The Timeless Gems of SP Bala
The Timeless Gems of SP Bala

The Timeless Gems of SP Bala

The playback singer who dominated Bollywood film music in the 1980s and the 1990s passed away at the age of 74 last Friday.
Updated 26 Sep, 2020 01:41pm

He may have breathed his last on 25th September 2020, but SP Balasubramanium’s greatest hits will always remain his legacy. The playback singer who dominated the Hindi film music in the 1980s and the 1990s passed away at the age of 74 last Friday, leaving his countless fans shocked and saddened. However, he left his melodious and sweet voice behind to remember him by, and we will try to relive some of his songs to pay a tribute to some of his timeless gems.

Film: Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981)

Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal

"Mere Jeevan Saathi"

SP Bala made his debut in the late 1960s in regional cinema but he entered Hindi films quite late, at a time when Bollywood was in search for someone to replace Mohammad Rafi. His entry was perfect since he sang for his frequent collaborator Kamal Haasan on his Hindi film debut, who played a character who didn’t know Hindi yet wanted to express himself to his girlfriend who didn’t understand his language. In this song, SP Bala shows his class as the lines he was asked to deliver were nothing but names of Bollywood hits, yet the way he delivered them became part of the folklore.

Film: Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981)

Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal

"Tere Mere Beech"

And when his character had learned Hindi in the same film, it was time to experience heartache. This song went onto be copied as well as inspire many in the 1980s, when the music scene was changing and the listeners were accepting people from all over India. The Kamal Haasan - SP Bala combo became so popular through this film that people began comparing them with the reigning kings of Bollywood.

Film: Ek Hi Bhool (1981)

Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal

"Raju O Daddy"

In his first year in Bollywood, SP Bala bagged a number of songs that went onto become instant hits, with this song featuring Jumping Jack Jeetendra in a non-jumping character. Sung with a very young Raageshwari who provided the vocals for the kid, SP Bala expressed himself in an emphatic manner. His onscreen avatar is talking to his son but also blackmailing him in a good way. His vocals, expressions and emotions were a treat to listen here and one of the main reasons why this song still remains popular after 40 years!

Film: Saagar (1985)

Music: RD Burman

"O Maria"

All the Marias in the world remember this song but so do those who could detect a quality film number from afar. On being reunited with Kamal Haasan, SP Bala delivered a romantic number that wouldn’t have been possible without his input. Composed by RD Burman and sung with Asha Bhosle who provided vocals for the original Bobby Dimple Kapadia, SP Bala’s sweetness, his emotions and expressive gestures were the main ingredients of this number that still keeps inspiring upcoming music composers.

Film: Saagar (1985)

Music: RD Burman

"Sach Mere Yaar"

Although this Ramesh Sippy flick featured Kishore Kumar as the main vocalist for Rishi Kapoor, it was SP Bala who got the songs a playback singer dreams of. Here, he sings for Kamal Haasan’s character who has lost the love of his life to his buddy, is going through a devastating phase yet is happy that at least his ladylove will have a future she deserves. The sorrow, the heartache, and the feelings are all there in SP Bala’s voice, and if that doesn’t convince you of his genius, nothing will.

Film: Maine Pyar Kiya (1989)

Music: Raamlaxman

"Dil Deewana"

And then came Salman Khan, and with him, SP Bala entered the fray as the voice of the new kid on the block. The two were inseparable during the 1989 – 1994 phase and delivered countless hits mostly for Raamlaxman who composed one classic song after another. This song maybe just one of the many hits from Maine Pyar Kiya but it shows that when two restless souls meet, they create magic!

Film: Patthar Ke Phool (1991)

Music: Raamlaxman

"Kabhi Tu Chhalia Lagta Hai"

This song became a rage like the other numbers from this film as SP Bala and Lata Mangeshkar paid a tribute to the classic era of Bollywood; remember the 3 Idiots song where Saif Ali Khan imagined himself onscreen while watching a film in the cinema, this was the original inspiration. Raveena Tandon was a newcomer but with Salman Khan, they looked so good that people wanted them to work in more films, but at that time, he hadn’t worked with a girl named Madhuri.

Film: Saajan (1991)

Music: Nadeem - Shravan

"Bahut Pyar Karte Hain"

The combo of SP Bala and Salman Khan was back and they couldn’t have asked for a better film. Saajan may have featured Sanjay Dutt in a career-changing role, and compositions that established Nadeem – Shravan as King of the 90s, it was SP Bala who was the soul of the movie due to his chartbusters including this song. It was a plagiarized version of a Pakistani song yet managed to become a rage alongside the other tracks from the movie.

Film: Love (1991)

Music: Anand - Milind

"Saathiya Yeh Tune Kia Kiya"

It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that without Saathiya, the 1990s would be incomplete. Written by Majrooh Sultanpuri and composed by Anand – Milind, the team behind Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, this song was sung by SP Bala and KS Chitra, and was overburdened with so much sweetness that whoever heard it, fell in love with it. The two sang as many as four songs in the movie together (SP Bala had five in total, including one solo) but nothing managed the effect of this number.

Film: Roja (1992)

Music: AR Rahman

"Roja Jaan e Mann"

It was natural for AR Rahman to pick an outsider for Roja because first, he was an outsider himself at that time, and second, he needed someone to give his very best for what he believed was a perfect composition. That’s why he chose SP Bala who sang for him in other languages as well and gave his songs the feeling they commanded. Although Hariharan also sang the second version of this classic, it is the SP Bala song that everyone remembers.

Film: Gardish (1993)

Music: RD Burman

"Hum Na Samjhe The"

People remember 1942 A Love Story as RD Burman’s best work in the 1990s but Gardish wasn’t far behind. With SP Bala singing four of the six numbers in the film, it managed to become a huge hit, the last one in RD’s life who passed away a few months later. Although this song is played in the background, you can feel the intensity of SP Bala’s powerful vocals that might bring down a tear or two from your eyes.

Film: Hum Aapke Hain Koun (1994)

Music: Raamlaxman

"Didi Tera Devar Deewana"

The year 1994 was a year to remember for SP Bala fans; he had 9 songs in the movie and was the voice of Salman Khan who played Madhuri Dixit’s Romeo in this family drama. All the songs became popular but this one is remembered for the chemistry between Madhuri and Salman Khan. SP Bala makes his entry late in the song but he couldn’t have asked for a better entrance.

Film: Hum Aapke Hain Koun (1994)

Music: Raamlaxman

"Pehla Pehla Pyar"

If you were in love in the 1990s, then this song must have been part of your go-to collection; girls loved it because SP Bala’s voice poured love into their souls, boys found it intriguing as it helped them relax while professing love. Even after 25 years, this chartbuster hasn’t lost its touch, and part of it is because of the man named SP Bala.

Film: Andaz Apna Apna (1994)

Music: Tushar Bhatia

"Do Mastane Chale"

He wasn’t just limited to romantic songs or tragic ones, SP Bala fitted every situation and excelled at comic ones. He sings for his frequent 1990s collaborator Salman Khan’s Prem who is traveling with Aamir Khan’s Amar to win the heart of a young heiress so that they can become rich without doing much. The lyrics would have gone unnoticed had it been someone else singing them, but with SP Bala and Debashish Dasgupta performing it as it should be, the song became eternal.

Film: Andaz Apna Apna (1994)

Music: Tushar Bhatia

"Yeh Raat Aur Ye Doori"

Salman Khan wouldn’t have excelled at comedy had it not been for SP Bala and Andaz Apna Apna; they were inseparable in the first half of the 90s and this song shows what made them so good together. SP Bala had a masculine voice like Kishore Kumar, expressed like Mohammad Rafi and didn’t shy from adding his two bits, and each character is present in this memorable number where Asha Bhosle’s presence added color to the already colorful song.

Film: Kabhi Na Kabhi (1998)

Music: AR Rahman

"Shukriya Tera Shukriya"

This song came out when the Khans had ousted the Shroffs and Kapoors of Bollywood; Jackie Shroff in a bid to prove that he was still a force to reckon with teamed up with SP Bala and delivered a classic AR Rahman song that remains eternal to this day. Even the presence of Pooja Bhatt looks forced, such is the magnitude of SP Bala’s vocals. Sadly this film was one of his final major ones in Bollywood and he only returned for Chennai Express more than a dozen years later for his final song in the Hindi music industry.