Bay Area Telugu Association and ChimataMusic.com together proudly presented a lovely birthday gift to their beloved SP Balu with a never-seen-before-in-America musical concert with 66 melodious songs in Jain Temple Auditorium, Milpitas, CA. SirishaHomes was a proud platinum sponsor and Ravi Taxes, Madras Café, Shree Travels, Dental Solutions, SK Dentals, Safari Kid, and U Smile Dental were the golden sponsors of the event. Virijallu (local Radio Station) and IdleBrain.com were the media partners.
Srinivas Chimata of ChimataMusic.com promised the audience during his last Veturi concert (held on the Feb 11th on behalf of Veturi's birthday) that the next concert (SP Balu's birthday concert) would feature twice the number of Veturi concert songs (increased from 33 to 66) on behalf of SP Balu's 66th birthday. Srinivas paired up with six different partners all over the US to grandly celebrate SP Balu's birthday and this Bay Area concert is the first one in the series and it would be followed by the concerts in Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Minneapolis and Austin in the entire month of June (for more details on other events, please visit ChimataaMusic.com).
Featuring 66 songs is not an easy task from an organizing point of view and hence the organizers did split the whole 8 hour long event in to three segments. All these melodious 66 songs were chosen from a lot of SP Balu songs (either sung by him or composed by him) covering a gamut of the late 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's. Srini explained to the audience that he did deliberately avoid repeating many of the SP Balu melodies (that were already performed in the previous seven concerts) in this concert, with a few exceptions.
Warm-up Segment (Kids/Youngsters/Teens):
Prasad Mangina, a BATA officer and a staunch supporter of all past ChimataMusic concerts hosted this segment. A total of six songs were presented. Neelesh Bokkisam started with మాటేరాని చిన్నదాని (mATErAni chinnadAni) from O Papa Lali. This was followed by జాము రాతిరి (jAmu rAtiri) from Kshana Kshanam by Ramya Nambala; కథగా కల్పనగా (kathagA kalpanagA) from Vasantha Kokila by Veda; and వేవేల గోపెమ్మల (vEvEla gOpemmal) from Sagara Sangamam by Yuthika. After Nitya Gullapalli gave an excellent rendering of లలిత కళారాధనలో (lalita kaLArAdhanalO) from Kalyani, Krishna Vadrevu concluded the segment with మామా చందమామా (mAmA chandamAmA) from Sambarala Rambabu.
Local Singers Segment:
The local singers segment immediately followed the kids/youngsters/teens segment. This segment featured several talented singers from the local community including some who also participated in the main segment later. Prasad Mangina anchored this segment as well.
Krishna Rayasam, the classically trained singer who would also start the main segment later, opened the segment with Pratyusha and together they sang ప్రణతి ప్రణతి (praNati praNati) from Swathikiranam. This was followed by కోనసీమలో కొంగులేసిన (kOnasImalO koMgulEsina) from Seethamma Pelli by Saritha, who was singing for the first time in a ChimataMusic concert.
Krishna was joined by Prasanthi, who had participated in ChimataMusic concerts earlier for melody నిను చూడక నేనుండలేను (ninu chUDaka nEnuMDalEnu) from Neerajanam which was composed by O. P. Nayyar. This was followed by a joyful melody by Ramakrishna Vengalasetti, మేఘాల మీద సాగాలి (mEghAla mIda sAgAli) from the movie Devadasu.
Prasanthi came back one more time to pair up with Murthy Ganti for a duet తెల్ల మబ్బు తేరు మీద (tella mabbu tEru mIda) from Chinnodu Peddodu. Srinivas Tagirasa followed it up with a soulful melody నీలాలు కారేనా (nIlAlu kArEnA) from the movie Muddamandaram.
Krishna took the stage again. This time he was joined by Sailaja Bhagavathula, who also participated in ChimataMusic concerts earlier. They sang నాదవినోదము నాట్యవిలాసము (nAdavinOdamu nATyavilAsamu) from Sagara Sangamam.
Baby Amritha Turlapati, who mesmerized audience at the last concert on Veturi songs with a perfect rendering of మాటే మంత్రము (mATE mantramu), enthralled the audience again with the song ఈ తూరుపు, ఆ పశ్చిమం (I tUrupu, A pashchimam) from Padamati Sandhyaragam. This time, she was joined by her younger sister Ankitha (to sing the SP Balu's portion) who promises to be another prodigy in making.
Pratyusha and Prasad Mangina himself paired up for the title song from the Hindi movie Hum Aap Ke Hein Kaun. It is worth noting that Balu has had significant success and career in Bollywood films as well and this song is chosen to acknowledge that fact.
It is time for a series of solos now. After Murthy sang ఓ పాపా లాలి (O pApA lAli ) from Geetanjali to perfection, Krishna presented his strong voice once again with ఈ గాలి ఈ నేల (I gAli I nEla) from Sirivennela. Newcomer Sreeni Eleswarapu sang పల్లవించవ నా గొంతులో (pallaviMchava nA goMtulO) from Kokilamma while Murali Chary, who is well known in the local community made his maiden appearance with the song తరలిరాదా తనే వసంతం (taralirAdA tAnE vasantam) from Rudraveena.
Murthy and Sailaja sang చెలీ సఖీ మనోహరీ (chelI sakhI manOhar) from Bangaru Chilaka. Narayanan warmed up for the main segment with ఎదుట నీవే ఎదలోన నీవే (eduTa neevE edlOna nIvE) from Abhinandana. Subrahmanyam Darbha and Manasa, who would pair up again in the main segment, concluded this segment with a classical పిబరే రామరసం (pibarE rAmarasam) from Padamati Sandhyaragam.
Vijaya Aasuri (Cultural Chair of BATA) took over the anchoring responsibilities from Prasad Mangina for the main segment of the program. She took the stage and commented that it is a great pleasure for all of us to assemble here to honor the birthday of the legendary singer Dr. S. P. Balasubrahmanyam. She recalled her long association with Srini Chimata of ChimataMusic.com. She invited Srini, the man behind the show, to the stage.
Srini said SP Balu's birthday is like another annual festival for him along with Dasara, Deepavali etc. For the jyOthi prajwalanam (lighting of lamp) this time, he invited the guest of honor, Venu Aasuri, to the stage along with anchor Vijaya and singer Sarada (President of Houston Telugu Association). Venu said the Telugu film has two eyes: Sri Late Ghantasala and Sri SP Balu, and felt that we may not see another legend in our life again.
The main segment of the show started with a devotional song, the all time classic ॐకార నాదాను (OMkAra nAdAnu) from the movie Sankarabharanm. Krishna Rayasam has once again proved his mastery of classical songs with his a perfect rendering of this complex song. Sailaja, another upcoming classical trained singer provided him able support in this song.
One of the special attractions of this concert is the singer Ramu, who was specially invited from India to the US by Srinivas Chimata to participate as a lead singer in the SP Balu BDay Celebrations series of Concerts in the entire month of June. Srinivas immensely loves Ramu's voice, for the latter's voice is the closest (in terms of feel and quality) to SP Balu's in the present generation of Telugu singers.
Ramana Idury and Sarada Akunuri worked together on a novel concept this time to present Balu songs based on "Nava Rasaalu". Srinivas acknowledged on the stage that he was inspired by Sarada Akunuri's nava rasaalu concept that she had earlier hosted in one of her Houston Radio shows and also on her Facebook. Ramana did an extensive research on navarasams and poetically came up with wonderful write-ups (with Sanscrit Slokams found on the Internet from Sri Rama Karnamritham that captures all nine rasas in Lord Rama and the respective plain meanings) on each rasam and screened each slide while a respective song was performed on the stage. Srinivas and Sarada helped him in finalizing the navarasaala songs.
Ramu made his mark in the show with his first song, interestingly, ఇది తొలిపాట.. ఒక చెలిపాట (idi tolipATa oka chelipATa) from the movie Kanya Kumari which also happens to be Balu’s debut movie as a music director! He followed it up with a soothing melody, సిరిమల్లె నీవే విరిజల్లు కావే (sirimalle nIvE virijallu kAvE) from Pantulamma which is also the song based on the SAanta rasam (peace, tranquil). The audience got a taste of how closely Ramu’s voice resembles that of the great Balu’s but they probably had no idea how Ramu would take them to even greater heights as the show progressed!
Sarada, a resident of Houston and a multi-faceted personality, has already become dear to many music lovers in the Bay area from the past concerts (Ilaya Raja and Veturi) and this is the fifth ChimataMusic concert for her in a row (two other events being the Hyderabad Book Release Function and the Dallas Trinity Concert). She joined Ramu for the next song which is her first in the show, కలకాలం ఇదే పాడనీ (kalakAlam idE pADanee) from Captain Krishna.
The audience were thrilled to see a very familiar local favorite next. Narayanan, the dependable and versatile singer came to the stage for his first song of the segment. He was also joined by Manasa, a new talent recently discovered. Together they sang ప్రియరాగాలే (priyarAgAlE) from Hello Brother.
The audience gave applause to another favorite local pair, Subrahmanyam Darbha who has recently appeared in the concert on Veturi songs and quickly established himself as another capable singer; and melodious Sudha Sastry, the only singer to represent all ChimataMusic concerts in the Bay area. They both sang కురిసేను విరిజల్లులే (kurisEnu virijallulE) from Gharshana, a classical melody, to perfection.
The next song is ..., oh well, it is not a song but a series of all time classic padyAlu (poems) from the movie Ekaveera. Written by the legendary lyricist CiNaRe, ఏ పారిజాతమ్ములీయగలనో (E pArijAtammul lIyagalanO) requires a great deal of emotion and dedication to sing. Murthy Ganti, another young upcoming singer, has put in a great deal of effort to render this very well and received applause. Srini, who is very passionate about this song, took a special interest in compiling two padhyams (in particular, kaluva pUla padhyam is rarely found on the internet) in to a single track.
Ramu came back to sing one of all-time classics, శివరంజనీ నవరాగిణీ (shivaranjanI navarAgiNI) from Thoorpu Padamara, a musically challenging piece, to perfection. Darbha and Sarada followed it up with a melody ఇలాగే ఇలాగే సరాగమాడితే (ilAgE ilAgE sarAgamADitE) from vayasu pilichindi.
Throughout his career Balu sang not only for all heroes of multiple generations but for several comedians as well and defined a whole genre of comedy songs. As a testament to this, Narayanan came back to stage to sing the song పాట ఆగిందా.. ఒక సీటు గోవిందా (pATa AgiMdA oka sITu gOviMdA) from Collector Janaki. This song incidentally was chosen to represent the hAsya rasam (humor, comedy). Narayan, putting on a comical voice, brought smiles on everyone’s face. Srini complimented Narayanan for being a fast learner of the songs (this one is an example) that he has not heard before.
Sudha brought a bit of classical touch with her solo ఈ పాదం ఇలలోన (ee pAdam ilalOna ) from Mayuri. All female solo songs in the concert, by necessity, have been composed to Balu as a music director.
It is time to present the theme song ఏ దివిలో విరిసిన పారిజాతమో (E divilO virisina pArijAtamO) from Kannevayasu. Balu himself is a wonder that is not likely to happen again in our lifetime. Ramu has brought that wonder to us tonight and left everyone wondering whether they were listening to Ramu or Balu himself! No wonder, this song was based on the adbhuta rasam (wonder)!!! Srinivas Chimata mentioned that Ramu had sung this song for the third time for him (first one being in the Hyderabad Music Directors Book Release Function and the second one being the Dallas Trinity Concert in 2009) and that this is the best performance hitherto from Ramu. Srinivas also shared with audience that he deliberately chose a 5.5 minute long full original track for this song, instead of the shorter versions of the song that we usually find in the market. Srinivas took an opportunity at this point to thank Jangannatha Rao gaaru (India) for providing him all quality tracks for this concert.
Following three delightful solo performances Sarada brought one of her own. She sang the soulful solo అలా మండిపడకే జాబిలీ (alA manDipaDakE jAbilI) from the movie Jocky very well with emotion. Some of the audience complimented Sarada that it was one of her best performances so far.
After so much entertainment and smiles, how about some scare? After all this concert is about all nine rasams and bhayAnakam is one of them. Sudha and Narayanan took the stage and sang నందికొండ వాగుల్లోన (nandikoMDa vAgullOna ) from Geetanjali. Narayanan especially did well on imitating Balu’s creepy voice in the original.
Ramu came back to stage to join Sudha for a duet from 70s, నీలిమేఘమా జాలి చూపుమా (nIlimEghamA jAli chUpumA) from Ammayila Sapatham. One cannot miss the sweetness of Sudha’s voice in this song. Ramu followed the joyful melody with a sorrowful song కల చెదిరింది కథ మారింది (kala chediriMdi katha mAriMdi) from Krishna’s Devadasu, reminding us all that life is full of joys and sorrows. His rendering was so moving that an elderly woman (in her sixties) in the audience kept weeping, as this song reminded her late husband, who used to sing this song for her.
The next song introduced a pair of senior and well respected singers in the area: Prasad Durvasula and Yamini Potti. Together they sang another melody ఈ మధుమాసంలో (ee madhumAsamlO) from Kondaveeti Simham, an NTR starrer. This was followed by a peppy duet గువ్వా గోరింకతో (guvvA gOriMkatO) from Khaidi 786. Sarada and Ramu sang with perfect tempo and audience matched them with rhythmic claps.
Prasad Mangina, who is also a capable singer, made his stage appearance for the main segment. He was joined by another new talent Saritha for a Keeravani duet పూసింది పూసింది పున్నాగ (pUsiMdi pUsiMdi punnAg) from Seetharamayyagari Manavaralu.
It is time for a couple of solos again. Riding on his popularity from a rasam based song earlier, Narayanan came back for వేయి పడగలమీద కోటి అడుగుల నేల (vEyi paDagalamIda kOTi aDugula nEla) from Mundadugu, which is based on roudra rasam (anger). Darbha followed it up with an excellent rendering of చుట్టూ చెంగావి చీర (chuTTU cheMgAvi chIra) from Thoorpu Velle Railu. He mentioned to the audience that this song was inspired by a Ghazal. Ramu came back with another musically challenging song from Chelleli Kapuram, చరణ కింకిణులు ఘల్లుఘల్లుమన (charaNa kiMkiNulu ghallughallumana) and demonstrated his mettle once again.
Before the interlude, Narayanan and Sarada came back for a rhythmic melody చమకు చమకు ఛాం (chamaku chamaku chhAM) from Kondaveeti Donga, and received wide applause. Sarada spoke a few thankful words about Jagannatha Rao gaaru for providing such quality Karaoke tracks and for indirectly contributing to the event's success.
Now it was time to felicitate the sponsors and media partners. Ramesh Konda (BATA President) and Srinivas Chimata cordially thanked all sponsors for making the event possible. Sirisha Sinha of Sirisha Homes, Aruna of Shree Travels and Kalyan Kattamuri of Virijallu were honored on the stage by Ramesh and Srinivas.
Continuing the main segment, Ramu started the second half with a patriotic and inspirational song జననీ జన్మభూమిశ్చ (jananI janmabhUmishcha) from Bobbili Puli, which is based on the veera rasam (heroism). He immediately followed it up with నీ నవ్వు చెప్పింది నాకు (nI navvu cheppiMdi nAku) from the movie Antham.
Pratyusha, a talented, upcoming and enthusiastic singer, who made her mark at the last concert on Veturi songs, presented the next song, ఈ తూరుపు ఆ పశ్చిమం (I tUrupu A pashchimam) from Padamati Sandhyaragam. Narayanan supported her with his imitation of American accent.
The next song మల్లెలు పూసె వెన్నెల కాసె (mallelu pUse vennela kAse) from Intinti Ramayanam is a very romantic song, based on SRngAra rasam. Singing it perfectly with all nuances and subtleties, Ramu evoked the romantic feelings in everyone and received big ovation in the end. Srinivas Chimata came on to the stage and hugged Ramu affectionately and requested the audience to give Ramu a standing ovation.
Yamini joined him for the next song, yet another timeless melody, తనివి తీరలేదే నా మనసు నిండలేదే (tanivi tIralEdE nA manasu niMDalEdE) from Gooduputhani. They both sang so beautifully and melodiously that the audience gave them wide applause and someone complimented that even after hearing it their “tanivi tIralEdE” (translation: their urge was not satiated yet)!
The next song మాటేరాని చిన్నదాని (mATErAni chinnadAni) is from a dubbed movie O Papa Lali. The charanams of the song are very complex with lot of compound words and phrases and singing it on stage is a big challenge for anyone. Not for Ramu though! He sang it so beautifully and, like Balu, he also displayed his mastery of Tamil language by singing the second charanam in Tamil.
Durvasula came back to stage for his solo, a sorrowful song, మల్లెతీగ వాడిపోగా (malletIga vADipOgA ) from Pooja. He joked before the song that while the previous song by Ramu required him (Ramu) to sing without taking breath, this song would require him (Durvasula) to sing with lots of breathing!
How many people remember that Balu made a name for himself in Hindi field as well? Just kidding, but the next song is going to be in Hindi. This time Narayanan and Sarada came back strong with a peppy number O Maria from the movie Sagar. One cannot help being impressed by Sarada’s impeccable diction of Hindi and it is hard to believe that she hardly speaks Hindi in her regular life!
Ramu and Yamini joined next for one of all-time popular songs, మ్రోగింది కళ్యాణవీణ (mrOgiMdi kaLyANavINa) from Kurukshethram. Yamini did an excellent job in song which requires lot of continuous singing and AlApana (humming) by the female singer.
Sarada and Ramu sang one of the haunting and forgotten melodies from yesteryears, రాశాను ప్రేమలేఖలెన్నో (rASAnu prEmalEkhalennO) from Sridevi, which brought back many sweet memories for the older audience. Darbha and Manasa followed it up with another soothing melody వేవేల గోపెమ్మల (vEvEla gOpemmala) from Sagara Sangamam.
It is easy to get lost in a long concert especially a very long one like this. but not when you have a singer of Ramu's caliber! He came back strong for two solo melodies: నవ్వులు రువ్వే పువ్వమ్మా (navvulu ruvvE puvvammA) from Gajula Kishtayya and మెరిసే మేఘమాలికా (merisE mEghamAlikA) from Deeksha, and made people wonder how they had forgotten all those beautiful songs from that era.
Sudha, perhaps the only singer in the concert that can speak and sing flawlessly in Telugu, Hindi, and Tamil, came back one last time with Murthy for a Hindi number Ye Hassi Waadiya from the movie Roja.
One thing that strikes anyone in Ramu is his humbleness and genuineness, especially for someone as accomplished as he is. He decided to show his appreciation for Srini Chimata for bringing him to the US again (the first time being the Dallas Trinity Concert held on June 4, 2011 on behalf of SP Balu's birthday) and dedicated the next song to him. He aptly chose స్నేహమే నా జీవితం (snEhamE nA jIvitam) from Nippulanti Manishii. The audience reciprocated his appreciation by clapping throughout the song. Srini emotionally felt that he was very fortunate to find a singer like Ramu, who could make his dream (of presenting SP Balu songs impeccably) possible.
Not to be outdone by Ramu’s dedication, Srini came back with a dedication of his own. The next song, a melody, కనరాని నీవే కనిపించినావే (anarAni nIvE kanipiMchinAvE) from Melukolupu was sung perfectly by Yamini and Ramu. Srini dedicated this song to guest of honor, Venu Aasuri. Coincidentally this song was composed by his namesake Master Venu!
Time to pump some adrenaline! Sarada and Ramu gave another strong performance with a peppy song, మనసే జతగా పాడిందిలే (manasE jatagA pADiMdilE) from Nomu.
We haven’t tasted the nine rasams for a while and it is time again. This time the rasam is beebhatsam (disgust, aversion). Ramu sang రెండక్షరాల ప్రేమ (reMDakSharAla prEma) from the movie Gajadonga with so much power and emotion that one could feel the negative energy!
To round up the nine rasams, Darbha came back for his last song of the concert. He sang ప్రియతమా నా హృదయమా (priyatamA nA hR^idayamA) from Prema, a song based on karuNa rasam (empathy), with so much feel that one could feel the emotion.
It is almost time for the end of the grand show. Perhaps in a fitting way, Ramu chose the Annamacharya classic అంతర్యామి అలసితి సొలసితి (antaryAmi alasiti solasiti) from the move Annamaya. His heart-rendering performance was so powerful that audience gave a grand standing ovation and shouted “Once More” so much that he repeated it immediately!
To leave audience in an energetic way, Narayanan came back for the grand finale song కుర్రాళ్లోయ్ కుర్రాళ్లు (kurrALlOy kurrALlu) from Andamaina Anubhavam. To mix things up a bit, Ramu also joined him midway and together they both finished the song amidst standing ovation and applause, and certainly lots of gratitude for such a wonderful night of memories!
Srini invited Kiran Prabha of koumudi.net and his wife Smt. Kanthi to the stage to feliciate the lead singers Ramu and Sarada. He said the couple, known for running a web magazine of high literary standards, have always helped him in the concerts. Kiran Prabha presented the memento to Ramu while Kanthi presented the memento to Sarada. Kiran Prabha reminisced as to how passionate Srinivas' musical efforts are (be it a concert or a publishing a great Music Directors' biographical book) and then praised Ramu for bringing back the memories of the last forty years and his perfect rendition of Balu’s songs and voice.
Srini said it was time to honor all organizers (Veeru Vuppala, Prasad Mangina, Ramana Idury, Suresh Mantrala and Masthan Rao Chimata), ChimataMusic and BATA volunteers and all Singers. He requested all BATA past presidents (Ravi Thiruveedhula, Prasad Mangina, Srilu Veligeti and Srini Kolli) along with the current President Ramesh Konda and Sridevi Pasupuleti to give the mementos to the recepients. Srini expressed special thanks to Prasada Magina, Ramana Idury, Suresh Mantrala, Sarada Akunuri and Masthan Rao for Organizing Work; Vijaya Aasuri for Achoring; Veeru Vuppala and Sumanth Pusuluri for Audio Support; Srikar Boddu for Photogrphy; Harish for Video; Ravi Gubbala, Alwal Reddy and Anitha for Registration; Suresh Mantrala, Subbu Vadali and Ramana Idury for Screen/Projector; Vishu Bokkisam, Srinivas Ramisetty, Sumanth, Masthan Rao, Alwal Reddy and Anvith for Stage/Hall setup and Srilu Veligeti for Jyothi setup.
To sweeten the memories further, a grand cake was cut, celebrating the birthday of the great living legend, the one and only Padmabhushan Dr. S P Balasubrahmanyam. Srini thanked Anvith (the only son of Surya Guduru, the technical man behind the ChimataMusic.com) for bringing in the cake on to the stage and thanked Veeru for cutting the cake amidst all BATA and ChimataMusic volunteers. Srini had felt that Veeru (who always spearheads all Audio arrangements for all BATA, SP Balu and ChimataMusic Concerts and also TANA's Joint Treasurer) is the closest person to SP Balu in the Bay Area and hence it would be appropriate to get the cake cut by him. Veeru in turn invited Srini to join him in cutting the cake. In the end, Srini thanked every one for making this event a grand success.
Thank you Balu gaaru, your illustrious career has made this night possible for all your fans here!
Thank you Ramu for taking us very close to SPB Garu, you are the best thing after the real thing!!
Thank you all singers (Sarada, Sudha, Yamini, Narayanan, Darbha and all others) for bringing out your best singing talent!!!
And finally... Thank you Srinivas for presenting such a wonderful concert!!!!