Dr M Balamuralikrishna was a genius. He used to collaborate with a lot of musicians, and especially those from North India. I don’t think any other classical musician from South got the respect and love that he got from his admirers in North India. He had a lovely voice, and when he used to sing, everyone would just stop doing whatever they were busy with, and used to listen to him patiently.
He got more famous after the song Mile Sur Mera Tumhara, and he was someone who was very humble about all the respect and affection he got from people. Be it Mumbai, Kolkata or Delhi -- the auditorium used to be packed with people for his performance. Just like I used to collaborate with violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman, he used to collaborate a lot with Pandit Bhimsen Joshi ji, and some of their collaborations are really famous.
I too had collaborated with him for many concerts -- both in India and abroad. I remember in 1995, we were invited by UNESCO in Paris, where we played one after the other our raags dedicated to Bapu -- Mahatma Gandhi ji. After that we received the Gandhi Peace Medal in presence of the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao. The same year, we did a concert in Mumbai, where we performed a duet. That was also in the presence of Narasimha Rao ji.
He was a multidimensional artist and apart from his beautiful voice, he loved playing musical instruments as well. He loved playing the viola and we used to play together for hours.
He kept on insisting that he wanted to collaborate with my sons -- Ayaan and Amaan as well. He kept on telling me that he really wants to work with them, but unfortunately it never happened.
We were like brothers, and whenever I used to visit Chennai, we used to go to his house and have food together. Pata hee nai chala ki woh 86 saal ke ho bhi gaye. We musicians are a close family and his death is a personal loss for me.
( As told to Samarth Goyal)
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