S P Balasubrahmanyam’s condition had worsened in the last 24 hours and he was on maximum life support
Celebrated singer S P Balasubrahmanyam died in a Chennai hospital after almost two months of treatment. He was 74. Tributes to him poured in on social media soon after Mr Balasubrahmanyam’s son S P Charan announced his death. Politicians such as H D Deve Gowda, Shiva Kumar and Khushbu Sundar shared posts, as did Hema Malini. Soundarya Rajinikanth, daughter of Mr Balasubrahmanyam’s longtime collaborator Rajinikanth, was among the first to share a tribute, writing “RIP SPB sir.” “Devastated,” wrote A R Rahman, for whom S P Balasubrahmanyam had sung several songs. The singer had been in hospital since August 5.
SPB, as the beloved singer was popularly known, had been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19. He tested negative over a month later but could not be taken off the ventilator. On Thursday, the hospital – MGM Healthcare – said in a medical bulletin that Mr Balasubrahmanyam’s condition had worsened in the last 24 hours and that he was on maximum life support.
S P Balasubrahmanyam’s son S P Charan has been sharing health updates about his father on social media and was optimistic these last few weeks. A day ago, he wrote on Instagram that S P Balasubrahmanyam was making “steady progress” and was undergoing physiotherapy. SPB was “eager to leave the hospital as early as possible,” S P Charan wrote.
Some weeks ago, S P Charan announced in a video posted on Instagram: “We were expecting dad’s lungs to improve as they were but unfortunately we are still not at that point where we could rid him of the ventilator. But the good news is that dad is COVID negative.” SPB was watching cricket on the iPad as well as writing and communicating, his son said.
S P Balasubrahmanyam was taken to hospital on August 5 and shared a video saying he was “perfectly fine” and expected to be discharged in two days. On August 14, the hospital said in a medical bulletin that Mr Balasubrahmanyam’s condition had deteriorated and that he had been put on life support.
The statement from MGM Healthcare read: “In a late night development on 13th August 2020, his condition had deteriorated and based on the advice of the expert medical team attending to him, he has been moved to the intensive Care Unit and he is on life support and his condition remains critical.” Just a day before, the hospital had said that S P Balasubrahmanyam had been admitted for “mild symptoms of COVID continues to be stable and is maintaining normal oxygen saturation.”
In his video shared from when he was first taken to hospital, S P Balasubrahmanyam said: “Last two to three days, I have been having a little discomfort. Discomfort means little chest congestion, which for a singer is nonsense. Had cold and on and off fever. These three things, otherwise no problem. But I didn’t want to take it easy, so I went to the hospital and checked. They said it was just a mild, very mild case of corona,” he said adding that he could have self-isolated at home but opted to be hospitalised so it would be easier for his family. “Nobody has to worry about this one. So please don’t bother to call me to find out how I am. I am perfectly alright except the cold and fever. Fever has also subsided.”
S P Balasubrahmanyam, winner of six National Awards, leaves behind a vast body of work that spans 40,000 songs in 16 languages. He worked extensively for Ilaiyaraaja, A R Rahman and other composers. In the Hindi film industry, he sang for Salman Khan in several films. He was also an actor, producer and voice actor. SPB was a recipient of the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan.