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    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    February 08, 2006

    SPB, Shankarabharanam etc.

    While on the way to and from my classes at IIM last week, I was listening to an audio tape of Shankarabharanam. I hadn't heard the songs for quite a while and I was really blown away by two factors: KV Mahadevan's music and SP Balasubramaniam's singing.

    I won't bore you about the story by K Vishwanath. You could head off to Wikipedia or the IMDB to know more.

    What was amazing is the fact that SPB, who was 33 in 1979 when the movie released, managed to sound like a sixty year old Carnatic music singer played by the late Somayajulu. Imagine the voice modulation and changes he would have imposed upon his voice in order to sound 27 years older!

    All this in addition to the fact that he didn't really have any sort of background as a Carnatic music singer, having only kelvi gyaanam. Of course, he would have prepared himself for the songs by going through training before the songs recording started, but I remember an interview he gave sometime in the 1990s about how he was astounded by the way K Vishwanath was able to extract Carnatic music out of him, who had never had any formal training in the art.

    Sankarabharanam is indeed a treat to the ears. When I listened to the songs after 3-4 years, they enthralled me to no end.

    His versatility is amazing. He has been around in the industry for 26 years now and right from his rendition of "Aayiram nilave vaa" for MGR in Adimai Penn to "Sakkarai inikira sakkarai" for SJ Surya in New (the part where he begins with 'eh hey hey hey hey hey'), he has astounded me. The high pitch he reached in 'Azhagana rakshasiye' when singing "Killiye, aalangilliye" was superb. Only he could have done it. Although he has denied it in a few interviews, he obviously sounds different when he sings for different actors. You can more or less make out the difference between the way he renders a song for Kamal from one for Rajini to one for Vijay/Surya/Ajit etc. I guess as far as Tamil film songs are concerned, only TM Soundararajan used to do that, when he sung for MGR, Sivaji, 'Gemini' etc.

    Actually I have always been more of a Yesudas fan. I've never quite liked SPB's pronunciation. It isn't as clear as Yesudas or 'Malaysia' Vasudevan's. He tends to make it appear as though he is "swallowing" some words, mazhuppardhu as I'd put it in Tamil. But SPB beats them for longevity in the industry. In a sense, he is like Asha Bhonsle, ever in sync with the times ... and almost never jarring to the ear!


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