The ‘Mellisai Mannar’ (King of Light Music) is no more.
Music composer M. S. Viswanathan, aged 87, died on July 14 at 4.30am. The legend had been undergoing treatment for age related ailments for the past twenty five days at Fortis Malar hospital in Chennai. MSV is survived by four sons and three daughters. His last rites will be performed on Wednesday.
MSV, as he was fondly known, began his career in 1952 with Tamil film Panam, a Sivaji Ganesan starrer. In the fifties, when music technology was widely unheard of, MSV incorporated humming, choruses and whistling into his songs. During the seventies he adapted to the changing times by including western music and disco, too.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Tuesday condoled the death of music director M.S. Viswanathan and said the central government should have honoured him with a Padma award.
In a statement, Jayalalithaa said it pained her that Viswanathan, who had got several awards, was not honoured with a Padma award.
Jayalalithaa said since 1991, when she became the chief minister, she has been recommending Viswanathan’s name for the Padma Bhushan, the country’s third highest civilian honour.
“The central governments that do not do anything in favour of the states did not lend an ear to this as well,” she said.
Jayalalithaa said by scoring the music for “Tamizh Thai Vazthu” (Invocation of Mother Tamil), Viswanathan has secured a place in the hearts of every Tamilian.
Tamil Nadu has adopted the song as its anthem.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a statement: “The unfortunate demise of M.S. Viswanathan is a major loss to music lovers. People across generations enjoyed his compositions. When it came to music, M.S. Viswanathan was always ahead of his time. Condolences to his family and his several admirers,”
In his condolence message, DMK president M. Karunanidhi said only after the advent of the Viswanathan-Ramaurthy combine did Tamil movie songs start reaching the masses.
“Sad to know abt the demise of music legend M S Viswanathan. His music compositions will keep him etched in people’s memories forever. #RIPMSV,” Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore tweeted.
PMK leader S. Ramadoss said Viswanathan was a humble person and that why he was able to work with music composers who were far junior to him.
Singers including S.P. Balasubramanian, Vani Jairam and S. Janaki, were launched by MSV. Malayalam singer Jayachandran was introduced to Tamil cinema in 1973 with the song Thanga Chimzhpol. Veteran singer K.J. Yesudas got his break with Kathalikka Neramillai in 1964.
MSV worked with fellow composer T.K. Ramamoorthy for over a decade. Much sought after by directors like S.S. Vasan, B.R. Panthalu, K. Balachander, MSV teamed up with poet and lyricist Kannadasan in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Later he worked with poet Vaali. Besides Tamil films, his repertoire includes songs from Telugu and Malayalam cinema.
Age did not lessen his passion for music as was evident in 2013 when the octogenarian did a high voltage song, Alayae O Alayae, for Tamil film Neelam.
The same year, he sang the title track for the remake of K. Balachander’s Thillu Mullu, directed by Badri. MSV had composed the title track for the original film and the song was sung by S.P. Balasubramaniam.
For the 2013 remake, Yuvan Shankar Raja worked on the remix and MSV even danced for the video.
MSV is survived by four sons, Gopikrishnan, Muralidharan, Prakash, Haridas and three daughters, Latha Mohan, Madhu Ashok and Shanti Kumar.
The cremation will be held on July 15 in Chennai.