The unmatched voice of music legend SP Balasubrahmanyam or Balu as he is known in the film world, is very easy to identify, heavy yet light on tones with the quality to instantly get absorbed in your soul. In 1989, when a raw Salman Khan came with young Bhagyashree in Maine Pyar Kiya, SPB's soulful number ‘Aate Jaate...’ gave the perfect backdrop to the eternally romantic film, the song tugged at your heartstrings and made the pair immortal.
That was the beginning of SP Balasubrahmanyam being identified as Salman Khan’s voice in the 90s. This Salman-SPB 90s hit pair was very much like Rakesh Khanna-Kishore Kumar or Raj Kapoor-Mukesh, the songs they lip synced brought out the melancholy in the voice like no other. Who can forget the evergreen romantic numbers of Saajan - Tumse Milne Ki Tamanna Hai, Jiye to jiye kaise, Dekha Hai Pehli Baar -- can we even imagine the songs in any other voice? It's hard, the music of Saajan played an important role in making the film memorable. SPB emoting through his voice for fresh faced Salman romancing Madhuri in Dekha Hai Pehli Baar simply disarmed the viewers. The songs had all shades of love in SP Balasubrahmanyam's fluid, mature voice. The singer, who holds a Guinness World Record for recording the highest number of songs, passed away in Chennai on September 25, 2020, after testing positive for coronavirus. He was underging treatment in Chennai. His passing away has indeed left a void.
Balu, who had recorded more than 40,000 songs in 16 Indian languages, was awarded a Padma Shri in 2001 and a Padma Bhushan in 2011. He also won six National Awards. In fact, such was his oeuvre that he won a National Award for the film he made his Bollywood debut with -- 1981 film Ek Duuje Ke Liye. Few know that he was also an actor par excellence, as well as a producer.
As they say ‘Love is a song,’ SPB's immense control over his voice during high pitch to the low transitions and Salman Khan's raw, dishy looks in the films beautifully conveyed the hope and longing of love. And not to mention the pleasure of listening. Thanks, Balu Sir, for your voice that will be with us now and in the generations to come.