Thamizhukkum amuthendru paer, andha Thamizh inba Thamizh engal uyirukku naer, uyirukku naer ! This melodious number came wafting in the air from the grandfather radio playing ‘ Ungal Viruppam’ during family time at home.
As a child I would hear this song so often that I began following the lyrics as well, which inculcated in me a deep love for the Tamizh language while I lived in Bangalore then — thank you MSV Sir for inspiring me to love Tamizh.
While Mellisai Mannars M.S. Viswanathan and T.K. Ramamurthy conquered the turf from the early ‘50s to mid ‘60’s giving us some unforgettable lyric-laden numbers, post Aayirathil Oruvan MSV Sir was on a roll on his own from 1965. Ulagam Sutrum Valiban was a sell out…how many times have I smiled listening to Aval oru navarasa naadagam ’ that was an anthem to all budding love birds. Love, humour, agony, despair, anger, joy, peace…virtually the nava rasas came to the fore in each of his compositions. There was a song for every situation in everyday life for every person.
Having learnt classical music for about less than a decade in his initial years, it is obvious that MSV Sir has been graced by the Almighty, when one listens to his Carnatic-based numbers. His raga-based tunes intertwined with rich layam had great intensity of emotions — Manamey Muruganin mayil vahanam, Ezhu swarangalukkul were master strokes. The onset of younger music directors and newer genres did not for a moment faze this genius. He went on in his glorious journey and continued to excel in traditional, contemporary and westernised presentations.To be in tune with the changing times, Ninaithale Inikkum just rocked the scene with MSV Sir bringing out his innovative streaks.
Versatility was his forte, no doubt — he could adapt a song to any situation and what came out was a tune that played on all our lips, enlightening us, educating us, teasing us, cajoling us and overall, delighting us! His mastery in giving rich melodies with apt usage of instruments by a grandiose orchestra, all meshed into a beautiful repository of outstanding music. While he regaled us with his music, his acting abilities cannot go unnoticed. His role in Kaadhala Kaadhala and his utterance of Muruga .. had us all in splits. As a singer he has given memorable and thought provoking numbers - Kandadhai sollugiren in Sila nerangalil sila manidhargal and the chartbuster Shambo Siva shambo from Ninaithale Inikkum …a versatile genius indeed!
His passing away is the end of a golden era of beautiful and versatile music that has catered to all generations. He waved his magic wand on the golden lyrics of Kannadasan and Vaali and the tunes set by him have become referral points that bail one out of so many of life’s challenging situations.
Somehow, by a quirk of fate, I have not had an opportunity to sing under his music direction and revel in his mastery — a huge loss indeed. A pang also remains — that this doyen could have been recognised nationally.
Rest in peace, dear MSV Sir — you continue to live in our hearts and enrich our lives every day, having touched so many of us through your immortal creations.
(The writer is a Carnatic vocalist and Sangita Kalanidhi awardee)