S.P. Sailaja, is a versatile Indian singer. She lent her voice to Telugu, Tamil and Kannada films. She has sung about 5000 songs to date.
She was born as Sripathi Panditaradhyula Sailaja into an orthodox Salivate family in Konetammapeta in the Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh . Her father SP Sambamurthy was a well-known exponent of Harikatha and her brother S.P. Balasubramanyam is a prolific singer in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. She is married to Subhalekha Sudhakar, a Tollywood Actor. The couple have a son, Sreekar.
As a dubbing artist
She has also given voice for various artists like Tabu, Sonali Bendre etc.
As an actress
She acted in Sagara Sangamam, a Telugu film directed by K. Viswanath in which she played the role of a Classical dancer.
Besides a Playback singer, she is also a Classical Dancer.
Teta teta Telugula… the melodic number sets the mood of the programme. S.P. Sailaja, one-half-of-the-judges for AirTel Saptaswaralu exudes a quiet charm as she hums along merrily. “Chala baagundi kaani…” she voices her views but gently without hurting the singer’s self-esteem. The shooting of the musical show ends and Sailaja gracefully walks back to her room at Sarathi Studios in Ameerpet. “I am just not used to this make-up. I am a very simple person with simple thoughts,” she says softly. The glow on her face is hard not to miss. “Well, the classic melodies I have heard today have filled me with joy,” she says a smile punctuating her sentence and adds,
“It’s parents who have to teach children to take pride in being a Telugu. English is not bad but not at the cost of one’s mother tongue.” There is a zen like calmness around the songstress, who has lent voice to some memorable Telugu films. Be it romantic, folk, or devotional numbers… Sailaja has carved a niche for herself. As the sister of the legendary singer S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, Sailaja held her forth and has come a long way. “There is an age gap of 16 1/2 years between me and annaya. More than my brother, he is like a father-figure to me,” she says.
Making her debut
The singer recollects a few incidents of the industry she grew up in.
“I was a teenager when I first started singing in films. I was like a regular teenager, watching movies and spending time at the beach,” she reminisces. And, when the role of a carefree and arrogant young dancer came her way for the film Sagara Sangamam, her answer was a big no. “I was reluctant as I was trained only in Bharatanatyam but in the film I had to perform other dance forms like Kathak too. While shooting my introductory song Om Namah Shivaya at Ravindra Bharathi, I became nervous on the stage and refused to act. However, director K. Vishwanath, who also happens to be my first cousin prevailed upon me and the movie became a turning point in my life.”
While she shared the screen with bigwigs like Kamal Haasan and Jayaprada, Sailaja says, the shooting was not an easy affair. “During the song Vedam, I had to stamp Kamal Haasan’s feet in rage and I couldn’t muster enough courage to do it,” she recollects. Singing for two decades and with 6000 songs in her kitty, Sailaja considers herself a student of music even now! “Hard work is the only recipe for success. We need to give our best to our work and the result is not in our hands,” she says stressing on Bhagavad Gita’s universal message.
The switch over from films to television during the early 90s has been a natural phenomenon and she believes shifting careers helped her to reinvent herself. As a guiding force to many-a-youngster, she enjoys her stint on the small screen.
“The music industry is very big and I had my share of success. I was matured enough to understand that it was time for someone else to enjoy their fame. I just moved on,” she says. It was music which kept her occupied on the television and her shows with Manu zoomed high on the TRP ladder. Even as a judge, she takes care to encourage young singers rather than be harsh with comments.
On why she maintains a low-profile, she says, “I try to give interviews to the media but if there is nothing new to talk about, the chat becomes a routine affair. I want my songs to be in the spotlight more than me.”
She lives in Chennai and comes to Hyderabad for her shootings. She keeps herself busy with stage shows and by launching devotional albums. She loves watching movies, and spending time with her husband Sudhakar and teenage son Sreekar. “Success means different things to different people. To me, it’s about happiness and being content with what I have achieved,” she concludes.
- Saagara Sangamam – (1983) Kum. Sailaja
- Unnai Charanadainthaenv – (2004)
- Mrugaraaju – (2001)
- Aawaragaadu – (2000)
- Annamayya – (1997)
- Subha Sankalpam – (1995)
- Aagraham – (1993)
- Siva Shakthi – (1991)
- Pelli Pustakam – (1991)
- Appula Appa Rao – (1991)
- Sutradhaarulu – (1990)
- Kokila – (1989)
- Raja Chinna Roja – (1989)
- Swara Kalpana – (1989)
- Bava Marudula Sawal – (1988)
- Rudra Veena – (1988)
- Swayam Krushi – (1987)
- Sri Kanaka Mahalakshmi Recording Dance Troupe – (1987)
- Magadheerudu – (1986)
- Padamati Sandhya Ragam – (1986)
- Sirivennela – (1986)
- Thazhuvaatha Kaigal – (1986)
- Sur Sangam – (1985)
- Jackie – (1985)
- Swathi – (1985)
- Swathi Muthyam – (1985)
- Mayuri – (1984)
- Janani Janmabhoomi – (1984)
- Rendu Jella Seetha – (1983)
- Sagara Sangamam – (1983)
- Sitaara – (1983)
- Subhalekha – (1982)
- Aagaaya Gangai – (1982)
- Seethakoka Chilaka – (1981)
- Vamsa Vriksham – (1980)
- Mosagadu – (1980)
- Shankarabharanam – (1979)
- Manavoori Pandavulu – (1978)
- Pranam Kareedu – (1978)
- Sivaranjani – (1978)
- Vasantha Kokila – (for Sridevi) (1983)
- Ninne Pelladatha – (for Tabu) (1996)
- Aavida Maa Aavide – (for Tabu) (1998)
- Murari – (for Sonali Bendre) (2001)