Lyricist, actor and author Vaali, who secured a place on a par with Kannadasan at a time the latter strode like a colossus in the Tamil film music world, died here on Thursday evening.
He was 82 and is survived by his son.
He was not keeping well for quite some time and was in and out of hospital over the past one month. The end came as one of his friends recited a few pasurams – Ondrum Marantharieyen and Oorilen Kaaniyillai and Kulam Tharum from the Nalayira Divyaprabandam, a set of hymns sung by Vaishnavite minstrels.
Vaali, who had a five-decade-long association with the Tamil film industry wrote over 15,000 songs, including 5,000 songs for music maestro Ilayaraja, for many a protagonist played by actors from M G Ramachandran to Dhanush.
On the one hand, he wrote songs like Madhavi Ponmayilal, Ammavendrazhaikatha uyirillaye, Naanaga naan illai and Janani janani that transported the listener to a different plane, and on the other, he entertained the masses with low-brow songs such as chikkupukku chikkupukku railay, mukkala muqabla and singari sarakku nalla sarakku .
Overwhelmed by his the brilliant imagery of the lines in the song Pakkathu Veetu Paruva Matchan in the film Karpagam , Kannadasan declared in a public meeting that Vaali would be his heir-apparent.
Though he had written songs for MGR, Sivaji Ganesan and many present day heroes, his association with MGR songs is famous. The political image that MGR built for himself through his film songs stood him in good stead later on when he embarked on a highly successful political career, with Vaali’s lines embodying his ideas.