HYDERABAD: Legendary singer S P Balasubrahmanyam, who died in Chennai on Friday, is a household name in his native Andhra Pradesh and its sibling Telangana, having enthralled music lovers for more than five decades.
It's not an exaggeration to say that people wake up in the morning listening to the mellifluous devotional songs rendered by Balasubrahmanyam and played in temples across the length and breadth of the two Telugu states every day besides enjoying his songs of various genres.
Born as Sripati Panditaradhyula Balasubrahmanyam at Nellore in coastal Andhra Pradesh, Balu or 'Balu garu', as he is respectfully called by his millions of fans, has been a colossus in the Telugu film industry.
He had lent his voice to scores of film actors since 1967 when he made his debut as a playback singer in the Telugu film "Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna".
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From peppy numbers to songs reflecting myriad emotions, Balasubrahmanyam was the ubiquitous playback singer in Telugu films since the 1960s.
Balu sang for generations of film actors in Telugu from legendary N T Rama Rao and Akkineni Nageswara Rao to the present generation of stars.
Telugus, known for their love for cinema, grew up enjoying his songs in films of top-ranking stars, including Sobhan Babu, Krishna in the 1970s and 1980s, Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, Balakrishna, Venkatesh and others since 1980s and 1990s, Mahesh Babu, Allu Arjun and others of present times.
Despite not being a trained singer in Carnatic music, Balasubrahmanyam gained international fame and won awards with the iconic Telugu film Sankarabharanam of veteran filmmaker K Viswanath, released in 1980.
He has bagged numerous awards and honours in the Telugu land during his distinguished career.
Balasubrahmanyam has sung several Christian devotional songs as well in Telugu which have been popular among the faithful.
He has not only been a singer but a multi-faceted personality, excelling as a voice over artist, actor and film producer.
It was he who lent his voice to Kamal Haasan in several films dubbed from Tamil to Telugu.
His acting skills came to the fore in a number of Telugu films, including Pakkinti Ammayi, W/o V Varaprasad, Devullu, Pavithra Bandham, Indra and Mithunam.
He has also featured in several Tamil films like Avvai Shanmughi and Kadhalan which have been runaway successes in their dubbed Telugu versions.
As a film producer, Balasubrahmanyam made memorable Telugu films including Subha Sankalpam (directed by K Viswanath).
Balasubrahmanyam was the host in a hugely popular reality show Paduta Teeyaga, a singing competition, on leading entertainment channel ETV Telugu.
The show provided a platform for young singers to showcase their talent.
Stressing on correct pronunciation, he never missed an opportunity to impress on the budding singers, especially children, to pronounce Telugu words correctly.
Prayers were conducted at various temples in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana by his fans for his quick recovery ever since he was admitted to the hospital in Chennai last month, but fate had it otherwise.