Tribute to Ganagandharva SPB
His song is my Guru: Music Director Raghu Kunche
SPB's loss is more than a death of a celebrity or their favourite singer to any. From the days when at every home the day started with All India Radio and was always there playing in the background, at home, on the way, in the bus – Balu's voice has been with them. Like an unseen presence that has constantly been there through thick and thin, through good times and bad; every day, every memory. His stint in the popular medium, television brought him even closer to his fans. It is no wonder that his death that came out of the blue, affected millions of his fans. Those who love his music love him beyond caste, religion, and beyond even SP Balasubramanyam. It is unconditional love and inconsolable grief that finds no reprieve. The fact that he stayed close to his fans through his videos and music even during the lockdown only makes it worse as one wonders if it was not for Corona he would have continued to spread his magic – his music.
The film industry, especially many singers and music directors, are still grappling with the loss. Some amongst them, who have known him and worked with him, and who have grown with his music, share a few songs from their list of favourites, which we present here.
Music Director Raghu Kunche has been an ardent admirer of the legendary singer. And it was only last year for the film 'Palasa' he had the opportunity to direct SPB for a song. He shares, "SPB sir, this name has a great place in my life. Dronacharya had Ekalavya. And I am like his Ekalavya; his song has been my Guru. His music has played a major role in moulding me as a singer. One of the first songs, I learnt fully was 'Ravi Varma Ke Andani Oke Oka Andaanivo'. It was this song that gave me confidence that I can indeed become a singer. When I used to meet Balu sir, he would always say – 'Raghu do not imitate me. Develop your own style'. I could never get myself to sing his songs in a different style; but I did start working on my style of singing. In my journey with his songs, not one day goes by without listening or remembering his songs. For the first time I had the opportunity to record a song with him for 'Palasa'. I composed a song 'O Sogasari' in 1970s retro style, in B&W. We thought it will be nice if he sings it. He heard the song and agreed to sing for the film. It is a beautiful song. But, unfortunately it may have been his last song. If that is so, then I will hold on to that moment preciously in my heart. The way he left all of us has been devastating."
A Few Gems from Raghu Kunche's 'SPB' Playlist
Priyathama Naa Hrudayama from the film 'Prema'. Music Direction: Ilaiyaraja
Nee Navvu Cheppindi Naatho from 'Antham' with S Janaki. Music Direction: Mani Sharma
Neelalu Kaarena from 'Mudda Mandaram' with S janaki. Music Direction: Ramesh Naidu
Anjali Anjali from 'Duet' with Chitra. Music Direction: AR Rehman
Sarikotha Cheera from 'Pelli Pustakam'. Music Direction: KV Mahadevan
O Sogasari from 'Palasa' with Pasala Baby Music Direction: Raghu Kunche
Kusalama from 'Balipeetham' with P Susheela. Music Direction: K Chakravarthy
'Selayeti Gala Gala from 'Thulasi' with P Susheela. Music Direction: Ghantasala
Aamani Paadave from 'Geethanjali'. Music Direction: Ilaiyaraja
Ade Neevu Ade Nenu from 'Abhinandana'. Music Direction: Ilaiyaraja
It is ironical how his songs are a reminder of his unfortunate death, yet are the balm to help deal with grief of his loss.