The first song SPB sang for me was recorded even before I was cast in the film. The movie was ‘Devara Kannu’ (1975). The song ‘Ninna Neenu Maretharenu’ became a super hit. It was a semi-classical song with ‘alapanas’.
He was next called to sing in ‘Bayalu Dari’ (1977), directed by Dorai-Bhagavan. By then, he had seen my performances. He started bringing an inflection in his voice that sounded just like mine! That spoke volumes of the man’s talent. Thereafter, he was on a roll.
In ‘Naa Ninna Bidalaare’ (1979), ‘Chandanada Gombe’ (1979), ‘Narada Vijaya’ (1980), ‘Baadada Hoo’ (1982), ‘Nanna Devaru’ (1982), ‘Benkiya Bale’ (1983) and ‘Bidugadeya Bedi’ (1985), you couldn’t miss his stamp.
He has given voice to more than 100 songs of mine. To be honest, many of my films received a major boost because of his songs. My performance would be enhanced by his voice.
He was capable of changing his voice to suit a particular actor. He did it in my case, time after time again. Sometimes, he would make spontaneous changes to the songs while singing and I would have to enact it later. I had to do it because what he would do was special.
SPB watched my performance in ‘Hamsageethe’ (1975) and embraced me in happiness. He was one of the busiest singers of those times, singing more than 50 songs during his visits to different Southern cities.
He was a humble person and never had animosity towards anyone. I never saw him hurt anyone. He has sung over 40,000 songs and I am sure many among those were sung for free. He was generous.
In a memorable incident in Mangaluru, he invited me to the popular musical concert called ‘Rasamanjari Sanje’. To my surprise, he asked me to sing one of our hit numbers. Pointing towards SPB, I told the audience that ‘he is my voice and nobody can do justice to my film songs apart from him’.
He was a cheerful, humble, and loving man. Perhaps, our prayers to save him didn’t reach the almighty. There won’t be another SPB.
(As told to Vivek M V, DHNS)