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'His voice had the unalloyed purity of a copper vessel'

September 28, 2020 10:55 IST
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IMAGE: S P Balasubrahmanyam, left, with Hariharan. Photograph: Kind courtesy Hariharan/Instagram

Hariharan is inconsolable at S P Balasubrahmanyam's passing.

"He was one of a kind," he tells Subhash K Jha.

"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 them. 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 it 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 memorise a song in any language, but he understood the feelings behind the words in every language."

Like Lata Mangeshkar, Hariharan also compares SPB to Kishore Kumar.

"Because SPB was an actor -- he has played prominent roles in dozens of Telugu and Tamil films and 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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