“You want the voice to create a vibe, construct an atmosphere and inform a narrative. In SPB’s case, he was without delay the singer, the lover, the actor.”
Because the pallavi (first paragraph) of MSV’s Sippi irukkudu muthum irukkudu ends, giving technique to a pleasant instrumental interlude, I discover myself getting alert each single time. I do know exactly what I’m ready for and don’t wish to miss, whereas getting predictably carried away in that easy but engaging tune.
Actors Sridevi and Kamal Haasan within the track ‘Sippi irukkudu muthum irukkudu,’ from the film Varumayin Niram Sivappu.
It’s to listen to SPB say “C’mon, say it as soon as once more”, with a lot fondness and camaraderie. Sridevi throws a meter-and-tune problem at Kamal Haasan, asking him to reply with poetry. On the finish of the trade (captured memorably in dialog and music by SPB-Janaki in Kannadasan’s phrases), they acknowledge their love for one another. And I affirm mine for SPB. His talking voice interspersing strains of a track invariably makes me grin. Simply the best way that flirty chuckle of his, in konjam maranju paakkava, illa mudugu thekkava (Pothi vecha malliga mottu), does.
It appears an irony to be reminded of the talking voice of one of many best playback singers ever, arguably the most effective in India – whether or not you’re taking benchmarks in amount or high quality. If a track had been nearly music, then, the performer’s singing [or playing] approach and the talent to precisely execute a musical thought is all it is going to take. However when a track is an expertise for an artiste, prefer it was for SPB in every of these 40,000-odd numbers, approach or talent alone received’t do. You want the voice to create a vibe, construct an atmosphere and inform a narrative. In SPB’s case, he was without delay the singer, the lover, the actor.
“I’m actor. I can emote very properly bodily and my potential to emote with voice is barely an extension of that,” he informed me in an interview in 2012, talking of the “edge” he might need had. That was one among three events I noticed SPB shut, in individual. The opposite two had been in Jaffna, in Sri Lanka, the place he carried out in 2016, to an enormous gathering; and in Colombo, the place he obtained an award from the Kamban Kazhagam in February this yr, simply earlier than coronavirus (COVID-19) struck this a part of the world, and months earlier than it bought to him. Scores of his followers who gathered at Ramakrishna Corridor, situated in Colombo’s predominantly Tamil space of Wellawatte, had been ecstatic, particularly when he sang a number of strains. SPB reciprocated the sentiment, but in addition mentioned how thrilled he was to share the stage with fellow-awardee Kumar Sangakkara that evening. “Cricket is my biggest ardour after music,” he informed the viewers.
A trusted witness
For these of us born within the 70s, 80s, and 90s, or others born earlier or later however as addicted, SPB was a trusted witness to our love tales – previous, current, unrequited, forgotten. It was unimaginable to fall in love, or out of affection, with out him, all of the extra when he teamed up with maestro Ilaiyaraja. When you might have SPB’s voice for firm and luxury, peaceable solitude appeared overrated.
His profession started within the Sixties, however each era born after that sees him as their icon. He by no means stopped being up to date within the five-plus many years his profession spanned, and his voice refused to bear any signal of age, fatigue or overuse.
Many have marvelled at the truth that an artiste of his stature emerged with no formal coaching. Many have been awe-struck by his versatility – his unmatched potential to traverse genres with equal ease and familiarity. However there’s something extra important in the best way he introduced these totally different kinds – be it a typical carnatic flavour, like within the blockbuster Sankarabharanam, or the contagiously free-spirited ancestors of at this time’s kuthu pattu, comparable to Aey aatha aathorama vaariya or Yen jodi manja kuruvi – he confirmed that it was attainable for an “untrained voice” to sing each with enviable mastery and musical acumen. On the identical time, not all skilled voices can sing both or each as convincingly, as singers with rigorous coaching would repeatedly show of their makes an attempt on actuality reveals.
Nonetheless, for a listener, there was no have to get his songs “proper”. Summoning any emotion at will in his songs, SPB spoke straight to every of us. Regardless of which model or how advanced his track is, the second his fan hears it, it’s hers to sing together with or dance to. In that sense, SPB’s songs aren’t simply his. They’re ours. That’s the reason in his passing, part of our personal historical past is gone.