'I had always felt he was on par with international musicians.'
'Everybody realised his worth as a musician only after he left us.'
Music lovers were shocked when Balabhaskar passed away after he sustained serious injuries in a road accident. He was only 40.
Balabhaskar, described by all as a child prodigy, became the youngest composer for a film at the age of 17.
He was a complete musician: Singer. Violinist. Composer.
Josy Alappuzha, who knew Balabhaskar for 20 years and played the flute with him, remembers the gifted musician.
I met Balu even before we worked together on his immensely popular album, Ninakkayi.
Our friendship flourished after I played the flute for this album. He must have been less than 20 at that time, but was already a well-known name in Kerala.
While working with him, I felt that what he was creating was something not done before in Malayalam.
Till then, Malayalis were used to listening to film music or devotional songs, and here was a young, extremely talented, musician composing an album dedicated to love.
Ninakkayi was a new concept and all the music lovers of Kerala accepted it with much love.
If you hear many such albums today, and if they are all successful, they have to thank Balabhaskar for that.
He started the trend and many young musicians followed him. But there is only one Balabhaskar and nobody can take his place, ever.
Balu was born to sing, compose music and play the violin.
His life was so intertwined with music from a very young age that we just cannot separate his life from music. That's why he became a child prodigy and a legendary figure later.
Balu made fusion music popular in Kerala and it all began with a show for Asianet.
He had called me as a guest for a special episode for Christmas and in that episode, we did a piece he had composed. After that, he started inviting me for many of his television programmes.
Though he was younger, our thoughts on music were similar and that was how we associated ourselves as musicians in many programmes.
We were more of friends than colleagues. He always looked at me as an elder brother, listened to and respected my opinion.
At the same time, he pushed me to do something original, something of my own.
He would say, 'Chetta (elder brother), you have it in you to create something of your own. You should do it.'
Our association as musicians got reduced after he started a band with Stephen (Devassy). By then, there were many youngsters around him.
Of course, I worked with him occasionally. The last time, we were together was six months ago for a music show with Alphons.
A few months ago, he was here in Alapuzha to visit a temple with his little daughter. He called me. I immediately went and met all of them. We spoke about so many things for a very long time. That was the last time I met him.
He was so gifted that I would say he was at least five years ahead as a musician. It was this gift that made him a trendsetter in music.
In the 20 years that I knew him, he reached such heights that it was impossible for other musicians or violinists to be anywhere near him. Very rarely do you see violinists who are such great composers.
He was so unique in his ideas that he didn't have to follow anybody's path; it was the others who followed him.
As a musician, he was pure and never compromised. Perhaps that was why he didn't compose music for many films.
With his talent, he should have been one of the top composers in the film industry, but he was much beyond all that.
I always felt that as a musician, he was on par with international musicians. I feel everybody realised his worth as a musician only after he left us. Look at the outpouring of grief.
His sudden departure is a huge loss. For artistes like us he could take us to a different level when we worked with him.
While others were obsessed with fame, Balu was obsessed only with music. Nothing else mattered to him.
I don't think I will meet anyone like Balabhaskar in my lifetime.