I knew Rahman as a toddler: SP Balasubrahmanyam

Thursday, 25 February 2010 - 11:59pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Singer SP Balasubrahmanyam talks about his absence from Bollywood for a decade and his equation with AR Rahman.

SP Balasubrahmanyam or SPB as he is fondly called, who has sung over 36,000 songs in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi and Malayalam in a career spanning four decades and who holds the Guinness Record for the most number of songs rendered by a male singer, will have another award to add to his mantle. On February 27, SPB will receive the Raagalay Lifetime Music Award 2009. “I’m glad that my work has been recognised,” he smiles.

SPB is also known as the voice for actor Salman Khan but it’s been almost a decade now that he hasn’t lent his vocals to any Bollywood songs.  “I have been singing for Salman for almost a half a decade, ever since Maine Pyar Kiya was a hit. And thereafter, whichever movie he signed on I was called to sing for him. But later I realised that there were other budding singers who could do the job. I also thought why travel all the way from Chennai?”

When asked about the changing scenario in the music industry, he says, “There are two sides to a coin. The pros being that a lot of young singers are getting a stage to showcase their talent and the cons being they just get a couple of chances and end up achieving nothing.”

He further added, “Earlier when the listeners heard radio the RJ did not have to mention the singer’s name as we had a few but the best singers. But now one song which is picturised on one actor has  three singers lending their voices. It’s not only silly but chaotic.  The solution to this is that every music director should choose four to five good singers and polish their talent. This will help the industry.”

When asked about his experience of working with A R Rahman, he says, “I knew Rahman since he was a toddler. I used to go to his house for rehersals as his father Shekhar was a Malayam
music arranger. But after his death Rahman started playing the keyboard for Illyaraja and Rajakoti and others. I found him to be a very soft spoken person. When he did Roja I sang the first song for him. He is a gem of a person. The world knows how great a music director he is but I can speak volumes about Rahman as a person. He is such an honest and God-fearing person. We shouldn’t be surprised if he becomes an iconic legend tomorrow.”

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