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Managalampalli Balamuralikrishna, a musical legend in his own lifetime and still active even much after completing his Golden Jubilee of singing career, entertaining audience all over the world with his music. He is the one and only one Carnatic musician of his great stature who also made a mark in the world of Telugu film music and acting. 'Sati-Savitri' produced by S Varalakshmi stands out as one of the great musicals of Telugu cinema in which Balamurali gave his playback voice to Akkineni Nageswara Rao. S Varalakshmi and Balamurali made a strange musical combination in that film. He played Narada in Bhakta Prahlada. Everyone knows Narada means plenty of devotional music, rendering which Balamurali continues to live in the memory of music-loving Telugu audiences. There are many more films that have one or two songs of his. But as a sensible Carnatic classical musician he has no bounds.
This time he celebrated his birthday almost a fortnight in advance, owing to the pressure of time and pre-appointed visits to foreign countries. Balamurali's birthday falls on 6th of July. The function was held in the specious hall of Taj Mahal Hotel, Abids. And the ring leader who made this event most memorable was Neti Srirama Sharma, a colleague of Balamurali in the profession and a classmate too, as he revealed at the function. "Myself and Neti Srirama Sharma were in the same class. But I left the school in three months and Neti studied for two more years", he said.
Neti Srirama Sharma and Balamurali learned Carnatic music at the feet of Parupalli Ramakrishnayya Pantulu, a role model for the creation of Sankarasastry in Sankarabharanam, by K Viswanath. Even the get up given to that character was also that of Parupalli. Later they parted ways. And Srirama Sharma feels grateful to Balamurali for it was he who got Neti Srirama Sharma appointed as musician in All India Radio. Neti who is also of the same age group, but younger by a couple of years thought it fit to use this occasion to pay his respects to Balamurali by gifting him a Rs.75, 116/-. And he did this in a big way inviting almost all the musicians of the twin cities. And also music lovers and organizers of music sabhas. It was a big gathering. Balamurali with a touch of sentiment presented Srirama Sharma a chain that he has been wearing in all the concerts he was giving during these fifty years.
Balamurali then said that he is not a musician, but an instrument of God to convey music through him. In Telugu his sentence has a touch of poetic expression: "Bhagavanthudu nannu panikirani vanigaa kaaka, sangeetha parikaraaniga viniyoginchadu". 'Parikaram' means instrument.
"If anyone asks me I tell it, whole heartedly, that I don't know music. But Music knows me. It is using me as an instrument", he explained. "My strength is the blessings of great gurus. I had the occasion of rendering as ten year old, before Adibhatla Narayanadas (Harikatha Pitamaha). He blessed me. But guru means only one guru, our guru (Parupalli). He knows how to teach every individual student understating their weak points and strong points. Sharma (Neti Srirama Sharma) acquired great 'Pandityam' (scholarship). He also earned name as best guru, like our guru Parupalli. It is said that it is difficult for any disciple to clear that indebtedness to a guru. But the day the guru feels that he is indebted to his disciple, is the day that can be regarded as the day of the sishya having paid back what he has taken from the guru. Today Neti Srirama Sarma did that", Balamurali complimented.
Balamurali later speaking to this correspondent said that he was soon receiving the Cavalier award of France, at a function to be organized by the French Consulate at Delhi. He recalled that Sivaji Ganeshan the first Indian to receive that award, was presented the award at Chennai. He also then referred to the Central Sangeetha Nataka Academy politics, to which he resigned protesting against the then Chairman; and said that the Chairman was replaced with another person. Balamurali served it as executive committee member.- KOUNDINYA