Remembering SP Balasubrahmanyam through the MSV era, the Ilaiyaraaja era, and beyond

Posted on September 25, 2020


A journey through the great singer’s songs in Tamil cinema, by the two great composers who used him the most, and used him the best.

How on earth do you write about SPB? How do you contain the vastness of his accomplishments, the vast pleasures he has brought us, in a couple of thousand words? Is it even possible for mere language to express what this man has meant to so many music lovers? All this has been on my mind for the past few days, as we kept getting news about the singer’s deteriorating condition. And this morning, I was talking to my video producer about this. He’s a millennial, a self-confessed “not a songs guy”, and he said he knew SPB as Prabhu Deva’s father in Kadhalan. I smiled as he went on: He danced so gracefully in that ‘panju mittai’ song… He was so big, and yet he had so much elegance and style… Then he thought some more and recalled that every time he thought of SPB, he remembered his grandmother, who told him that “SPB eats ice cream every day and still he sings so well”. This made my producer think he should also eat ice-cream every day, because that’s clearly how greatness is achieved.

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