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VaidyMSV & Sriram Lax

Joined: 15 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:39 am    Post subject: THIRD EYE PRESENTATIONS -written by MR.K P SUNIL Reply with quote


It was the year 1972. Our school had organised a musical concert as part of a fund collection initiative. The function was at the University Centenary Hall. A ticket had been thrust upon me; and so as not to waste it, I decided to go along with a few friends. We were all prepared for a boring evening and we had informed our parents that we would be back early...

6 PM, and the show began with a bang. A diminutive middle-aged man in white dhoti and white shirt, with sacred ash across his forehead stood behind a harmonium at the centre of an 80-piece orchestra. He was a literal live-wire. Banging away on the keys of his harmonium one minute, gesticulating to the violinists, punching rhythm with the percussionists, encouraging the singers... He was there all over and the overall impact of the concert was mind-boggling. T M Soundararajan was there. So was L R Eswari. A younger and slimmer S P Balasubramaniam. The mellifluous P B Srinivas... I never realised till that day that a light music concert featuring Tamil songs could electrify a packed auditorium of juvenile school students. The crowd went into raptures. Men climbed on the chairs for better view of the stage as every vacant space was taken up by frenzied youngsters gyrating, banging their heads and dancing away. The climax was the song Ennadi Rakamma...


It was Mellisai Mannar M S Viswanathan all the way. In one evening he became my idol. I decided that some time in life, I should meet him...

August 29, 2012. It was the 13th Anniversary of Jaya TV. It was an evening of song and dance. And orchestrating the event was none other than Melissai Mannar MSV. As the Vice President of Jaya TV, I had the honour of organising the show. On the occasion, we were presenting MSV with 60 Gold Coins (one coin for every year of music he had generated for Tamil cinema). We presented him with a Ford Ikon car. And we conferred on him the title of Thirai Isai Chakravarthy (the Emperor of Film Music). The honours were done by none other than the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, Ms J Jayalalithaa, who was the Chief Guest. And present on the dais were the giants of the Tamil film industry – Illaya Raja, K Balachander, AVM Saravanan, Rajnikanth, Kamal Hasan... For me, it was a day of fulfilment. A day on which, in my own small way, I was able to place a small feather in the cap of the Genius.

Between these two events spanning more than four decades, MSV had become a sort of a father figure for me. In 1992-93, after bidding adieu to The Illustrated Weekly of India, I had launched Telly Zoom, a company that was to make a mark on the small screen as one of the best producers of TV software in Tamil (including the hugely successful JACKPOT, that was aired for a decade on Jaya TV). One of my partners in the venture was my friend Prakash, one of MSV’s sons. Through him I got to meet the Legend and to interact with him. I too referred to MSV as Acha (Dad) as Prakash used to address him.

In 1995, Telly Zoom took the TV rights of the programme Kannadasan Ninaivalaigal – a programme organised by MSV to collect funds for erecting a statue for his bosom friend of many decades, Kaviarasar Kannadasan. The twin shows in Salem and Coimbatore, which featured MSV on stage with a galaxy of legends like K V Mahadevan, Illaya Raja and Shankar-Ganesh together for the first time, were roaring successes. The venues were choking with people. The tickets were all sold out. There were thousands of gate crashers as well... MSV was a great musician, but a bad businessman. The amount we paid for the TV rights was probably the only money that he finally got for the statue. Most of those who were with him in organising the shows ended up duping him! But he persisted with his efforts and with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa lending a helping hand, the statue today stands proudly on G N Chetty Road in Chennai – a tribute to an enduring friendship between two legends.

Music flowed in MSV’s veins. Coming from very humble origins from Elapulli village in Palghat in Kerala, he learned Carnatic music by listening to the strains coming from the home of a neighbouring vidwan, teaching other students. Whether any of the regular students attained any degree of proficiency, one may never know. But by the time he was 13, the young Viswanathan was proficient enough to perform on stage. But poverty forced him to look for a job. He tried his hand at acting in small roles as a child artiste. But with none to promote his case, made little headway. Finally, he ended up as an odd-jobs boy in the recording studio of Jupiter Studios in Coimbatore. His job : serving tea to the musicians, running errands, sweeping the recording hall and wiping clean all the musical instruments...

The young Viswanathan loved the musical instruments. And whenever he was alone, he played with them. Very soon he became an adept with the harmonium. And very often, he created his own tunes. One day, the renowned composer of the time, S M Subbiah Naidu, who was using the recording studio for composing, was taking a midnight stroll in the gardens. He had been given some particularly difficult lyrics to put to tune that day. The words were just not fitting into any tune he thought of. And Naidu was lost in thought. Suddenly he heard a tune being played on the harmonium. A tune that exactly suited the lyrics. Naidu went running into the studio, only to see the “tea-boy” Viswanathan pumping at the keys. When Naidu burst into the studio, Viswanathan froze. He expected a dressing-down for meddling with the musical instruments. But instead, Subbiah Naidu hugged him. “This will be the tune for this song”, he said. “But don’t tell anyone that you composed the tune. Then the producers will not accept it. So history recorded the song as one composed by Subbiah Naidu... The film Abhimanyu turned out to be a big hit. And the talking point of the film was the song Puthu Vasanthamaana Vaazhvile, the first ever composition of MSV!

A couple of months later, Jupiter Studios decided to relocate to Madras (now Chennai). Most of the menial staff were thrown out. Amongst them was Viswanathan. But Subbiah Naidu stormed into the chambers of the studio owner, Somu. “If you want me to compose music in Jupiter Studios in Madras, Viswanathan comes with me”, he shouted. “Do you know, he was the one who actually composed the song Puthu Vasanthamaana Vaazhvile? But for that song, the film would have flopped!” Somu relented and Viswanathan went to Chennai, which was to be his home for all of 7 decades till his death on the 14th of July, 2015.

Jupiter Studios downed shutters several decades ago. Today, it is an almost forgotten chapter in the history of Tamil cinema. But its illustrious son MS Viswanathan went on to compose for more than 1700 films... More than 25,000 songs... For legends like MGR, Sivaji Ganesan, Jayalalithaa, Vijayanthimala, Gemini Ganesan, Rajnikanth, Kamal Hasan.... Using legends like P B Srinivas, T M Soundararajan, Seergazhi Govindarajan, P Susheela, S Janaki, K J Yesudas, S P Balasubramaniam... In building up the larger-than-life political image of MGR, the first person to rule the state of Tamilnadu for three terms in succession, MSV had a major role to play. He composed music in Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada. He worked with four Chief Ministers — N T Rama Rao, M G Ramachandran, M Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa. But MSV himself always remained apolitical, composing for films featuring MGR and Sivaji Ganesan even at the time when the rivalry between the two was at its peak.

Throughout life, MSV always remained humble. He never forgot his simple origins. He never looked down on others. He never portrayed himself as a genius. Rather, he liked to project himself, even at 87, as an ordinary student of music. He firmly believed that man was mortal, while his melodies were immortal. When he sang, his voice had a timbre and range that was unparalleled.

He never hesitated to join hands with “juniors” in the field. For the film Melle Thiranthadhu Kadhavu, he partnered Illaya Raja to compose music. The songs were a runaway hit.

For the film Sangamam, he sang to the composition of A R Rahman, who once used to play the Keyboard in MSV’s troupe.

He was a team man and one of the architects of the Tamilnadu Cine Musicians Union. He was instrumental in setting up the Indian Performing Right Society in Tamilnadu for safeguarding the intellectual property rights of musicians. In the Tamil film music world, no other composer was as diverse as MSV was. It is not just for many of his evergreen songs, but also for the State song of the Government of Tamil Nadu — Neerarum Kadalodutha — that MSV will for ever be remembered.

For all his achievements, official honours and recognitions eluded him. Though a fit candidate for the Padma awards and the Dadsaheb Phalke Award, he was never ever considered for these. Probably underlining the fact that he was no lobbyist nor did he employ anyone to lobby for himself.

This blog I dedicate to this unsung genius who took film music to dizzying heights by his sheer brilliance. May he rest in peace.

Last edited by VaidyMSV & Sriram Lax on Fri Aug 07, 2015 10:36 pm; edited 2 times in total
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VaidyMSV & Sriram Lax

Joined: 15 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


I was associated with Thirai Isai Chakravarthy M S Viswanathan in four projects in all. The first was when he launched an initiative to raise funds to install a statue for his bosom friend and acclaimed lyricist, Kaviarasu Kannadasan. The second was when I produced a 14 episode TV biopic on him titled Mellisai Mannarin Isai Payanam (The Musical Journey of the King of Music). The third was when he was doing the musical score for the film Vishwa Thulasi, which was produced by my friend “Ramki” Ramakrishnan. And the fourth was when he performed at the 13th Anniversary celebrations of Jaya TV in 2012 before a packed Nehru Stadium audience which included Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, K Balachander, Illaya Raja, Rajnikanth, Kamal Hasan and the who-is-who
of tinsel town and state politics.

Each of these projects gave me plenty of opportunities and time to interact with the legend freely and at length. He was a storehouse of information. About each song he had composed, he had a story to tell. And these stories invariably involved people who have been the pillars of Tamil cinema or leading lights of Tamilnadu politics. For, in this state, both are inseparably intertwined. But despite his close links with the likes of MGR, Karunanidhi, Jayalalithaa (all Chief Ministers of Tamilnadu) and N T Rama Rao (once Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh), MSV himself remained untouched by politics.

In this blog I shall recount some of the interesting anecdotes relating to MSV. Some may have already appeared in other media. Some may be untold. But I’m sure his countless die-hard fans would love them.


Composer C R Subburaman, for whom MSV was working, died in 1952. And MSV took upon himself, along with the lead violinist in the troupe, T K Ramamurthy, the responsibility of completing his “guru’s” projects. These included Devadas, Chandirani and Marumagal. One person who used to visit the recording studios in those days was a film producer from Kerala, E P Eppachan, who took a liking to Viswanathan’s music. He was so impressed that he booked MSV to compose for his next film, Genova, featuring M G Ramachandran and the heart-throb of the times, B S Saroja. MGR had not yet become a legend. But he was emerging as a hero with a mass following. He was not happy about a newcomer composing music for his film. But Eppachan stood his ground.

MSV with MGR
For days the face-off continued, with Eppachan declaring that it was either film with Viswanathan as composer or no film at all. MGR finally relented. The first song was recorded and MGR visited the recording studio to listen to it. At the end of it, he came running up to Viswanathan and hugged him. “It’s fantastic”, he said in Malayalam. “From today, you will compose the music for all my films”. The legend called MSV was born.



The 1960s saw MSV at his peak. He used to work 18 hours a day, sometimes on 2 or 3 films simultaneously. He used to compose a song for MGR in the morning, one for Sivaji Ganesan in the afternoon and a third one for Gemini Ganesan in the evening...

Many in the industry, who knew him, called him a “Juke Box”. Just give him the lyrics and he would put them to tune... In 1964, he was composing music for a film from Poompuhar Productions, a company owned by DMK leader M Karunanidhi. Every few hours, Karunanidhi's nephew Amirtham would come on his cycle with a sheet of paper on which some lyrics would be penned. “This one is by Kannadasan”, he would say. “Or this is by Vaali. Thalaivar (Karunanidhi) wants you to compose it into a good song...” And MSV would do just that. One afternoon, Amirtham came with his usual sheet of lyrics and asked MSV to make it into a song. MSV looked at the poem. “Who has written this?” he asked. “This is just not poetry. The lyrics are so bad, they just do not fit into any meter. I cannot compose music for this.”

Five years passed. The DMK, which had managed to capture power in th state was going through a crisis. Its founder, C N Annadurai, had died of cancer and the party was going through an internal struggle for power. The charismatic MGR, who was the vote-catcher of the party with a larger-than-life image, threw his weight behind Karunandhi and this enabled Karunanidhi to become Chief Minister without precipitating a split in the party. To celebrate the occasion of the swearing-in ceremony, MSV and his orchestra was roped in to enthrall the crowds at the Kalaivanar Arangam. When the rehearsals for the programme were going on, Amitham landed up at the venue with a sheet of paper in his hand. “These lyrics are penned by Thalaivar and he wants you to put them to tune and exclusively play the song at this evening's function”, he said. MSV looked at the sheet of paper. It was the same lyrics he had rejected five years earlier...

To say he would not put it to tune would lead to a direct confrontation with the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu and MSV was the last person to relish such an embarrassment. So he went ahead with cmposing music for the lyrics.

Evening came and before a packed auditorium, the musical performance was presented. Amongst the songs was the one penned by Karunanidhi.

Karunanidhi honours MSV
After an hour of exhilarating music, the serious agenda of the evening started – the speeches. When Karunanidhi started his speech, he waxed eloquent about MSV and his talents. He said : “This man is simply wonderful. Over the years his talent has only improved. Five years ago, he used to reject lyrics saying they were just not poetry. Today his talent is such that even things he has once rejected, he is able to put them to tune”. It was a typical left-handed complement, which left MSV red faced.

The last speech of the day was by MGR, who knew the background of the spat between Karunanidhi and MSV. He too started off by complementing MSV for the wonderful music he was composing. “I agree with my good friend Kalaignar about Mellisai Mannar's talents”, he said. “In fact, his skills have reached such a peak that if you give him today's copy of Dina Thanthi newspaper, he'll set the news report to tune and sing it on stage!!”

With this one line, he not only praised MSV to the skies, but also indirectly told Karunanidhi that he considered the lyrics penned by him as being equal to the news scripted by a cub reporter in the Dina Thanthi.


Time was when MSV was at his peak. And he was working two shifts a day often working simultaneously for rivals like MGR, Karunanidhi and Sivaji Ganesan – persons who could not see eye-to-eye on anything. He had been commissioned to organise a musical event. And in characteristic style, he went about inviting all the celebrities he had worked with. Being MSV, all agreed to come, not realising that the others had been invited as well.

MSV wanted the event to be compeered in a humorous fashion and he sought the help of another good friend, satirist, actor, journalist and political commentator, Cho S Ramaswamy. Cho readily agreed. He sat with MSV to jot down details about the programme – the cause, the songs, the singers and finally the celebrity attendees so that he could make appropriate references and satirical comments.

“MGR has agreed to come”, informed MSV.

“Good”, responded Cho. “

“And then of course Sivaji Ganesan and Karunanidhi will be coming too”, said MSV.

Cho’s eyes widened. “You mean to say you have invited all three of them to the same function?”, he asked.

“Yes”, came the innocent reply.

“And you have the temerity to get me to be the Master of Ceremonies at an event to which these three people, whom I keep lampooning in the media every day, are coming?” Cho asked.

“Have I done anything wrong?” asked MSV. “They are all my friends and I called them...”

Cho could not help laughing at MSV’s total lack of knowledge outside his world of music. Such child-like innocence had to be preserved, he decided. And he was not going to spoil the day for MSV. He contacted the three rivals and fixed their timings in such a way that none overlapped at the venue. And Cho himself conducted the show with minimal personalised satire to ensure that the purity of the event was not vitiated.

Years later, MGR broke away from the DMK and launched his own AIADMK. His lieutenant, R M Veerappan had been assigned the task of listing out various celebrities from the world of cinema who could be roped in to become member of the nascent political outfit. And in the second place in the list was the name of M S Viswanathan.

RMV showed the list to MGR, who took out his pen and without a second thought struck out MSV from the list. “Melissai Mannar is common property”, he explained. “He has been created for music. He should be above politics. Let him do his job without restrictions. Avar oru arasiyal gnanasoonyam (he is a political ignoramus)”.


It was the year 1963. MSV was earlly at the recording studios, waiting for lyricist Kannadasan to come. The two were to get the songs for Sridhar's film Kathalikka Neramillai. The song that was to be composed that day was for a youth in love with a girl, trying to gain employment in the estate owned by her father. Kannadasan, famed for his late nights, was a perpetual late comer. And while they were waiting for him, MSV regaled the rest of the orchestra with various compositions that came to his mind. He recollected his visit to the United States a couple of years earlier. Dwight Eisenhover was then the American President and the Yankees had composed a song for him. “Eisen-hover... Boogie woogie...”, went the song and MSV, who had heard this during his visit was playing the tune on his harmonium when Kannadasan entered. “Hey, that's a nice tune”, he said. “Lets do song in that tune.” Within minutes, the song was ready -- “Viswa-nathan... Velai Vendum...”, it went. Sridhar loved the song when it was played to him. And the name of the estate owner in the film was changed to Viswanathan to suit the lyrics of the song!



Poet Kannadasan had a fondness for late nights. This also made him a late riser. As a result, MSV was usually well into creating tunes before Kannadasan reached the studios and penned lyrics for the metre. On one rare occasion, Kannadasn reached the studios early. And MSV, who had been working late the previous day, reached late. Kannadasan was annoyed. “I've been waiting for so long”, he grumbled. “Where have you been?”

“Anna, mannichidunga. Naan thoongi vitten”, (Brother, forgive me. I was sleeping), MSV said sheepishly. Kannadasan frowned. Then he grunted. “Okay, today I'll write the lyrics first. Then you compose the music for it”, he said. “That will be your punishment for coming late..” The song that was penned : “Avanukkenna? Thoongi vittan. Agapattavan naanallavo...” (What does he care? He just sleeps. The one who has to suffer is me) went on to become a runaway hit.



MSV's relationship with Kannadasan was an interesting one. They were the best of friends. They would laugh. They would joke. They would argue. They would fight. And they would often settle scores through music. They would challenge each other to test the other's limits. And in the process constantly churned out good music for their fans to lap up.

One day, Kannadasan, late as usual, reached the studios in a nasty mood. “Come on, is the tune ready” he asked. And MSV crooned : “La... la la.... la la... la laa...”

“What the hell is all this la la stuff?” asked Kannadasan. “You think only you can do it? I can do it too”, he yelled in mock anger. The song that resulted was the all time hit : “Vaan... Nila... Nila... alla..” The song was literally packed with “la la”s in every line.


Many in the industry, who knew them intimately, likened the relationship between MSV and Kannadasan as a sort of a musical love affair.

Director extraordinary, K Balachander, the man who introduced the likes of Rajnikant and Kamal Hasan interestingly portrayed this relationship in a song sequence in his film Varumayin Niram Sigappu, featuring Kamal Hasan and Sridevi.



In a state where stage performances were restricted to Carnatic Cutcheris rendered by vidwans, MSV was amongst the first to introduce popular film music by orchestras at public events. Very soon, birthdays, political meetings, wedding receptions all had an orchestra playing film songs. But ome instrumentalists had a grievance. “When we are called to perform at weddings, there is no song to sing that goes with the occasion”, they said. “Similarly, there is no song that we can sing as a thanksgiving to the audience at a performance.”

Within a week, the MSV-Kannadasan duo had ensured that both these grievances were addressed. The song “Vaarayo Thozhi Vaarayo” describes the entire process of a Tamil wedding.


And the song “Vanakkam... palamurai sonnen” was the thanksgiving the orchestra folk had asked for.


Once, when returning from a holiday at a hill resort, MSV saw a crowd gathered outside a house in a village. A loudspeaker was blaring out songs – his songs. But what was unusual was that the songs were not the usual rolicking numbers that are played at various functions. They were the melancholy, philosophical genre. His curiosity aroused, MSV stopped his car to find out what was happening. A sad faced man in his forties came out. “My mother died this morning’, he said. “She was a great fan of yours. When she fell sick she called me and told me that death was knocking at her door. She said that when she was gone, none of us were to cry or weep. Instead, she said, play the melancholy songs of MSV. That will take my soul to heaven, she said. So that’s why we are playing these songs. The funeral is this evening”.


Three weeks back, the scene was virtually re-enacted. Only this time it was the legendary Thirai isai Chakravarthy himself who had died. The entire film fraternity paid homage to him. And the Cine Musicians Guild of which he was the founder, did it in the most befitting manner -- by playing his own music. May the legend rest in peace.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2015 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Who is te author of this write up?
P Rengaswami (9381409380)
MSV, Un isai kettaal puvi asainthaadum, idhu iraivan arul aagum.
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VaidyMSV & Sriram Lax

Joined: 15 Apr 2007
Posts: 852
Location: chennai

PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2015 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sorry parthavi

it is mr KP Sunil who was vice president in JAYA TV when the facilitation progamme happened .

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