With every passing year the writer-lyricist-poet nonpareil reiterates the fact that Death can never lay its icy hands on him. It’s been decades since Kannadasan passed away but the confidence with which he wrote that he’s eternal (‘Endha Nilayilum Enakku Maranamillai’) has proved true, because every event organised in his honour continues to draw crowds.

A group of ardent Kannadasan lovers in Malaysia has been celebrating the poet and singing paeans in his name regularly. Recently, the team headed by C. Pandithurai came down all the way to Chennai, to hold a function for him here and fete veterans of cinema. And can any forum that celebrates Kannadasan be complete without M. S. Viswanathan? The ‘mellisai mannar’ was very much present as the chief guest of the evening at the Kamaraj Arangam, Chennai.

Appropriately titled Kaviarasu Kannadasan Ilakkiya Kalai Vizha, the programme highlighted the lyrical prowess and craftsmanship of the poet -- film melodies were the prime focus. It wasn’t a houseful show but those present enjoyed every moment of it. Pandithurai dwelt on the different ways Kannadasan depicted emotions of love, joy, sadness and kindness -- the emceeing, which was more on the lines of a dissertation, showed his deep interest in the lyricist’s uniqueness of thought and excellent choice of words. In his enthusiasm to have the entire audience soaked in the beauty of the lyrics and the tunes they were set to, distractions from the audience’s side irked him. He couldn’t help harping on impeccable crowd behaviour and stage decorum he is used to, back home in Malaysia.

Everlasting compositions of the MSV-Kannadasan combo and also songs that the great lyricist created with other music directors were showcased appealingly. And conducting the orchestra was T. L. Thyagarajan (son of Tiruchi Loganathan). Well-known light music singers of the stage including Ananthu, Kovai Murali and Jayashri presented many a Kannadasan gem.

“Those who haven’t read Kannadasan’s literary treatise, ‘Arthamulla Indhu Madham,’ kindly make a beeline for it,” exhorted actor Sivakumar in characteristic style and fluently quoted offhand a few salient lines from the book. With Pandithurai vociferously announcing that in their country “five minutes means only five minutes,” the speakers had little choice but to wind up in a jiffy. Brevity was the watchword that day and every special invitee restricted his speech to a few minutes.

The Malaysia Tamils honoured yesteryear actor M.N.Rajam and her husband and playback singer A.L. Raghavan with Awards for Lifetime Achievement. Among the other eminent personalities who adorned the stage were T. M. Soundararajan, P. B. Srinivas, L. R. Easwari, S. P. Muthuraman, Vani Jairam, Kavignar Kamakotiyaan (who welcomed the gathering) and Malaysia Vasudevan.

Praising Pandithurai for organising such functions for the poet, eminent singer Vani Jairam touched a sentimental chord as she recalled her association with Kannadasan and the affection he had for her. And in typical style, Vani mesmerised the audience with her ever-popular hits.

“Sirkazhi Govindarajan still lives in Malaysia in the voice of our very own Raja Raja Chozhan,” announced Pandithurai with pride. And true to his words, when the Malaysian singer replicated the voice of the singer in ‘Aandukku Aandu … Suba Dinam,’ the audience was awe-struck. Sharmila Ashok, another singer from Malaysia did a fine job too. When she presented Vani’s award winning number ‘Ezhu Swarangalukkul …’ the veteran went up the stage and congratulated her.

The evening proved that good work can never fade into oblivion. Nor can creators such as Kannadasan!