CHENNAI: For a lot of us, getting to see M S Viswanathan was like seeing MGR or Sivaji. Growing up, we would keep off classes to go to watch their movies and afterwards, struggle to listen to the music outside the cinema halls. But for me, it was the music that made the film and that is why I would play truant to simply listen to music. In a lot of ways, I think that was my schooling.
The progress he achieved, from the time he was born in a small village in Kerala, to his picking up that melodious harmonium and mastering it, is something that no one has achieved till this day.
He was a great composer known for most of the memorable songs composed for MGR and Sivaji, by the time I first saw him. Of course, I had seen him many a times and waved at his car when he drove in and out of the studios, but I wondered if he ever saw me. When I was being felicitated at the Tiruverkadu Temple in 1985 for the work I had done composing 100 devotional albums, MSV Annan was the chief guest. When he stepped up to speak, his words shaped my life from that moment on. He said, “Don’t give Deva an award, Give him a film opportunity. He will change this industry.” Later, it was he who gave me the title ‘Thennisai Thendral’.
Six months later, I got a film and the first thing I did was to go to him and ask for advice. Though I was a newcomer, he did not see me as a threat — in fact, he never saw anybody as one, and only encouraged people to do better.
He was a music library and the road on which we are moving ahead. Whenever we are faced with a difficult situation in life or while composing, we ask ourselves ‘What would MSV do?’ and the
answer is always the right one. It will be another 2015 years before another MSV is born.
— Deva, Music Composer
As years went by, he was updated to watch all the films that got released and would call immediately to appreciate the work. I remember how he called after the song ‘Nalam Nalam Ariya Aaval’ and asked me to sing for him. That’s when I realised that in a lot of ways he was a child at heart. He never had any airs or false bravado about him, despite the mountains he had scaled.
He was a music library and the road on which we are moving ahead. Whenever we are faced with a difficult situation in life or while composing, we ask ourselves ‘What would MSV do?’ and the answer is always the right one. It will be another 2015 years before another MSV is born.
- Deva, Music Composer