MSV and he came together in 1952; split up in 1965; scored music for 86 films
T.K. Ramamurthy, the older of the music director duo Viswanathan-Ramamurthi who revolutionised orchestration in Tamil film music and became known as ‘Mellisai Mannargal’, died here on Wednesday.
He was 92 and is survived by wife, seven daughters and four sons.
Ramamurthy was senior to MSV. In the beginning of their career, the duo was called Ramamurthy-Viswanathan and it was the comedian N.S. Krishnan who changed the order while introducing them in his film Panam. N.S. Krishnan had told MSV that as a senior Ramamurthy would always sustain him.
“They came together in 1952 and split up in 1965. They scored music for 86 films. While MSV continued to dominate the film world, Ramamurthy could not replicate the success of his former partner,” said Vamanan, Tamil film music historian and author of the book Thirai Isai Alaigal.
Born in a family of musicians, Ramamurthy was trained in classical music and gained great mastery over the violin even before he was 12. His father Krishnasamy Pillai and grand father Govindasamy Pillai were violinists and his father worked for HMV recording company.
In the book Thirai Isai Alaigal, playback singer T.M. Soundarajan was full of praise for Ramamurthy.
“He could play the 72 melakarta ragas and was an expert in setting appropriate tunes. MSV also gave him adequate space for his creativity,” TMS had said.
Both Ramamurthy and MSV were assistants of C.R. Subbaraman, the music director of HMV. Subbaraman died at the age of 28 and it was left to his assistants to complete music for the films he had agreed to score.
Ranimynthan, the biographer of MSV, said though Ramamurthy just wanted to continue as a violinist in MSV’s troupe, Mr Viswanathan had made it clear that they would together score music for film.
“The title ‘mellisai mannargal’ was conferred on them by thespian Sivaji Ganesan at a function organised by Triplicane Cultural Academy to mobilise funds for the Kasturi Srinivasan Library,” said Ranimynthan.
Mr Vamanan pointed out that the two began their journey at a time when Tamil film music was dominated by G. Ramanathan, K.V. Mahadevan, Subbaiah Naidu, T.G. Lingappa and T.R. Papa.
“They infused the Tamil film music with a whiff of fresh orchestration that immediately caught the attention of the people,” he said.
It was the duo that first set to music the songs of late Pattukottai Kalyanasundaram and their career graph touched new heights when Kannadasan joined hands with them. Yengal Dravida Ponnadey and Senthamizh Theynmozhial loudly announced their arrival in the world of film music.
Difference of opinion led to their separation in 1965 and the last film they scored music together was Aayirathil Oruvan, starring MG Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa. All the songs in the film were hits.
T.K. Ramamurthy worked for films such as Thaen Mazhai, Marakka Mudiyuma, Sadhu Mirandal, Madras to Pondicherry, Yengalukkum Kaalamvarum, Soapu Cheepu Kannadi, Avalukku Aayiram Kankal and Ival Oru Pournami.
The song Kaakitha Odam Kadal Alai Meethu, penned by DMK leader M. Karunanidhi, became a hit in the music of Ramamurthy.
Three decades after their split, the duo came together in 1995 and scored music for the film Yenkiruntho Vanthan. The film was a flop, while the songs made an impact.
In her condolence message, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said it was an unforgettable experience that she had acted in the film Naan and danced for the song Ammano Samiyo composed by Ramamurthy.
She also said Ramamurthy’s contribution to the song Yengay Nimmathi and his solo violin for the song kan pona pokkiley were invaluable. DMK leader M. Karunanidhi also condoled his death.