyderabad and participate in an elaborate programme where he appeared without a mask.
It is learnt that Vice-President of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu, who hails from the same town as SPB, Nellore, had intervened to help his friend by getting the massaging machine from Apollo Hospitals moved to MGM. Naidu is understood to have spoken to Dr. Reddy of Apollo group to facilitate the shifting of the machine. But it was not enough to save the angel with a distinctive baritone voice. In fact, on 14 August, the doctors said the COVID symptoms were mild and he was stable. On Thursday the hospital health bulletin said there was a sudden dip in his heath condition and on Friday, his son Charan announced that his father had died a little after 1.00 p.m. As SPB is a Lingadhari Brahmin who wore Shivalinga was buried as per the custom.
Songs in 16 languages
SPB had a long and distinguished profile singing over 40,000 songs in 16 language and won national awards six times. He bagged countless Nandi Awards. He was given Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. He made his debut as a playback singer in 1966 with Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna, a Telugu film. Ghanasala the playback singer who was ruling the roost at that time was very much involved in his profession. Senior actors used to prefer Ghantasala to sing for them. Only Krishna, a hero, had encouraged SPB to sing for all his pictures. Later, the senior artists also opted for SPB as he had the genius of adapting himself to suit the actor’s voice. Although the Telugu cinema had gradually shifted its base from Chennai to Hyderabad, SPB stayed put in Chennai since he was in demand in Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam movies, besides Telugu. ‘Paduta Tiyaga,’ a film songs programme anchored by SPB for ETV for decades has been very famous. It had created fans for Balu, as he was fondly called by his friends and admirers, in every household. This programme had produced many singers in Telugu. He would remain immortal through his thousands of melodious songs.