As all of you know that SP Balu has completed 50 years on Dec 15, 2016 in the film industry since his first debut song "ahO.. Emi ee vinta mOham" from Sri Sri Sri maryAda rAmanna movie back in 1966. On this occasion, SP Charan (the proud son of the great legend Balu gaaru) has designed this wonderful "SPB 50 Musical World Tour" and they have been touring all over the world since the last six months and they reached USA a couple of weeks ago. Our local Telugu association BATA held an enthralling 3-1/2 hour long Telugu musical concert (with 25 songs amidst lively jokes of Balu and Charan) on Saturday, March 8th in San Jose, Silicon Valley.
First of all, I must compliment SP Charan for his terrific sense of humor.. tanDriki tagga tanayuDu anipinchukunnAru!! He was a bit reserved and laconic in his last Bay Area concert.. but this time, he opened up and entertained the audience with his timely jokes and wits.
This concert was very different from earlier Balu concerts... the Organizers have taken much care in stage presentation and through out the show Balu's nostalgic pictures were displayed on the backdrop screen. The concert started off with the introduction of all 10 musicians, while they were playing their respective instruments. While we had six veterans (Chinna and Praveen on Key Board; Ravi Sankar on Flute; Swamy on Rhythm pads; Caleb on Bass Guitar; Venu on Tabla), we have four new musicians - Arun on Drums; Suresh on Tabla; Naveen (from Chennai) on the third Key Board; Mangal Raj on Lead Guitar). This time, my favourite oldies (Phani gaaru on Congos; Krisha Murthy gaaru on Rhythm Pads & Dafli and Jaipal Raj on Dholak/Tabla) were missing. But the new musicians did their parts well and on the whole, the orchestra led by Chinna did a spectacular job one more time.
Singers: SP Balu, Chitra, Sailaja, and Charan along with the upcoming young blood such as Sai Charan, SP Abhishek (first cousin of SP Charan), Swagatha and Latha.
Having explained the concept of the "SPB 50", SP Charan introduced the four chorus singers and started off the series of songs with his first one.
- AkASam nee haddurA (SP Charan) from sommokaDidi-sOkokaDidi
- O bangaru rangula chilakaaby SP Charan and Swagatha/Latha (I am not sure who sang the female version out of these two) from tOTa rAmuDu
The Organizers played an audio string of around a dozen of Balu songs' pallavis from different languages. Then SP Balu gaaru got introduced to the audience by the host of the event, Vijaya Aasuri gaaru amidst reverbarating applause with a standing ovation from the audience.. Balu thanked the audience for showering affection on him for the last 50 years. Then Balu mentioned about the IR's legal notice, but we could see his anguish in his voice. But he immediately retained his composure quoting that he would be glad to sing a lot other songs than IR's. Balu emphasized on starting the show on-time and this show like all his previous shows sharply started at the announced time of 6: 30 PM.
He then reminisced his first recorded song on Dec 15, 1966 and thanked his guru SP Kodandapani and the producer, the comedian Padmanabham and sang the pallavi of that song (the portion that he shared with Suseela, PB Srinivas and Eelapata Raghuramaiah) along with pallavis of other songs such as O chinnadAnA.. nannu viDichi pOtAvaTE (nEnanTE nEnE), E divilO virisina pArijAtamO, charaNa kinkiNulu ghallu ghallumana (chelleli kApuram) and he explained how he got recognition with two mile stones in his singing career (Sathyam gaari E divilO virisina song and mAma's SankarAbharaNam songs). Then he introduced Sailaja to join him in the next song.
- OmkAra nAdAnu sandhAmou gAnamE (Balu and Sailja) from SankarAbharaNam
Now the event host Vijaya gaaru cheered up the audience to sing the song "idE pATa.. pratee chOTa" pallavi as a token of respect to Balu gaaru and we all enthusiastically joined our voices.
Balu then said he would move on to his brother, vinAyakuDu after singing the first song on his father (SivuDu.. Balu gaari father's name is Samba Murthy gaaru and he himself is Kumara Swamy/Subrahmanya and hence he must have called Vinayaka as his elder brother.. what a terrific wit by Balu gaaru!!).
- Jai Jai ganESaa (Balu) from Jai Chiranjeeva
Balu complimented the lyricist Chandra Bose and music director Mani Sarma for such a wonderful song.
- mAmA.. chandamAmA (SP Abhishek) from sambarAla rAmbAbu
SP Charan introduced Abhishek as his first cousin (bAbAyi gAri abbAyi) and joked that he was ahead of him and Balu gaaru in the name (SPA, SPB and SPC). Then he introduced Chitra gaaru and thanked her for joining the tour and that she was the first female singer he could think of while designing the "SPB 50 World Tour".
- indira mandira sundarakArA (SP Charan and Chitra) from gOvindO.. gOvindA!
Then the Organizers played a video clip from the Super Star Krishna wishing Balu all the best. Krishna mentioned that Balu was his natural choice and sang 99% of his songs and Balu's voice exactly suited him. Balu also profusely thanked Krishna for his generosity and for his encouragement during his initial days. Balu then shared with the audience a sweet news that he would soon receive the Best Actor Nandi award for the movie mithunam from the govt. and he complimented the story writer Sree Ramana and the Director Tanikella Bharani (for turning a mere 14 page story in to a wonderful movie) and the producer Ananda Rao. After this movie, wherever he went, he was being offered all kUralu, pacchaLLu (that his role, Appadaasu craved for in the movie) by hosts as they were assuming that he was a food lover like in the movie (but the truth is that he eats very less in real life).
- AvakAya mana andaridi (Balu and Sailaja) from mithunam
- virinchinai virachinchitini (Balu and Sailaja) from sirivennela
The audience gave a thundering applause to this song. Balu then said the next song would be quite contrast from this song and that singing the film songs is not as easy as some people think.
- ee pETaku nEnE mEstiri (Balu and Chorus) from muThA mEstri
Balu reminisced how hard it was for them to convince Chitra to sing the last one line in the song during the recording of that song!! Balu wondered how he would do a concert without singing this song!! The auditorium reverberated with claps from the audience though out the song!!
Charan mentioned that he would just love to sing the next song, which is his favorite song.
- lipi lEni kanTi bAsa (Charan, Sailaja) from SreevAriki prEmalEkha
Balu told audience that Charan just loves this song for some unknown reasons. Balu said that there is always a boon behind a bane (prati SApam venaka oka varam vunTundi). Otherwise how he could present all these wonderful gems by great music directors like Ramesh Naidu in his shows! He indirectly mentioned that IR's legal notice forced him to dig for these kinds of melodies and he wondered how he ignored all these gems in his stage shows until now!!
- priya rAgAlE (Sai Charan and Chitra) from Hello Brother
Sai Charan did a wonderful job and he had touched Chitra gaari feet before he started the song. He felt excited for the opportunity to sing with Chitra gaaru.
- swapna vENuvEdO (Balu and Chitra) from rAvOyi chandamAma
This song never registered in my mind completely, though I kept listening to it in Balu's pADutA teeyagaa episodes from the contestants.
- anjali.. anjalee.. pushpAnjalee (Balu and Chitra) from Duet
Both Balu and Chitra got thundering applause for their impeccable rendering.. Balu thanked Rehman for composing such a song!!
- jhummandi nAdam (Charan and Sailaja) from sirisiri muvva
Balu told audience how great the music director Saleel Chowdhury and raved about some of his Hindi songs. He next quizzed the audience to guess which movie the next song would be in (he asked.. except Chimata Srinivas, can any of you answer this question? :))
- nayanAlu kalisE tolisAri (Balu and Chitra) from Chairman Chalamayya
My friend Suresh Mantrala shouted the answer and Balu again asked which year this movie was released in. I replied from the audience that it was 1974. Balu then asked Chitra gaaru how old she was when that song was recorded. :)
- adharam adOlA adirinadElaa from Goutamee Putra Saatakarni
Balu said even today (at the age of 70+) he records at least a song a day and one such example is the above song.
Balu then imitated ANR's voice and invited the Tamil speaking singer Latha (or Swagatha???) to join him in the next song. Balu assured the audience that he would sing an NTR song as well (mimicking the NTR's voice) after ANR's.
- Ravi varma kE andanee.. okE oka andAnivO (Balu and Latha/Swagatha) from rAvaNuDE rAmuDaitE?
- nEnu saitam prapanchAniki (Balu) from Tagore
Balu complimented the lyricist Suddla Ashok Teja gaaru for writing such a great song (though the pallavi was taken from SriSri's kavita, but he wrote all charaNams on his own) and that this song fetched him the National award.
Then Balu introduced all 10 musicians one by one.. he said they work so hard to make him a hero and the audience gave a big round of applause for them.
- alA manDi paDakE jAbilee (Sailaja) from Jockey
- uppongelE gOdAvari (SP Abhishek)
Then the host Vijaya gaaru requested all Sponsors to get to the stage. Being one of the Sponsors, it was a thrill of my life to receive the memento from Balu gaari hands.
- abhinava tAravO (Balu) from Sivaranjani
- nilavadE.. madi nilavadE (Balu) from which movie??? (out of syllabus for me!!)
Balu complimented Mickey J Mayer for composing such a melody.
Then Balu spoke of Suresh Madhavapeddi gaari talent and of his caliber of doing very melodious songs and how he used to accompany Balu during his initial US Concerts. Probably Suresh gaaru and himself did only melodies, and that's why they might probably have been neglected by the industry.. On a personal note, I would never agree that Balu gaaru was not a popular music director. Within his available time, he did wonderful songs!!
- idi sarigamalerugani rAgam (Balu and Sailaja) from Hai Hai nAyakA (music by Suresh Madhavapeddi)
Balu said that all good things had to come to an end, but he would keep coming again and again!!
- Now it is time for the grand finale song like in all his previous concerts.. Keeravani's number #1 song.
puNya bhUmi nA dESam namO namAmi (SP Balu and Chorus) from Major Chandrakanth.
All in all, this is the first US Balu concert, which has a major chunk of the 70's/80's non-IR songs and I can not be happier than this!!
I wish a GRAND SUCCESS to SP Charan's team in the rest of the remaining concerts in the SPB 50 series in the coming weeks!!
- BATA for bringing us every time these Balu concerts, which become fond memories in my life!!
- Prasad Mangina, one of the BATA core pillars (along with Vijaya gaaru and Veeru gaaru)
- Suresh Mantrala, my best friend who always accompanies me and helps me with these reviews and other related misc. things.
Written by Chimata music Srinivas