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S.P.B: Legend is an understatement

21 Jul

If we listen to any song in Telugu/Kannada/Tamil, especially songs from late 70’s to the 2000’s the voice we would find for most of these songs would be that of Shri S. P. Balasubramaniam, who ruled the South Indian music industry for over 3 decades (he still sings very well) with his mesmerizing singing.

To list out SPB’s good songs is a pointless exercise as its an ocean by itself. He was extremely talented and lucky to sing with all the best music directors—K.V.Mahadevan, M.S.Vishwanathan, R.D.Burman, Ilaiyaraja (what a team), M.M.Keeravani, A.R.Rahman, Hamsalekha and Vidyasagar, to name a few. The greatest asset of SPB’s singing was the life he gave to a song of ANY genre. According to me Mohd. Rafi and SPB are the two best singers for voice modulation and conveying the exact emotions of a song. If its a fast-paced song SPB would make you dance, if it was a sad song he would literally move you to tears. He would speak thro’ his songs, such was his genius. To cite an example—who can forget the varied emotions he conveyed in a seemingly innocuous song—Hey Ranga Sri Ranga (from Singaaravelan) where he imitates a pan-chewing guy, makes different sounds according to the song’s mood. SPB is the perfect example of a singer who takes a song to a totally different level. Even a simple tune would sound awesome when SPB lent his voice and embellished it with his own unique touches.

SPB’s statistics are akin to Sachin Tendulkar’s in cricket, a staggering 35,000+ songs in almost over 6 languages! If I am right, after Lata Mangeshkar, he is the singer who has sung the most number of songs. Apart from being a singer, SPB is also a good actor, producer, music program host etc. In spite of so many achievements and awards, SPB is a very humble, humorous and down-to-earth person who has endeared himself to millions of fans all over India.


P. Jayachandran: Master of Melody

28 May

P. Jayachandran is a legendary singer who has always kept a low profile in spite of singing several hit songs in Malayalam and Tamil. He has sung many Tamil songs under Ilaiyaraja and almost all the songs were wonderful melody songs and most of them were duets. He has sung a few songs for other music directors like A.R.Rahman, Vidyasagar, G.V.Prakash etc. Here is a list of some memorable songs rendered by this soft-spoken, very talented singer.


  1. Poova Eduthu-Ilaiyaraja-Amman Kovil Kizhakaale-A song with an unconventional tune set in Mayamalagowla raaga, sung with the nightingale S.Janaki.
  2. Raasathi Unna-Ilaiyaraja-Vaidehi Kaathirundhaal-One of his biggest hits ever, an unforgettable number.
  3. Vizhiye-Ilaiyaraja-Thazhuvaatha Kaikal-A relatively unknown song but a very good one in Kalyani raaga.
  4. Poo Mudithu-Ilaiyaraja-En Purushanthaan Ennakumattumthaan-One of the best songs you can hear in Hamsadhwani raaga, sung with Sunandha.
  5. Kodiyile Malligapoo-Ilaiyaraja-Kadalora Kavithaigal-A song tailor-made for Jayachandran, sung with S.Janaki, very emotional number!
  6. En Mel Vizhundha-A.R.Rahman-May Maadham-A soft number sung with Chitra, great lyrics by Vairamuthu.
  7. Oru Deivam Thantha-A.R.Rahman-Kannathil Muthamittal-I like the Jayachandran version more than the Chinmayi one, one of Rahman’s best songs.
  8. Poovanathil-Vidyasagar-Thambi-A nice number.
  9. Kanavellam Palikithey-G.V.Prakash-Kireedam-I was so happy that GVP chose Jayachandran to sing this song as we were hearing him in Tamil after a long time. His voice sounded so good! This is an inspirational song sung with the singer-of-the moment, Karthik.


  1. Ariyathey-Suresh Peters-Raavan Prabhu-A brilliant composition in Darbaari raaga, sung with Chitra.
  2. Prayam Nammil-Vidyasagar-Niram-One of my favourite songs of Jayachandran, listen to it, its very addictive!
  3. Therirangum Mugile-Suresh Peters-Mazhathuli Kilukkam-A song with superb piano and guitar interludes.
  4. Aararum Kaanaathey-Vidyasagar-Chandrolsavam
  5. Kallayee Kadavathu-M.Jayachandran-Perummazhakaalam
  6. Chitramani Kaatil-Deepak Dev-Symphony-The ideal song to listen at night, so mellow!

Madhu Balakrishnan: One of my current favourites!

27 Jan

I am sure you must have heard about Madhu Balakrishnan, who I feel is one of the best among the current singers. Madhu is the brother-in-law of Indian pace ace Sreesanth. Madhu nowadays is a frequent singer in almost all the South Indian languages, though he is from Kerala. He has some wonderful songs in Malayalam & Tamil. Most of his Tamil songs have been under Ilaiyaraja & Vidyasagar who have wonderfully tapped his potential of singing melodies/semi-classical songs. Madhu has a stunning base and is excellent at giving appropriate sangathis/variations to a song. Here are some of my favourite Madhu Balakrishnan songs, don’t miss these 🙂 I have written some of these songs in my earlier post on Vidyasagar! Pardon my repetition here!

  1. Edhilum Ingu-Bharathi-Ilaiyaraja-a brilliant song in rare Rasikaranjini raaga.
  2. Kandaen Kandaen-Madhurey-Vidyasagar-a dulcet duet with Sadhna Sargam.
  3. Ding Dong-Ji-Vidyasagar-the same musical team as above and the same magic!
  4. Kanaa Kandaenadi-Parthiban Kanavu-Vidyasagar-a masterpiece in Anandabhairavi raaga.
  5. Pirayae Pirayae-Pithamagan-Ilaiyaraja-haunting song, haunting music, superb lyrics!
  6. Guruvayur Unnikannan-Aanachandham-Jaison J Nair-a wonderful tune in Vasantha raaga.
  7. Pesa Madandhaiye-Mozhi-Vidyasagar-a gem of a song!
  8. Vasantha Nilaavin-Sooryan-Ilaiyaraja-What a song in Sriranjini raaga, only Madhu could have sung this! The modulations he gives in the first charanam is just amazing!
  9. Vizhiyum Vizhiyum-Chathurangam-Vidyasagar-A duet with Harini, splendid song.
  10. Ippavae Ippavae-Raman Thediya Seethai-the Vidyasagar/Madhu combo rarely disappoints.
  11. Raaverayay Poove-Rock n Roll-Vidyasagar-nice song.
  12. Chentharmizhi-Perummazhakalam-M.Jayachandran-A must-listen duet with Chitra set in the soothing Neelambari raaga.
  13. Konja Neram-Chandramukhi-Vidyasagar-A duet with Asha Bhosle set in Bageshri raaga.
  14. Yen Swaasathil-Jerry-Ramesh Vinayakam-An unnoticed brilliant song, a duet with Kalyani. Ramesh Vinayakam (the unsung talent) shows his class here!
  15. Pichaipaathiram-Naan Kadavul-Ilaiyaraja-another great song in the “Pirayae Pirayae” league. I am hooked to this now!


19 Oct

Mohammed Rafi-the phenomenon continues to live among us through his songs. Sonu Nigam, one of his most famous fans (or should I say devotee?) has done an amazing project, which has released quite recently-RAFI RESURRECTED. Basically, Sonu has collaborated with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) to sing 16 songs of Rafi with a grand orchestral setup.

As expected the result is stupendous! I bought the CD recently & it was worth every penny because:

  1. It contains a booklet (about 30 pages) of rare Rafi photographs & a mini-biography of the legend.
  2. The CBSO has done a marvellous job of exactly replicating the music for most of the songs and the soul of the song has not been tampered with. Its so nice to listen to live instruments especially in today’s age of electronic synth music.
  3. Sonu has sung with his heart-it shows!

For all Rafi fans out there-for lovers of vintage Hindi music, this is a MUST-BUY. Go get your copy-its priceless!! Let us support such projects by buying the original CD’s, that’s the least we can do and spread the word too 🙂

Hariharan-My Favourite Singer

9 Apr
I had an opportunity to listen to acclaimed ghazal singer Shri Hariharan in one of the ghazal concerts recently. The concert lasted for about 3 hrs and we were in bliss for those 3 hrs. The genius of his singing is difficult to describe. Hariharan is a master of Carnatic and Hindustani music. It is so evident in his singing. That evening he sang with so much variety and range that it was mind-boggling to listen to him. Moreover the accompanists in guitar, flute, sarangi, tabla & keyboard were maestros themselves. I can say that he is the best singer I have heard ever. (Though there are many who are close to him like Rafi, Yesudas & SPB) He has some great ghazal albums to his credit like Hazir, Kaash, Gulfam, Paigham et al.
I also follow Hariji’s singing in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu & Malayalam. He has rendered some wonderful melodies in these languages too. Music dirs like Rahman, Vidyasagar, Vishal Bharadwaj & Ilaiyaraja have given some immortal melodies thro’ him. I have earlier attended 2 of Hariharan’s concerts before where he sang tamil songs.
There’s a lot to look forward to from Hariharan in the future..a new ghazal album, another Colonial Cousins album, more film singing…..its definitely going to be exciting……

Mohd. Rafi-Legend Beyond Compare

24 Jan
In the 1950’s Hindi music was fortunate to be served by a voice which was sheer magic-the voice of Mohd. Rafi saab. There were many factors which made Rafi saab a legend.

Firstly, he had a voice which was so melodious, which was purely God’s gift to him. Secondly, he was also fortunate to be born in a family which was into music. He was trained by his father or uncle (I am not sure of it) in Hindustani classical music. Owing to this he had a very versatile voice. Whether it was a classical song, a fast song, a romantic song or a sad song, Rafi saab would do absolute justice to it. When he sang, you could feel the emotion so clearly, such was his involvement in the song.

Rafi saab once held the record for the most number of songs sung in Indian Cinema by a male singer (about 25,000!!! ). The greatest quality of Rafi saab which is spoken about even today by his contemporaries like Lataji, Ashaji was his remarkable humility. It seems he has sung many songs even free for producers, who did not have the money to pay him. Such was the magnanimity of the man. The music dirs who utilised his voice brilliantly were Naushad, Roshan, Madan Mohan, O.P. Nayyar and Shankar-Jaikishan. To pick out the best songs of Rafi saab is an impossible exercise because there were too many.

Today’s legendary singers like S.P.Balasubramanian, Yesudas, Sonu Nigam look up to Rafi saab as their eternal inspiration. They have openly declared their respect and love for his voice and songs. Rafi saab passed away in July 1980 but his voice is heard even today if you switch on the radio-it was the golden voice and his time was one of the golden times of Hindi Music. May Rafi saab live in our hearts forever.