Exclusive interview with SPB
After a long time, SPB played a full length and interesting role in the recently released Mayabazar. He played Kubera, the god of wealth. Mayabazar
got good talk all over and SPB is getting ultimate reviews from nook and cornor. We got a chance to meet him at Multiplex and he spent some exclusive
time with TotalTollywood. Here are the excerpts.
Congratulations for the reviews on your performance as Kubera.
Thank you very much. I am so happy doing this role after a gap. It struk the right chord with the audience.
You complete 4 decades this 15th December. How do you feel? (SPB sang his first song for Sobhan Babu for the film Sri Maryada Ramanna on 15th Dec, 1966)
It is a wonderful journey. I should thank the audience for their constant support which keeps me in my spirits all the time. It is because of their effection that I am still recording every day for 40 years. There is no SPB the moment they stop listening to my songs. I took an oath that the day audience stop listening to me, the day my voice would not heed to the need, the day I cannot deliver what a music director wanted, that day I will stop singing.
I should tell you one interesting incident here. The first thing that Kodandapani said to me was that I am disciplined and will be in an excellent slot
in the industry for at least
40 years. This he told me the first time he saw me during a music competetion. They havent decided the winner yet. I still remember that.
Going back to your early days, how much time did you take for your first song?
In fact, very less time. We did rehearsals for 3 days. I was already an assistant to Kodandapani by then. You wont believe but my portion was okayed in the first take. I completed my song in 20 minutes.
How much was your remuneration for that song and what did you do with that?
(Laughs).. 300 Rs. I sent one 100 to my home. You see, I was in my second year of engineering then. I was sharing a room with my friend. Rent was 10 Rs per head then. Every month I got 80Rs from home. So I sent 100 Rs to my dad and wrote him a letter that he doesnt have to send me money for the
next 2 months.
You have a gift. You modulate your voice to fit any actor. What I mean is your voice fits aptly to any actor. Do you do anything special to achieve that?
Changing or modulating voice will not suit every situation and actor. For example, comedians have a different caricature and hence a peculiar voice. I just mimic for them when I sing and it would work. It wont work for heroes. More efforts are needed for that. Especially it was very tough for ANR and NTR. When I started out, audiences are already used to the voice of Ghantasala for NTR and ANR. I was 22 then. So I had 2 options. Either to imitate Ghantasala or be myself. I decided to go the second way. I tried to modulate to be close to the respective dialog delivery. And more over if the song appeals natural sung by the hero then the credit goes equal to the actor also.
In recent days, the number of your songs have reduced. Is it your choice or is it the current trend of singers from other languages?
I did not call for reduction in number of songs. What I did was set myself a standard with song. Ofcourse you cannot do Shankarabharanams for all commercial films. But still I try to look for a standard. And also the new talent and upcoming singers should always be encouraged. And in that process, my songs will be less in number.
You have been doing lot of US shows lately. Is that your primary focus now?
Nothing like that. In the past, for about 30 years, I worked 15-16 hrs a day. I rarely did any shows then. Now that my numbers are less with songs, I am getting more time to do these shows. And it is kind of interesting that people like to see me presenting the songs live even though they have already heard them in movies. And I am not overdoing them either. I go on concert tour once in while. I tour US every alternate year. When I do, I stay there for 6 weeks.
Previously, critics said Mano was imitating you. Now looks like even SP Charan is on the same track.
Mano imitating me was a fact. He himself accepted that. sComing to Charan sounding like me can be a natural thing since he is my son. It is in his genes. He is not imitating me
but his voice sounds like me. And also I dont see it wrong if he imitates me. After all when others are doing it, why cant my son do it?
Coming to film Mayabazar, what are your impressions on the director?
Mohankrishna is a fine director. The way he worked on the script of Mayabazar proves his finesse. He has got grip on all aspects of film making. And
overall, I admire the knowledge he has on Telugu literature and his command in Telugu language. Usually when directors venture into commercial films, they look for either a good casting or present trend of films for quick recognition. But the script picked by Mohan is like tight rope walking. It was wonderful working with him.
I acted in 70-80 films so far. I can get the feel for the director on the first day. Some of the directors depends heavily on their assistants and some depend on senior artists like us. But Mohan knows what he wants. Every artist had the entire script in hand well in advance. He did not degrade the quality of the film even a bit to project the so called commercial aspects. K.Viswanath films are also commercial films but classics too. Mohankrishna is going in that direction.
In a previous pressmeet, you mentioned that you tried to avoid this film in the beginning.
Initially producer Satyanarayana garu approached me and narrated the story line in short form. He asked my opinion. I said the film is a good one and has novelty. He asked me for a favor and I slipped my tongue saying I am okay to do even a short role in the film. I did not know what was on his mind then until he reacted immediatley that they are considering me for the role of Kuberudu. I was a bit hesistant. So, I said no. After a week he called me again to see if I changed my mind. I wanted to avoid this and hence told him a few loop holes in the character. He came back with the corrections and notified me that he will do this film only if I agreed to play the role of Kuberudu. The makers were very particular that I do this role. So I thought of giving it a shot. Now I thank the producers for giving me this role since it gave me a new projection.
What did you think about music in this film?
Radhakrishna is a wonderful music director. He is one music director who still believes in melody and sticks to semi-classical based pattern. I requested him never to change his style. He might not get too many offers because of this but it is his songs that will stay for long and evergreen.
If you have to pick top 5 of your songs, what will they be?
Medante Meda Kadoo (this is my first turning point), Ye divilo virisina, all songs in Shankarabharanam, all songs in Sagarasangamam, Adaviramudu.. and the list goes on. I cannot just pick 5.
What are the recent films that you liked the best?
I liked Godavari and now Mayabazar.
Show at IMAX was over by then and it was time for his interaction with the audience. So we had to break but SPB promised more exclusive time soon. We
thank him for his time and applaud him for his role of Kuberudu in Mayabazar.