The Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium wore a festive look when Jaya TV’s 14th year was ushered in, and honour showered on M.S. Viswanathan and T.K. Ramamurthy.

It was nostalgia unplugged for many of the yesteryear actors and musicians in the audience at the celebration to mark the beginning of the 14th year of Jaya TV. The occasion also saw the Kings of Melody -- Viswanathan and Ramamurthy – honoured for their yeoman service to Tamil cinema. The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Ms. J. Jayalalithaa, presented the awards and mementoes and delivered the special address. Incidentally, it was the first Jaya TV event that the Chief Minister was attending.

The speeches of the invitees on the dais, were not just succinct, they were sincere, sans the sycophancy attached to such events. If the CM was praised for her thoughtfulness in honouring almost all the stalwarts of film music of the past, it was well-deserved. And if encomiums were heaped on MSV and TKR, again it was because the ‘Mellisai Mannargal’ are wholly worthy of them.

The CM’s choice

Imagine, the Chief Minister herself setting aside time to select and list out around 57 songs from the priceless repertoire of the composer duo, to be sung at the show titled ‘Ninaithaalae Inikkum’! “Such is my love for their timeless music,” said Ms. Jayalalithaa, and exemplified the case of children who take part in reality music shows on satellite channels today, singing the songs of the composers. “The reach of their strains remains unsurpassed,” she said.

The CM presented a purse containing 60 gold coins to the two composers, to commemorate their six decades in cinema, and a Ford Fiesta car. What touched an emotional chord in the crowd and in the galaxy on stage – AVM Saravanan, Rajnikanth, Kamal Haasan, K. Balachander and Ilaiyaraja -- was that almost all the singers of the past were called up on stage and presented medals.

Accepting the honour with humility were the monarchs of music, MSV and TKR. The songs of the evening, presented by Mellisai Mannar’s 100-piece orchestra, began with fervour, as MSV himself, sang one of his religious masterpieces, ‘Pullaankuzal Kodutha Moongilgalae,’ originally rendered by T.M. Soundararajan. Kovai Murali and Ananthu joined him unobtrusively, thus making the effort easy for MSV. But it was rather surprising when singer Kalpana didn’t help out P. Suseela, who obviously found it difficult to steer her course through ‘Maalai Pozhudhin Mayakkathilae,’ an Ilaiyaraja favourite and an all-time hit from the MSV-TKR combo.

Plaudits to the orchestra that included instruments such as the dilruba, sarangi and shehnai! The rehearsals must have been rigorous and meticulous – their overall performance proved it amply. Chinmayi and Vijay Adhiraj, the anchors seemed to begin with trepidation but generally did a neat job.

Adept in the art of the intricacies of music, Vani Jairam sailed through, ‘Aezhu Swarangalukkul …’ the award-winning song from K. Balachander’s ‘Apoorva Raagangal,’ with relative flair, as KB listened intently. Very much like ‘Malai Pozhudhin,’ it isn’t just the tunesmith or the singer, but also the simple yet poignant lyric of Kannadasan hold you in thrall to this day. It was interesting to watch P.B. Srinivos snapping his fingers with gusto for his hit, ‘Nilavakku En Mael.’ For Krishnaraj, singing the same was a breeze.

As the CM pointed out, MSV is the only composer who has given his voice for more than 500 numbers, not just for his compositions but for that of others too. “He can create music with 300 instruments or restrict his canvas to just three. And he is himself proficient on the harmonium, piano and keyboard, while Ramamurthy’s skill on the violin is equally commendable,” she smiled. “Humming, harmony, whistling – MSV could blend them beautifully in his music.” And as if to showcase this aspect of MSV’s talent, Y.Gee. Mahendra went on a scintillating whistling spree for the cheer-infusing number from ‘Kaadhalikka Naeramillai’ – ‘Nenjathai Alli Konjam Thaa’ – sung by Unni Menon, Kalpana and Deepashika.

“At present I’m pleased to honour these two veterans with the title, ‘Thirai Isai Chakravarthy.’ But I assure you there will come a day when I will be in a position to ensure that the Padma awards, which have been eluding these greats, are theirs.” The conviction in her tone left fans of the Mellisai Mannargal thrilled.