M. S. Viswanathan

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This article is about the music composer. For other meanings, see Viswanathan.
M. S. Viswanathan
Background information
Birth name Manayangath Subramanian Viswanathan
Also known as M.S.V
Born (1928-06-24) 24 June 1928 (age 87)[1]
Origin Palakkad, Kerala, India

Film score composer

music director
Instruments Vocals (playback singing), keyboard/harmonium/piano
Years active 1945–present
Website http://www.msvtimes.com
Notable instruments

Manayangath Subramanian Viswanathan, also known as M.S.V., is a Kollywood music director and composer from South India. He is popularly known as Mellisai Mannar (Tamil for "The King of Light Music"). He has composed songs in Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu for over 1200 films[2] His major works over the past five decades have been in Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu films. He has also acted and sung in a few Tamil films. The Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J Jayalalithaa conferred the Thirai Isai Chakravarthy (Tamil for "The Emperor of Cine Music") title on him in August 2012[3] and presented him with 60 gold coins and a new car.[4][5] Viswanathan composed film music together with composer and violinist T. K. Ramamoorthy in the 1950s and early 1960s, as Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy[6] and since then he has worked independently as a composer.

Early life[edit]

Viswanathan was born on 24 June 1928 to Manayangath Subramanian and Narayanikutty (or Naanikutty) in Elappully village in Palakkad, Kerala, India. He lost his father when he was four. He was saved by his grandfather when his mother decided to kill him and herself as an escape from abject poverty and lack of support.[1] As a child, he sold refreshments in a movie theatre for a living, and he learned music from Neelakanda Bhagavathar in the period 1933–1939 resulting in his first stage performance in Trivandrum when he was only 13 years old.[7]


Viswanathan had always wanted to be an actor and singer, but was not successful. He had had a few small roles in stage dramas in the 1940s. The composer and violinist T. R. Papa met Viswanathan, took a liking to him and arranged a job for him as an errand boy for S. V. Venkatraman's musical troupe. In that company of musicians, Viswanathan realised that he had the inclination and the potential for composing music. He thereafter joined S. M. Subbaiah Naidu and at times assisted him. He then joined C. R. Subburaman's musical troupe as a harmonium player. Here, he met T. K. Ramamoorthy and T. G. Lingappa, the two leading violinists at that time. T. G. Lingappa also became a renowned music composer on his own in the 1950s.


In 1952, C. R. Subburaman died unexpectedly. Ramamoorthy and Viswanathan joined together and completed the background music for the films Subburaman was working on, including Devadas, Chandirani and Marumagal. N. S. Krishnan knew them both fairly intimately and also their respective talents by then because of his close relationship with C.R.Subburaman, with whom he had worked earlier in several films. Meanwhile Viswanathan also worked as the third composer for the film Genova where the other composers were M.S Gnanamani and T.K.Kalyanam.[8]

Viswanathan and Ramamoorthy were asked to write the music for Panam, a 1952 film produced by A. L. Seenivasan and directed by N. S. Krishnan. Later the duo was asked to do the background score for the film Ratha Kanneer by its music composer C. S. Jayaraman.

The duo composed for over 100 films from 1952-1965.[citation needed]

On 16 June 1963 at a special function M. S. Viswanathan and T. K. Ramamoorthy were each given the title of Mellisai Mannar(Kings of the Light Music).[9] It was granted by Sivaji Ganesan at the Madras Triplicane Cultural Academy. The function was supported and facilitated by the Hindu Group of Publications, especially Mr. T. M. Ramachandran, Director C. V. Sridhar and Chitralaya Gobu.

The duo parted in 1965 after release of Ayirathil Oruvan and since then they composed for films individually. After 29 years, they rejoined in 1995 for the Tamil film Engirundho Vanthan starring Sathyaraj.

They were awarded an honorary doctorate by the Sathyabama Deemed University in September 2006.[10]

J. Jayalalithaa, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, conferred the title Thirai Isai Chakravarthy (Emperors of the Cine Music) on Viswanathan and Ramamoorthy in August 2012[3] and presented them with 60 gold coins and a new car.[4][5]

Independent music director (1965–present)[edit]

M. S. Viswanathan is known for having incorporated various genres world music into Indian cinema music. He used elements such as humming and whistling in his songs, and blended new trends such as western music and disco with Indian classical tunes.

During the 1970s and 80s, Viswanathan worked with younger singers such as S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and Vani Jairam as well as established singers like P. Susheela, L. R. Eswari and T. M. Soundararajan. Viswanathan introduced the Malayalam singer Jayachandran to Tamil films in Manippayal (1973) with the song Thanga-chimizhpol, and wrote songs for him to sing in many more films in the 1970s. He started working with K. J. Yesudas in 1973, and Yesudas was his voice in many films including Nalai Namathe, Urmaikural, and Sirithu Vazha Vendum. Then Viswanathan used Yesudas as the voice for up-and-coming actors during the late 70s, like Sivakumar, Kamalahasan, and Vijaykumar. Other playback singers who worked with Viswanathan include R. Balasaraswathi in the early 1960s, S. Janaki, and A. L. Raghavan.

Viswanathan worked with many different film directors. In the 1950s he worked with S. S. Vasan, B. R. Panthalu, B.S.Ranga, Krishnan-Panju from the 1950s then A.Bhimsingh, Madhavan, C.V.Shridhar, T.R.Ramanna, A.C.Trilogchander, K.Shankar, K.Balachander, Mukta V Srinivasan, Chitralaya T.R.Gopu, Cho Ramasawamy, Malliyam Rajagopal, Madurai Thirumaran, K.S. Gopalakrishnan, Dada Mirasi from 1960s preferred to have Vishwanathan as music director in their films from the 1960s till early the 1990s. From the 1970s directors like S.P.Muthuraman, Major Sundarrajan, N.S.Manian, Bhagyaraj, R. Krishnamurthy, D.Yoganand, C.V. Rajendran, P.Madhavan, K.S. Prakash Rao, R.C.Shakti, I.V. Sasi, Vietnam Veetu Sundaram, M.S.Gopinath, Taraka Rama Rao Nandamuril, Amirtham frequently worked with Vishwanathan and later from the 1980s to the early 1990s new directors like Visu, S.A.Chandrashekar, Mouli, Major Sundarrajan, A.Jaganathan, Komal Swaminathan,Amirtham, R.C.Shakti collaborated with Viswanathan regularly. In the 1990s directors like Lakshmi, K.Raghunath collaborated with him.

Many of the Tamil movies were also dubbed into Hindi. He has done playback singing for 500 songs composed by himself and has sung over 200 songs of composed by music directors like V. Kumar, Sankar Ganesh, Ilaiyaraaja, Gangai Amaran, Deva, Bharathwaj, A. R. Rahman, Yuvan Shankar Raja. M.S.Viswanathan has also scored music for many non-film albums and for political campaigns. MSV is the inspiration for music directors Shankar Ganesh, Ilayaraaja, Deva, V. Kumar, A.R.Rahman, Vidyasagar, Gangai Amaran, Bharathwaj, Yuvan Shankar Raja and others. His achievements also include appearances in numerous films and television series.M. S. Vishwanathan went on to act in a couple of Tamil feature films notably appearing in Kaadhal Mannan after being convinced to do so by actor Vivek, while he also starred in Kamal Haasan's Kaathala Kaathala and Karthik's Rojavanam.

He mainly teamed up with the well-known Tamil poet and lyricist Kannadasan in the 1960s and 1970s and also with Vaali from late 1960's.

Since 1996 Viswanathan has focused on composing devotional music and serving as a judge in Malayalam TV reality shows. He collaborated with Illaiyaraja in 'Mella Thiranthathu Kathathavu', 'Senthamizh Paatu' 'Vishwa Thulsi' and 'Senthamizh Selvan' starring Prashanth. He sang the song "Vidai Kodu Engal Naadae" for 2002 Tamil film "Kannathil Muthamittal" composed by A.R.Rahman. Then in 2013 he sang for the film Neelam – the song called 'Alayae o Alayae' and it was recorded in the supervision of music composer Satish Chakravarthy.[11] He in 2013 composed music for the film Thillu Mullu, with Yuvan Shankar Raja[12] While M. S. Viswanathan composed the tunes in the 2013 Thillu Mullu film, Yuvan Shankar Raja orchestrated and recorded them.[13] Including this No. he has Sung a Song,‘Saami Namba saami' which is penned by Snehan for the film "Mannar Valaiguda",Composed by S.Siva Pragasam.[14][15]


Viswanathan was married to Janaki and they have four sons and three daughters. His wife, Janaki, died on 14 May 2012.

He is known to have looked after his original Guru, S.M.Subbaiah Naidu, when the latter fell into financial difficulties and then continued to look after his wife until her death.


M. S. Viswanathan has won many awards include the following:

  • Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award – South (2001)
  • PBS Puraskar Award presented by Aruna Nithya Gopal Foundation awarded on 29 September 2013 at Ravindra Bharati[16]
  • Honorary doctorate from Tirunelveli-based Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (MSU) on 3 January 2013[17]
  • Paramacharya Award, meaning 'The Ultimate Guru' in 2006.
  • Doctorate conferred by Sathyabama University in 2006.[18]
  • Madhavapeddi Satyam Award by Siva Foundation in 2005.
  • Won Gold Remi Award for the best music score for movie Vishwa Thulasi in 2005.
  • Life Time Achievement Award by Sangam Kala group in 2004.
  • Isai Sangam honoured him with Isai Peraringnar, meaning "Great Scholar in Music", in 2004.
  • Kalaimamani – A jewel for art – from State Govt of Tamil Nadu
  • Seventh Kamukura Award – given by Kerala Cultural Ministry.
  • WorldFest Houston (USA)
  • People and Media describe him as "University of Music".
  • Media gave him title "Mellisai Mannar" along with T.K. Rammoorthy, meaning "King of Light Music" or "King of melodies".
  • 'Sangeetha Saraswathi' by Poojya Sri Guruji Viswanath of Manava Seva Kendra.
  • 2013 - Asiavision Awards - Lifetime Achievement Award[19]



  1. ^ a b எதிர்நீச்சல் போட்டு முன்னேறிய மெல்லிசை மன்னர் எம்.எஸ்.விஸ்வநாதன், archived version retrieved 27 September 2014 (Tamil)
  2. ^ "CM honours Viswanathan-Ramamurthi". Nowrunning.com. 31 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Amma confers title of Thiraiyisai Chakravarthy on legendary MSV". ChennaiOnline. 30 August 2012. 
  4. ^ a b News, Express (30 August 2012). "CM confers Thirai Isai Chakravarthy on MSV". The New Indian Express. 
  5. ^ a b "After Padma snub, Jaya says one day Centre will listen". The Indian Express. 31 August 2012. 
  6. ^ Vamanan, Mellisai Mannargal Paattu Payanam 
  7. ^ 'ஜுபிடர்' பட நிறுவனத்தில் 'ஆபீஸ் பாய்' வேலை பார்த்த எம்.எஸ்.விஸ்வநாதன்!, archived version retrieved 27 September 2014 (Tamil)
  8. ^ 'ஜெனோவா' படத்திற்கு எம்.எஸ்.வி. இசை அமைப்பு: முதலில் எதிர்த்த எம்.ஜி.ஆர்., பிறகு பாராட்டினார், archived version retrieved 27 September 2014 (Tamil)
  9. ^ "Veteran Tamil film music composer T K Ramamurthy is no more". Indian Express. 2013-04-17. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  10. ^ "Tamil Nadu / Chennai News : Honorary doctorates for seven eminent personalities". The Hindu. 4 September 2006. Retrieved 6 March 2012. 
  11. ^ After 11 years veteran Vishwanathan croons for 'Neelam'. Realbollywood.com (8 February 2013).
  12. ^ "Thillu Mullu 2 with Yuvan & MSV's music". Indiaglitz. 20 August 2012. 
  13. ^ Nikhil Raghavan (1 June 2013). "Classic gets a new twist". The Hindu. 
  14. ^ The legendary MSV's juggernaut continues, M S Viswanathan, Yuvan Shankar Raja. Behindwoods.com (29 April 2013).
  15. ^ MSV in demand – Times Of India. The Times of India. (30 April 2013).
  16. ^ http://www.realbollywood.com/2013/09/ms-vishwanathan-vani-jairam-receive-pbs-puraskar.html
  17. ^ "Honorary doctorate for veteran musician M S Viswanathan". The Times of India. TNN. 10 January 2013. 
  18. ^ "Tamil Nadu / Chennai News : Honorary doctorates for seven eminent personalities". The Hindu. 4 September 2006. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  19. ^ http://www.emirates247.com/entertainment/mammotty-kavya-madhavan-bag-asiavision-awards-2013-11-05-1.526962

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