M.S. Viswanathan | (

Forever a part of the Tamil psyche, MSV composed music for over 1,700 films and has worked with four CMs — NTR, MGR, M. Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa.

M.S. Viswanathan, whose film compositions transcended every known category of music and refused to be pinned down to musical traditions, passed away here on Tuesday. He was 88 and is survived by four sons and three daughters. Both Ilayaraja and A.R. Rahman have worked with MSV.

It is not just for many of his evergreen songs, but also for the State song of the Government of Tamil Nadu — Neerarum Kadalodutha — MSV will ever be part of the Tamil psyche. In the Tamil film music world, no other composer was as diverse as MSV was and he had composed music for over 1,700 films in Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada.He had worked with four Chief Ministers — N.T. Rama Rao, M.G. Ramachandran, M. Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa.

His first film was Jenova and the hero was M.G. Ramachandaran. MGR had reservations about using MSV in the film. But the producers told MGR that they would not change the music director and if he was not interested in acting the film he was free to quit the project.

Born Maniyanga Subramanian Viswanathan in Elapulli in Palghat district, MSV’s life exemplifies the dictum that the birth of a genius is an accident. He entered the film world as a child artist. He has no family history of music, except that he had the privilege of sitting on the belly of his father Subrmanian and listening to him singing. The passion stayed.

After the death of his father, who was working as a jailor, and his sister, his mother, driven by poverty and the name earned by MSV as a cursed child, decided to commit suicide along with him by jumping into a tank. “I wanted my mother to jump into the water first. When she demanded the reason, I told her what if she changed her mind after I was drowned. By that time, my grandfather arrived and we were saved,” MSV had recorded in his biography penned by Ranimainthan.