Chennai | Legendary music composer of multiple language films M S Viswanathan, who scored music for over 1,000 films, passed away at a private hospital here today after prolonged age related illness. He was 88 and is survived by four sons and three daughters.
The cremation will be held tomorrow, he passed away after about a month’s medical treatment for old age related illness, Viswanathan’s son Gopi said.
Affectionately called by the acronym MSV, Viswanathan was a household name in Tamil Nadu, his death was condoled by the Tamil film fraternity and political leaders.
Expressing grief, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said he remained a legend in Tamil cinema.
Born in Palakkad in Kerala on June 24, 1928, he scored music for about 1,200 films in languages, including Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada, many of them in a brilliant partnership spanning over a decade with his associate T K Ramamurthy.
Together they shared the famous creditline of Viswanathan-Ramamurthy.
His association with iconic lyricist of yesteryear Kaviyarasu Kannadasan is legendary and it resulted in evergreen songs and he came to be called as Mellisai Mannar or King of Melody.
Anecdotes of how MSV used to compose music with his humble harmonium to Kannadasan’s lyrics are popular in Tamil Nadu.
MSV also acted in character roles in over 10 films, including Tamil comic hit Kadala Kadala.
He scored music for a wide range of films, including of Tamil super stars of yesteryears like Sivaji Ganesan and M G Ramachandran (later AIADMK founder and Chief Minister).
Pasamalar, Paavamannippu, Paalum Pazhamum, Par Magaley Par, Padithhal Mattum Podhuma, Deivathaai, Panam Padaithavan, Padagotti, Anbe Va, Parakkum Pavai, Ramu and Thamarai Nenjam were among the super hit Tamil films, the songs of which still reverberate in every nook and cranny of Tamil Nadu. His Telugu hits include Maro Charithra (made into Hindi as ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye), 47 Rojulu, Tenali Ramakrishna, Maa Gopi, Ramu, Kokilamma, Laila and Samrat Asoka. He brought about several changes in music composition and successfully integrated elements and traditions of folk, rock, jazz, carnatic, western and western classical in film music, film music researcher D Thiagarajan said. There is no genre of music untouched by him, he added.
Sonnathu Needhana (Nenjil Oru Alayam), Viswanathan Velai Vendum (Kadalikka Neram Illai), Kettavarellam Padalam (Thangai) are among MSV’s all time favourites that are still popular in Tamil Nadu.
Though Viswanathan’s career in music composition began with the 1952 Tamil movie Panam it actually started when he became an office boy in a film studio in 1940s in Tamil Nadu as a teen. He became an assistant to noted music composer C R Subburaman and later S M Subbiah Naidu, Thiagarajan said, adding that Naidu went on to recommend his aide’s name to film producers. Some of Naidu’s tunes were composed by MSV. Naidu himself has said this and he began recommending MSV to MGR and for decades later the Tamil film music was entirely his, he recalled.
MSV’s last film was Valiban Sutrum Ulagam three years ago. He is credited for grooming several music composers like Shankar Ganesh and playback singers SP Balasubramaniam and SP Shailaja. Significantly, Viswanathan composed music for the official invocation song for Mother Tamil, Neerarum Kadaludutham, played in all government and public functions in Tamil Nadu. Condolences, meanwhile, continued to pour in. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said, his songs are etched in the hearts of Tamil people, and with his unparalleled talent, had brought great pride to Tamil cinema and the state.
DMK President M Karunanidhi said, He was an affable man and his life which begain in poverty, achieved amazing heights. Ace music composer A R Rahman in his tweet said, MSV took us to the deepest core of Tamil and colorful melodies over the past 40 years. We’ve lost our beloved melodic genius. May almighty bless his soul.
Tamil Superstar Rajinikanth said, He lived like a saint, he was behind the success of ace film directors including Sridhar, K Balachander and mega stars like MGR and Sivaji Ganesan. Noted Tamil actor of yesteryears, Sivakumar said for all what he achieved, he was very humble and down-to-earth. His life was an example to youngsters to emulate.
Kamal Hassan condoled the death of Viswanathan saying the music legend was a part of Tamil and South Indian cultural tapestry and his music would stay on. Mr MSV has blended into Tamil cinema history inseparably. He is part of Tamil and south Indian cultural tapestry. MSV has become the back ground score for many people’s lives Kamal Hassan said in his message.
People nostalgically recount their own life with his music playing in their minds. He has fans beyond his own generation and time. A good example is Shruti my daughter. She was studying music in the USA and on her return wanted to meet Mr. MSV for she had become his fan, he said.
Noting that Viswanathan often brushed his own fame and glory aside to celebrate other artistes irrespective of their age, he said: We will only miss him in his physical form. His music will stay on. I am thankful to him for enriching my life with his music.
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