I don’t know music, but….
It is true that everyone who has come on this earth has to go. However, sometimes, when some people leave this earth, there is a sense of vacuum created. Building up such persona is not that easy. It requires hard work, talent and expertise in the respective field. He is such a person who had reached not only certain section of society but masses at large.
Early morning, he sings ‘Suprabhatam’ before so many lords. His rendition of Suprabhatam to Sri Venkateshwara Swamy of Tirumala is very famous. He has sung most difficult classical compositions and also sung kirtanas, bhajans, abhangs and so on. He is one of those unique persons who retained innocence and child like curiosity despite growing so big. That is why the name ‘Bala’muralikrishna was apt even at his age of 86!
He was not just a vocalist. He was also a composer (vaaggeyakara which means the one who composes and sings it) and knew to play violin, viola, mrudangam, khanjira with top grading in All India Radio. He could sing in all the three octaves with ease. His voice remained attractive for all and he could mesmerise audience with his innovations and fine voice modulations.
He was a person who challenged the sangeetha shaastras by creating ragas with only four notes whereas the earlier rule said that at least five notes are necessary to form a raga. Ragas like Lavangi, Mahati are his creations in which he has composed songs to prove that these ragas have the same strength to create music despite having four notes.
Muraligaaru, as he was called by his fans, was a person with simplicity and humbleness. He used to accept all critics about him but still continued in his path of knowing music. Once during an interaction, he said to a media person, “I don’t know music”. The person was taken aback! But Balamuraligaaru politely said “But, music knows me”.
He used to share some of his stories with the audience during his live concerts. Once he shared this story of acting in movies. He was offered a role in a movie when he was in his peaks of music career. He accepted it as it was a new experience for him. He played the role of Narada in his first movie. That became very successful. He became popular as an actor too and people recognized him for Narada. Later on he started getting many offers for films. However, he rejected them all. The reason was he was offered the role of Narada again and again but there was no heroine for Narada! After telling the reason he smiled with his contagious smile and the whole audience fell into laughter.
He was awarded with Padma Vibhushana by Government of India (GoI) in 1991. He had also collaborated with stalwart like Pandit Bhimsen Joshi to start jugalbandi and was equally talented and popular like Pandit ji. He also deserved a Bharata Ratna for his contribution for music. However, successive governments failed to felicitate him with highest civilian award, when he was alive, which he deserved with all his qualities and qualifications.
Though he is no more, the technology has helped us to have so many audio and video recordings of his singing which will be available for the upcoming generations. Physically he may not be there around us. But he will be there musically.