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‘Devadas’ Music composer M.S. Viswanathan Passed Away


Known to the Telugu filmfield for composing music to one of the early hits, ‘Devadas’ starred by Akkineni Nageswara Rao, veteran music composer M.S. Viswanathan died Tuesday in Chennai, after a week in the ICU of Fortis Malar Hospital for a week with age-related ailments.

Viswanathan, 87, is survived by four sons and three daughters, is more familiar for his tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam songs. Some of his major films included M.G. Ramachandran, M. Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa.

Born in abject poverty, he struggled to became a student of Neelakanta Bhagavathar and entered the film field with the Jupiter Studios in Tirupur as an office boy to clean the harmonium of the studio music director S.M. Subbiah Naidu.

Later he joined C.V. Subbaraman, another music director. He composed music for Telugu hit ‘Devadas’ when Subbaraman died. Both Ilayaraja and A.R. Rahman have been in his team during the later years.

Known as MSV in the southern filmdom, MS Viswanathan, entered the Tamil film field in 1952 with the film ‘Panam’ starring Sivaji Ganeshan. With his fellow composer TK Ramamoorthy, he composed music for 86 Tamil films for over a decade. He is known as Mellisai Mannar in Tamil for “The King of Light Music”.

He was conferred the Thirai Isai Chakravarthy (The Emperor of Cine Music) title on him in August 2012 by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa along with 60 gold coins and a new car. Born on June 24, 1928 in Elappully village in Palakkad, Kerala, he lost his father when he was four. He was saved by his grandfather when he and his mother tried to commit suicide together to escape from the poverty.

He even sold refreshments in a movie theatre to just to listen to songs and learned music from Neelakanda Bhagavathar in the 1930s when he was just not even in his teens.

When C. R. Subburaman died unexpectedly in 1952, Viswanathan and Ramamoorthy together completed the background music for the films Subburaman was working on, including ‘Devadas’ (both Tamil and Telugu versions).

MSV’s funeral will take place at his residence on Santhome High Road in Chennai o Wednesday.  

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