M S Viswanathan lived, breathed music

DECCAN CHRONICLE | G. DHANANJEYAN
Published Jul 15, 2015, 9:08 am IST
Updated Jan 10, 2016, 8:38 am IST
MSV in combination with poet Kannadasan composed over 1,200 songs
M.S. Viswanathan
 M.S. Viswanathan
M.S. Viswanathan (MSV), a legend, known for his light music, will forever live in the hearts of film lovers through his songs, which were soulful, melodious and meaningful. MSV in combination with poet Kannadasan composed over 1,200 songs, which remain popular even today after 30 years, a testimony to the eternal songs this combo has delivered. 
 
As a young boy from Palakkad, Kerala, MSV found his music guru in Neelakanda Bhagavathar, who taught him Carnatic music and made him an expert. He then got into stage plays in Kerala and acted in the play Harischandra in the role of Logidasa at the age of 13 and got good appreciation, which made him come to Coimbatore and join Jupiter Pictures. His acting career did not take off there and hence he became an office boy for the production house to earn his living. 
 
Along with that he also acted in small roles in a few films.  Music director T.R. Pappa helped MSV to join S.V. Venkataraman’s music troupe as an assistant. MSV found his true calling in music there. 
 
He then joined S.M. Subbiah Naidu and assisted him in many films in music composition. He shifted from there and joined music director C.R. Subburaman as a harmonium player. It is there he met T.K. Ramamurthy.  Subburaman trained the duo in song composition and for a few films the two composed the songs but Subburaman was credited as the composer, which was acknowledged by Subburaman himself in an interview. 
 
The untimely death of Subburaman during the composition for the film Devadas (1953) gave the break to MSV-TKR to compose the songs and complete the film. The duo came out with brilliant songs for the film, including Ulagaemaayam vaazhvemaayam and created history when the film became a musical hit.  He remained a most wanted music director until 1985 and dominated the South Indian cinema for over three decades through his soulful songs.
 
MSV’s work was not recognised by the Centre with any Padma award or Dada Saheb Phalke award, though many, whose achievements were lesser than him, were rewarded with these. It is time the government recognized this great musician and conferred the Padma award on him posthumously. 
 
MSV, who gave the break to many lyric writers including the legend Vaalee and singers like S.P. Balasubramaniam, lived a simple life until his death and never accepted himself as a legend. He remained an enthusiastic learner and tried his hand in acting in films during later years and shined in that also (Kadhal Mannan, Kadhalaa Kadhalaa and others) 
 
(The writer is author of the National Award winning book Pride of Tamil Cinema) 
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