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‘I cannot repay their love’ - S P Balasubrahmanyam and Eelam Tamils

SPB looks across Eelam as he flies to Jaffna for the first time in 2016.

As Tamils and music lovers around the world mourn the death of legendary South Indian musician S P Balasubrahmanyam, we look back at his support for Eelam Tamils and his famous 2016 concert in Jaffna.

Before he had visited the island, Balasubrahmanyam was already a household name. The renowned playback singer had already smashed records around the world and recorded dozens of songs praising the Tamil Eelam liberation movement. Given his long history of support for the Eelam struggle, there was a buzz when it was announced that he was to visit Jaffna in 2016 – the first time Balasubrahmanyam would come to the historic city. He was due to perform with another Kollywood celebrity Gangai Amaran, composer and brother of music director Ilayaraaja.

Hours before he had even arrived there were queues in Jaffna. The singer himself, was clearly enthralled, posting updates on his Facebook page of his helicopter landing and the crowds of fans waving as his flight touched down.

“I cannot repay their love,” he posted. On landing in Jaffna, Gangai Amaran said that SPB and himself were overjoyed to be able to meet their fans in Eelam

As he took to the stage that evening, he strolled on and announced “Intha mannukku vanakkam” – ‘My salutations to this soil’.

Drawing rapturous applause from the crowd, he went on to pay tribute to the tens of thousands of Tamils killed during the armed conflict. “My salutations to all those who are not with us now, but are watching over from above,” he continued.

“When I think that in 50 years of singing this is the first time I'm coming to Jaffna, I feel pain and joy. I'm very happy that God has finally given me that opportunity.”

“I'm here to give a small cure to your wounded hearts.”

For the next few hours, to the crowd of hundreds, SPB sang a collection of enthralling classics.

See the concert in full below.

His dedication towards Eelam Tamils did not stop there. Just last year, Balasubrahmanyam showed his love once more as he surprised a fan in Malaysia. Mathimaran had been injured in a bomb explosion in Sri Lanka and had since left the island. Having spent months recovering, he was left blind in both eyes. “My whole life was changed,” he commented.

 “It’s fine if I can’t see, as long as I still have my hearing,” said the SPB fan.

As he spoke of his adoration for Balasubrahmanyam’s music and recited one of his favourite melodies, the legendary singer walked in and joined the song for a surprise meeting with his fan.

The pair embraced and sang songs together, with Balasubrahmanyam telling Mathimaran “Nothing gives me more happiness than keeping you happy”.

See the encounter below.

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