July 6th marks the 89th birth anniversary of legendary carnatic vocalist and playback singer Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna. The resounding quality of his voice, which traversed three and a half octaves with effortless ease, continues to make people and music lovers remain awestruck till date.
The mainstay of Balamuralikrishna happened to be classical music, but he also contributed munificently to the film music genre. Balamuralikrishna, shortly addressed as MBK or just Balamurali, was a child prodigy who mastered the deeper aspects of classical music at the age of 7 years.
The first vocal concert he gave was when he was 8 years old, in Vijayawada. Balamuralikrishna’s journey started then and continued till he left for the heavens in November 2016.
The Giant and His Stint In Films
Balamuralikrishna started his film career as a playback singer and also as a performer in major character roles in Telugu and Tamil movies. His disciple and actress-singer S. Varalakshmi made a request to her guru to sing for her home production, Sati Savitri (1957.)
The first song he sang was a duet with her for hero A. Nageswara Rao.
Then came the imposing Oru Naal Podhuma in the 1965 Tamil mythological movie Thiruvilayadal (1965,) in which he sang a ragamalika (a song in multiple ragas) so inimitably, he obliged the audience with this song during his classical performances at his regular concerts.
The Cult Bhakta Prahlada: The Eternal Sage Narada
Balamuralikrishna’s most memorable role in his short movie career was as the celestial singer and foremost devotee of Lord Vishnu, Narada. The AVM Productions project Bhakta Prahlada (1967) catapulted him as sage Narada in the hearts of Telugus, forever.
Adi Anaadiyu Neeve Deva, an imposing song in Behag raga, was a big hit. He acted confidently in combination with the great thespian, S.V. Ranga Rao.
Balamuralikrishna is the only singer who won the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer and also Best Music Director.
Here are the five gems from his singing career in Telugu:
1. Varamosage Vanamali (Bhakta Prahlada, 1967)
2. Eti Loni Keratalu (Uyyala Jampala, 1965)
3. Sri Rama Jaya Rama (Mutyala Muggu, 1975)
4. Adi Anaadiyu Neeve Deva (Bhakta Prahlada, 1967)
5. Mouname Nee Bhasha (Guppedu Manasu, 1979.)
We bow before the great genius, M. Balamuralikrishna.