SP Balasubrahmanyam no more

News Network
September 25, 2020

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Chennai, Sept 25: The legendary singer, who was hospitalised in August after testing positive for COVID-19, died on Friday afternoon at a private hospital in Chennai

Legendary playback singer S.P. Balasubrahmanyam passed away at a private hospital at 1.04 p.m. in Chennai on Friday. He was 74.

Balasubrahmanyam was hospitalised in August at MGM Healthcare after testing positive for COVID-19, and while he reportedly did well initially, he took a turn for the worse, and was put on a ventilator and ECMO support.

On September 7, he tested negative for COVID-19 but continued to be on ventilator.

Popularly known as SPB, Balasubrahmanyam made his singing début in 1966 with Telugu movie Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna. He has sung over 40,000 songs in as many as 16 languages including Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, and Hindi.

Balasubrahmanyam was also a voice-over artist. He was the voice-over artist for actor Kamal Hassan, whenever the latter's Tamil movies were dubbed in Telugu. Balasubrahmanyam also acted in a few movies.

He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter — both are playback singers.

Balasubrahmanyam sang thousands of songs in South Indian languages and in Hindi for five decades for generations of actors — from MGR, Sivaji Ganesan and Gemini Ganesan — and was the winner of six national awards.

Paadum Nila (Singing Moon) as he was called by his fans, had a lilting voice with the finest traces of great singers. “His was a breeze-like voice of A.M Raja, with the softness of the P.B. Srinivas and the effortlessness of Mohamed Rafi,” said film music historian Vamanan.

His voice effortlessly captured varied human emotions and feelings. In one scene he would sing a spoof -- annatha adurar othiko -- and in another scene, powerfully express the anguished mind by rendering unna nenachan paatu padichen thangame as seen in Apoorva Sagodharargal. He acted in films such as Manathil Uruthi Vendum, Keladi Kanmani and Sikaram, besides scoring music for some films.

An extremely friendly man who enjoyed his moments with interviewers, SPB once said he was fond of life and never wanted to die.

SPB bagged his first national award for Sankarabharanam, even though all the songs in the Telugu film are based on pure Carnatic ragas. “Even SPB had apprehensions about taking on the assignment as he had no proper training in classical music. It was T.K. Pugazhlendhi, the assistant of music director K.V. Mahadevan, who persuaded SPB to render the songs,” said Mr. Vamanan.

The second time, he won the award for his first Hindi song, Tere Mere Beech Mein in the film Ek Duuje Ke Liye. Two more awards came his way for the Telugu films Sagarasangamam and Rudraveena. Sangeetha Sagara Ganayogi Panchakshara Gavai, the Kannada film won him his fifth national award.

The award for Tamil films eluded him for many years even though his collaboration with music director Ilayaraja and M.S. Viswanathan had resulted in innumerable memorable duets, solos, folk songs, spoofs and songs with classical touches.He finally won it for the song Thanga Thamarai in the film Minsara Kanavu for which the music was scored by A.R. Rahman. SPB, in an interview, said Tamil films offered a lot of scenes and scope in which a song was perfectly suited, without any artificiality.

Born Sripathi Paditha Arathyula Balasubramaniam, in 1946, to Nelloor-based Harikatha exponent Sambamurthy, SPB’s ambition was to become an engineer. His failure to clear a subject in his PUC course forced him to pursue the now-defunct AMIE course in Chennai. But the music in his blood lured him towards singing competitions, and finally to the film world.

His talent was spotted by another playback singer and music director S.P. Kothandapani, who was sitting among the audience at a competition at the Andhra Social and Cultural Society (ASCA) and he provided him with an opportunity to sing in the Telugu film Sri Sri Mariatha Ramanna. SPB was one among four singers — S.P. Kothandapani, P. Susheela, P.B. Srinivas and Eelapada Raguramaiha — who rendered the ragamalika song, Emi Evindha Mogum.

“Anyone who had listened to the part he rendered for Shoban Babu would realise potential in the voice. It proved to be a prelude for a record career in film music,” said Mr. Vamanan.

While he was able to find a toehold in the Telugu industry, the Tamil film industry proved elusive till and an introduction to music director M.S. Viswanthan (MSV) through his friend Bharani. SPB chose to render Nilava Ennidam Nerungathy before MSV, who liked the voice, but had reservations about his Tamil pronunciation. It was actually a chance meeting with MSV that opened the doors of the Tamil film music industry. SPB came in like a fresh breeze with Iyarkai Ennum Ilayakanni, for the film Santhi Nilayam.

“Though the song was recorded first, another song, Aayiram Nilave Vaa in the MGR-starrer Adimaipen reached the public first -- the film was released earlier in the year 1969,” explained Mr. Vamanan.

Both the songs became a hit overnight. SPB would gratefully acknowledge the opportunity given to him by MGR and music director K.V. Mahadevan who introduced him to the future Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

SPB was down with malaria after the rehearsal was over. But MGR waited till he recovered. “MGR told me that he did not want to disappoint me. He felt that I would have informed my friends and if I was not given the opportunity, my friends would not think well of my capacity as a singer,” SPB once said.

Later in the film Suryakanthi, he sang the number Naan Endral Avalum Naanum and late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa rendered the English verses. His playback songs for thespian Sivaji Ganesan, particularly Pootuvaitha Mugamo in Sumathi En Sundari and Emuna Nadhi Inkey in Gowravam were equally popular.

Even though there was an argument that MGR had roped in SPB because of his difference of opinion with T.M. Soundararajan (TMS), Mr. Vamanan said MGR continued to prefer TMS to render duets and songs with political messages. MGR also gave opportunities to K.J. Jesudas and Jayachandran.

SPB sang Aval Oru Navarasa Natakam in the film Ulagam Suttrum Vaaliban and Paadum Pothu Naan Thendral Kattru and Angey Varuvathu Yaro in the film Netru Indru Naalai. MSV continued to use SPB in films of all actors.

Even though he worked with other music directors like V. Kumar, Vijaybaskar and Shayam, SPB’s career graph ascended with the arrival of Ilayaraja and actors such as Rajinikant and Kamal Haasan. Even with Ilayaraja it did not happen immediately. SPB could not get an opportunity in Annakili, Patrakalai, Kavikuyil, Durgadevi, Deepam and Thunai Iruppal Meenakshi.

Once the combination began though, it proved unstoppable. Bhuvana Oru Kelvikuri offered him two outstanding songs — Raja Enbar Mandhiri Enbar and Vizhiyile Malarnthathu. The duets he rendered with S. Janaki were irreplaceable.

At a time when Ilayaraja started dominating film music, MSV’s music for Ninaithale Inikkum rocked, and almost all the songs were rendered by SPB in the film. Later, when MSV and Ilayaraja came together to score music for Mella Thiranthathu Kathavu, SPB was their natural choice.

Actor Mohan benefitted enormously from the music of Ilayaraja and voice of SPB. Almost all the songs in his films proved great numbers. His voice remained eternally youthful and he enthralled his fans by appearing on stage with light music troupes. He and Ilayaraja had a small falling out after the music director prevented him from singing on stage the songs composed by him, based on copyright claims. The two patched up though later, in a public event.

SPB was the favourite singer of MSV and would always cherish the song Ilakkanam Marudho in the film Nizhal Nijamahirathu.

When MSV composed music for Krishna Ganangal penned by Kannadasan, SPB sang the song, the lullaby Ayarpadi Maligaiyil Thaimadiyil Kantrinaipol Mayakannan Thoongukiran. And now, SPB himself will be asleep forever, his voice playing the same lullaby it has played in several homes for decades now.

SPB is no more, but his voice will live on.

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News Network
November 30,2020

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Colombo, Nov 30: At least eight inmates were killed and 50 other inmates and two prison officials were injured when unrest erupted at the Mahara prison here, said Colombo Page citing police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana.

The prison officials were compelled to use minimal force including firing several shots to control the situation, the police spokesman said.

The unrest broke out Sunday afternoon when a group of inmates at the Mahara Prison tried to escape from the prison as another group of inmates was found to be infected with COVID-19, Colombo Page reported.

Five police teams led by Kelaniya SSP and Ragama OIC and also Police Special Task Force were deployed to assist the prison officers to control the situation.

An independent inquiry will be conducted into the incident as well as an inquiry led by the Ministry Secretary, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, State Minister of Prison Reforms and Prisoners Rehabilitation said in parliament regarding the incident.

Investigations regarding the riot in the Mahara prison will be handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to bring the truth to light, she added.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka has reached 23,484, the Johns Hopkins University and Medicine reported on Monday.

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News Network
November 24,2020

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Elon Musk's year of dizzying ascents hit a new apex Monday as the Tesla Inc. co-founder passed Bill Gates to become the world's second-richest person.

The 49-year-old entrepreneur's net worth soared $7.2 billion to $127.9 billion, driven by yet another surge in Tesla's share price. Musk has added $100.3 billion to his net worth this year, the most of anyone on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world's 500 richest people. In January he ranked 35th.

His advance up the wealth ranks has been driven largely by Tesla, whose market value is approaching $500 billion. About three-quarters of his net worth is comprised of Tesla shares, which are valued more than four times as much as his stake in Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX.

Musk's milestone marks only the second time in the index's eight-year history that Microsoft Corp. co-founder Gates has ranked lower than number two. He held the top spot for years before being bumped by Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos in 2017. Gates's net worth of $127.7 billion would be much higher had he not donated so prodigiously to charity over the years. He has given more than $27 billion to his namesake foundation since 2006.

With Monday's move, Musk unseats an occasional verbal sparring partner in Gates, who the Tesla billionaire has ridiculed on Twitter for, among other things, having “no clue” about electric trucks. The two have also traded barbs over Covid-19. Gates, whose charitable foundation is one of the preeminent bodies backing vaccine research, has expressed concern over Musk's stated suspicion of pandemic data and embrace of certain conspiracy theories.

The year has been a lucrative one for the world's richest people. Despite the pandemic and widespread layoffs that have disproportionately affected the world's working class and poor, the members of the Bloomberg index have collectively gained 23% -- or $1.3 trillion -- since the year began.

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News Network
November 21,2020

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Belagavi, Nov 21: Karnataka Minister for Health and Medical Education Dr K Sudhakar on Saturday said that in the coming days, the Primary Health Centres (PHC) in the State will work round the clock.

Speaking after launching various developmental works at Belagavi Institute of Medical Sciences (BIMS) premises here on Saturday, he said that all types of medical examinations will be made available free of cost to the patients including C.T. Scan and blood testing from January. More PHCs will be opened on the basis of population.

The Minister, who is also incharge of Corona pandemic, took to task BIMS head for poor maintenance of the hospital and warned him of transferring him if he fails to maintain cleanliness in the Hospital. Doctors should also learn administrative skills besides medical knowledge, the Minister advised.

He said that a 350-bed Super Speciality Hospital built at a cost of Rs 7 crore is nearing completion in Belagavi and it will be inaugurated very soon.

He said that henceforth steps will be taken to build oxygen storage units in all the Medical Science Institutions. In Belagavi district, 97 per cent recoveries were recorded and the death rate has come down to 0.8 per cent.

Earlier, speaking to reporters at Sambra Airport, the Minister clarified that the vaccine for Covid-19 has not yet been released in the Country. "Still the vaccine is under trial and once WHO approves it then it will be made available to all countries," he said.

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