Manayangath Subramanian Viswanathan, the Mellisai Mannar breathed his last on 14 July 2015. He was 87. The king of music churned out many hits in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi for over 1200 movies in a career that spanned six decades.
MSV’s childhood was humble: he sold refreshments in a movie theatre. The world almost lost this legend when he was four. Driven by poverty, his mother attempted to kill herself and MSV, but his grandfather saved them at the nick of time. He was introduced to music at 5 and gave his first stage performance when he was 13. He was inspired by Neelakantha Bhagavathar, a music teacher and spent hours standing in front of his house listening to him singing.
He met T K Ramamoorthy and T G Lingappa when he joined C R Subbaraman’s troupe as a harmonium player. He started composing music with them in 1952 and later started on his own in 1965. V-R’s Jugalbandi hits include music in the movies Paasamalar, Server Sundaram, Aayirathil Oruvan and Enga Veetu Pillai.
MSV worked closely with the great lyricist Kannadasan. His music had diversity – semi-classical, disco, devotional, non-film albums and music for political campaigns as well as music that the young generation demanded. He sang over 500 songs that he composed as well as songs of other music directors. He was an inspiration for all these music directors and was known to appreciate good music and his fellow composers in the industry.
He received the title Thirai Isai Chakravarthi (Emperor of Film Music) in 2012. He was also recommended for the Padma Bhushan by the Tamil Nadu government, but unfortunately it was not considered.
His wife Janaki passed away in 2012 and seven children survive him. He will always remain alive through his anthem composition Neerarum Kadaludutha sung by children everyday in schools across Tamil Nadu. The King of Light Music has only physically left this world but his soul will always remain alive through his evergreen music. – Anuradha Ramani