The relationship between maestro AR Rahman and renowned playback singer SP Balasubrahmanyam was cherished by many. Their artistic journey began in 1992 with the timeless masterpiece "Kaadhal Rojave," and their remarkable collaborations have continued to captivate audiences ever since. However, SP Balasubrahmanyam's untimely death in 2020 left a void in the hearts of music lovers worldwide.

Together, they created unforgettable songs such as "Anjali Anjali," "Maya Machindra," "Vetrikodi Kattu," "Thoda Thoda," "Oruvan Oruvan," and "Minnalae." Their live performances also attracted a significant fan base. Unfortunately, their planned final show never materialized. Despite numerous discussions, SPB's untimely death prevented this dream from coming to fruition.

“In January (2020), I saw a recording of him singing ‘En Kadhale’ and it sounded just the same. After seeing the recording, I called him and said, ‘Why don’t we take songs that you have not sung for me, of the past 10 years, and do an unplugged version?’ He was very excited. We almost planned the recording and even the arrangement was fixed, and that’s when Covid-19 happened. We thought prayers were going to help him. There’s no use brooding over his loss; we should celebrate him,” Rahman shared with The Hindu, visibly moved.

“SPB was a superman. 40,000 is almost 1,000 people’s bandwidth. Some people do just 20 songs in their lifetime. But he succeeds every time. He was amazing in every way,” Rahman added.

Reflecting on his early years working with SPB, Rahman recounted, “My entire five years in the Telugu industry was just waiting for SPB. He almost sang every song (that the industry was producing). I used to go to the respective studios at 7 am, set up my equipment, and rehearse everything. At 12 o’clock we’ll be waiting. (If we ask someone) what happened? (They will say) SPB has to come; he is singing for Ilaiyaraaja. He’ll finish that, come at 12.45 pm, learn our song in 10 minutes or so, finish recording it by 1.15, and then boom, he’s gone. This was what I watched every day.”

SP Balasubrahmanyam passed away at the age of 74 on September 25, 2020, following complications from Covid-19. He tested positive for the virus in the first week of August and was later moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of MGM Healthcare in Chennai after his condition worsened. He remained on ventilator and ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) support until his last breath.

On his birthday, we remember SP Balasubrahmanyam for his extraordinary contributions to music and his enduring legacy.

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Source : Indian Express, The Hindu