One of India’s most renowned film singers, SP Balasubrahmanyam, has died following hospitalization for Covid-19 and weeks spent on life support, the hospital treating him said in a bulletin Friday.
Balasubrahmanyam had been on life support since August 14 for severe Covid-19 pneumonia and was being closely monitored by health workers in a critical care unit, Anuradha Baskaran, Assistant Director of Medical Services at MGM Healthcare in Chennai, southeastern India, said in a statement.
“In a further setback this morning, despite maximal life support measures and the best efforts of the clinical team, his condition deteriorated further and he suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest,” Baskaran said.
Balasubrahmanyam died just after 1 p.m. local time on Friday, Baskaran said, adding that she was announcing the news “with profound grief.”
A leading figure in Indian cinema, Balasubrahmanyam, known to fans simply as “SPB” or “Balu,” has more than 1,000 credits as a playback singer – a voice artist who records songs that are later mimed by actors in films – in languages including Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, English, Bengali and Punjabi.
Balasubrahmanyam was admitted to hospital on August 5, and tested negative for Covid-19 on September 4, Baskaran said.
India has recorded more than 5.8 million coronavirus cases, including 92,290 deaths, since the start of the pandemic, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked for a reduction in coronavirus “local lockdowns” on Wednesday, despite the country having the second highest total of recorded cases, and the world’s third highest death toll.
In India, individual state governments are empowered to go beyond the restrictions issued by the federal government and as cases have continued to stack up across states, chief ministers have announced partial lockdowns.
In an online meeting Wednesday, Modi asked state chief ministers to reconsider state or city lockdowns that are hampering economic activity. “We should focus on micro-containment zones which will help in reducing the spread of coronavirus and allow life and activity to continue normally. These 1-2 day long local lockdowns and their effectiveness should be surveyed by each state. It should not hamper the re-starting of economic activity in your states,” he said.
Manveena Suri reported from New Delhi, Amy Woodyatt wrote from London. Swati Gupta contributed reporting.