When Triplicane rocked

The MSV-TKR orchestra with P. Suseela singing. PHOTO courtesy: The Triplicane Cultural Cultural Academy.

The MSV-TKR orchestra with P. Suseela singing. PHOTO courtesy: The Triplicane Cultural Cultural Academy.  

“To compose a song, all one needs to do is to create a tune that nobody else has thought of,” M.S. Viswanathan told a huge gathering in Triplicane on June 19, 1963. Easier said than done!

It was on that day, the duo MSV-TKR was conferred the title ‘Mellisai Mannargal,’ which would become a permanent prefix. How the event itself came about would be of interest to the duo’s fans.

Director and humourist, ‘Chithralaya’ Gopu, MSV’s close friend, who was instrumental in organising the event on behalf of the Triplicane Cultural Academy, rewinds as T.A. Narasimhan listens…

“Chithralaya’s ‘Nenjil Or Aalayam’ was a hit and director Sridhar and myself were working on the ‘Kadhalikka Naeramillai’ script, when the office-bearers of Triplicane Cultural Academy approached me and expressed their wish to honour MSV-TKR. Also they wanted Viswanathan to perform to raise funds for the Kasturi Srinivasan Library, run by the Academy.

“When I passed on the request to Visu, he readily agreed but there were conditions. He wanted me to bring top stars for the programme. The fund-raiser eventually turned out to be a starry show but not before giving some anxious moments to the organisers.

“The event was planned on June 9, 1963, and all the top stars of the day - Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganesan, Savithri, Kannadasan, director Sridhar, Sandhya and Bhim Singh - had confirmed their participation. The Academy office-bearers were thrilled and huge banners were erected publicising the event all over the city.

“The function was planned at the NKT Kala Mandapam, an open-air hall in Triplicane and tickets were sold out. MSV had told me that Suseela, Soundararajan, PBS, L.R. Easwari and Chandrababu would perform. Chandrababu was a big craze then and owing to the announcement, there was a mad rush for tickets.

“Meanwhile, the Academy had requested Kannadasan to prepare a Venba (poem) in praise of the pair. Kannadasan had suggested that they honour the duo with the title ‘Mellisai Mannargal.’

“Even as preparations were in full swing, the programme suffered a jolt. Visu called to say that Suseela had an important work in Madurai. He suggested that the event be put off by a week. The date he suggested was June 16. But the venue had already been booked by K. Balanchander for his ‘Major Chandrakanth.’ I spoke to Ramani of Ragini Creations and Balachander obliged by putting off his play and the hall was free on June 19. Fresh publicity was given to the event by the Academy.”

The office-bearers of Triplicane Cultural Academy, Parthasarathy and Narasimhan, pick up the thread.

“On June 19, massive crowds thronged the Ice House Road making it difficult even for the stars to enter the venue. The programme started with MSV’s performance and the entire Triplicane rocked with him. The event was first of its kind in this conservative locality and every resident had come to hear MSV’s music live.

MSV himself sang some songs and Suseela and Easwari added colour to the event. Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini, Savithri, Sridhar, Gopu and Kannadasan were all seated on the dais. When it was time for MSV to be honoured, Chandrababu pleaded with Sivaji that he would sing one more song, and Sivaji nodded his head.

“Finally, Sivaji Ganesan conferred the title on MSV and TKR, and Kannadaasan read out a poem in praise of them. The Hindu itself had played a huge role in supporting the event and they had provided vehicles to convey stars to the venue.”

The Academy has preserved the souvenir in which pictures of the event were published. Naturally!

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 3:51:30 PM |

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