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S.P. Balasubrahmanyam (1946-2020): Ten tracks to remember the singer

The renowned playback singer died this afternoon, leaving behind scores of fond memories for movie fans across the country

S.P. Balasubrahmanyam was one of the most popular Indian playback singers of all time
S.P. Balasubrahmanyam was one of the most popular Indian playback singers of all time

S.P. Balasubrahmanyam died this afternoon at MGM Healthcare in Chennai. He was 74. The playback singer had tested positive for the coronavirus in August and had been in hospital for a month.

SPB, as his fans called him, began his film singing career in the 1960s. By the ‘70s, he was a huge star, singing across the Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi industries. Known to Hindi viewers as the voice of Kamal Haasan in Ek Duuje Ke Liye and Saagar, he later sang for Salman Khan in two of the biggest hits of the ‘90s, Maine Pyaar Kiya and Hum Aapke Hain Koun. Here are 10 tracks from his Hindi film career to remember SPB by.

Sach Mere Yaar Hai (1985)

Balasubrahmanyam sang the classic O Maria for this Kamal Haasan, Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia film, but an even more iconic performance on the same album was Sach Mere Yaar Hai. His rich voice seems to underline the wistful wisdom of the track.

Joote Do, Paise Lo (1994)

Hum Aapke Hain Koun is arguably the pinnacle of Balasubrahmanyam in Hindi cinema, with the singer featuring on hits like Didi Tera Devar Deewana, Mausam Ka Jaadu and Pehla Pehla Pyaar Hai. He was at his most delightful on the comic wedding song Joote Do, Paise Lo, exchanging verbal barbs with Lata Mangeshkar.

Dil Deewana (1989)

Dil Deewana, sung first for a lovestruck, then a lovelorn Salman Khan by Balasubrahmanyam in Maine Pyar Kiya, was a quintessential early '90s hit.

Door Na Ja Mujh Se (1997)

This solo track from Sapnay won Balasubrahmanyam a National Award for best playback singer (male). As he did two years earlier with Asha Bhosle on Rangeela Re, AR Rahman keeps the surrounding music spare and lets SPB writhe in erotic surrender.

Mere Jeevan Saathi (1981)

S.P. Balasubrahmanyam at his most Kishore Kumar. His exuberant delivery on this track from Ek Duuje Kiye Le was perfect for Kamal Haasan’s manic performance.

Bahut Pyaar Karte Hain (1991)

Salman Khan and SPB were an unlikely star duo. This song from Saajan was one of the many hits he sang for the actor in the 1990s.

Roja Jaaneman (1992)

This moody track from the Roja soundtrack is memorable for the way Balasubrahmanyam’s voice builds at the end of every verse into a startling cry of ‘Roja’.

Anando Bramho (1990)

This irresistibly catchy song by Ilaiyaraja for Ram Gopal Varma’s Shiva has Balasubrahmanyam in delightful form duetting with Kavita Krishnamurti.

Jhoom Jhoom Nacho (1993)

From the Hindi version of Thiruda Thiruda soundtrack album comes this duet with Chitra. AR Rahman keeps the orchestration light and lets the singer’s voice ring out in a way it’s rarely allowed to.

Teri Payal Mere Geet (1993)

An eclectic meeting of talents—Balasubrahmanyam, veteran composer Naushad Ali and actors Govinda and Meenakshi Sheshadri—resulted in this melodious track from the 1993 film of the same name.

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