Ah, this picture! I took this when I used to frequent Ilayaraaja sir’s studios. SPB would come and sit in the sound engineering room before and after his song recordings. At that time, he wasn’t yet an actor. At least, not in Tamil.
He made his Tamil acting debut in Balachandar’s Manathil Urudhi Vendum where he played a doctor. That was the time he actually got comfortable with pictures being taken of him. But I wouldn’t call him particularly camera shy before that either.
No one who sees Manathil Urudhi Vendum would think that was his acting debut. He was just so effortlessly natural. I think it was on account of his innate ability to act which also comes across in the way he sings.
In his next film as an actor, director Vasanth’s debut movie, Keladi Kanmani, I again had the chance to work with him.
Most people would remember that as the movie with the song Mannil Indha Kaadhal... While it might have been the first time he went breathless for a song, I am sure it wasn’t the first time his listeners have had the breath knocked out of them, thanks to his incredible singing. I couldn’t work with him for his debut as a music director in Sigaram, but I’m glad I got to capture him looking like a composer in this picture. It was such a wonderful moment for me.
(The photographer, Stills Ravi has taken stills for more than 500 films over the last three decades)