Kamal Haasan on SP Balasubrahmanyam: He would often pull my cheeks

Updated: 26 September, 2020 07:25 IST | Uma Ramasubramanian | Mumbai

Celebrating the life of SP Balasubrahmanyam, Kamal Haasan on his friendship with the late singer.

Kamal Haasan with SP Balasubrahmanyam
Kamal Haasan with SP Balasubrahmanyam

He was like family," says Kamal Haasan, yet to come to terms with the death of brother-friend SP Balasubrahmanyam, who breathed his last on the afternoon of September 25, in a Chennai hospital where he was being treated for COVID-19 since August. Commemorating their friendship that lasted over 50 years, the actor who addressed him as brother says, "[Coming to terms with his death] is not going to happen in a day."

SPB, as people lovingly called him, and Haasan shared a mutual admiration. "Even when I was just a beginner, he was proud of me. He has been a part of my romance, happiness, melancholy, first love and marriage as well," reminisces the actor, adding, "He was an unabashed fan of Kamal Hassan, and was vocal about it, [which] embarrassed me. He would often pinch my cheeks, compliment me for my work and ask me to get back to work. I never spoke about his singing, the world did. I would just be there, brimming with tears, proud of my brother."


Balasubrahmanyam had recorded over 40,000 songs in 16 languages over a period of five decades. Haasan believes that had it not been for the virus he would "still be singing and recording every day. He died with his boots on". The singer broke barriers and created a name for himself in every industry. "He is not just a Tamil or Telugu singer. He is a national voice," says Haasan, adding that the singer never carried his fame and encouraged new talent. "When he completed 30,000 songs, I wanted to speak about it, but he refused. He took criticism and applause in the same way. He always wanted to improve, he supported new talent and worked with them generously. His humility was not a mask."

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First Published: 26 September, 2020 07:19 IST

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