M.S. Viswanathan: 1928 – 2015

MS Viswanathan at Kaviyarasu Kannadasan Vizha 2014

(Before AR Rahman and Illayaraja, there was only one great musician and that was MSV. Image source)

CHENNAI: Legendary music composer and singer M S Viswanathan, who had been critically ill for the past few days, passed away at a private hospital in Chennai in the early hours of Tuesday. He was 87.

The music maestro was admitted to the intensive care unit of Fortis Malar Hospitals on June 27 with breathing difficulty and his condition had been worsening ever since.

Hospital sources said he had been suffering from age-related ailments and had lost his memory. Though the hospital said in a statement last Monday that he was on the road to recovery, his situation took a turn for the worse a couple of days ago.

“He passed away at 4.15am,” said hospital sources.

M S Viswanathan (fondly called MSV) composed songs for more than 1,200 films in Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu. In Tamil, he composed songs for films like Billa, Nalai Namathe, Urmai Kural and Sirithu Vazha Vendum.



Kamal’s Ponmaanai Theduthey


(The many faces of the great man in multiple roles all these years and he still making headlines even now. Image source: http://www.bollywoodlife.com)

In terms of acting, after the great Sivaji Ganesan, we were lucky to have Kamal Haasan taking up the lead when it comes to powerful acting. And over the years, he has not let us down with powerful storyline and acting (still remember this?).

Kamal Haasan is also a good singer when he wants to be and he takes the lead (again) with being the first actor (an “A” star actor that is) to sing for another actor (Mogan – another well name from the 1980s). This was back in the 1980s – after his hit “Sakalakalaa Vallavan” and for this, maestro Illayaraja gave Kamal one of the best compositions as well (rest assured it is in my collection). The fast & easy going tune has been in my mind for the past 2 weeks and it does not seem to be getting any boring even if I am humming the tune whilst I am doing up this post.


Original Tune (I could not find the original movie song scene)

And there is a remix version too (it sounds good too)

P.s. there is no clear sign of the next generation of actors who can produce, write, act and sing (an all rounder) as well as Kamal Haasan but let me tell you this upfront, Vijay is not one of those in the lead. He is a good actor but not in the same class as Kamal Haasan.

Seeing Double

(Perhaps this is just the distraction that one needs from the National Feedlot screw-up by yet to be retired BN politicians)

Still remember when you were young and you used (and still) watch those old Tamil movies where the star actor acts in more than one role (usually playing the role of the father & son or the good & evil brothers)?

(Seeing Sivaji Ganesan in action is one thing but seeing the two of them could be a double whammy. Both interacted well on screen but still there are some limitations as to how both characters blended in on screen. Image source: Business Line)

When both roles is shown on the same scene, one character would be on one side of the frame whilst the other character on the other. The only time when these two characters overlapped each other is when one of the characters is played by someone else (it will be shown without showing the face). It was good and highlighted the difficulties that the actors, director and editor have to go through to ensure that that particular scene comes out just perfect.

Even so, seeing the same person on two different roles at the same time in a movie was a big thing back then and we knew that it was not easy to do. Just imagine the number of takes just to get the actor acting as if there was another of “him” standing next to him and the film editors cutting and stitching the film rolls at the right places.

But those were the years when technology has yet to catch up with the art of story telling.

It is a whole different ball game now and we have seen it in great deal in special effect laden Hollywood movies and they seems to be getting better at it year in, year out. Tamil movies have seen some improvement when it comes to CGIs as well. We saw a great deal in Dasavatharam (where Kamal Hassan played 10 different roles and interacting with each of them at some point of the movie), Enthiran (ya, the stupid climax) and recently Shah Rukh Khan‘s Ra.One (the storyline sucked big time but the CGI is top notch).

Now with computer animations, blue screens (green screens as the above) and well choreographed acting, the result is simply amazing. You can have more than one characters on the screen played by the same actor and they blend and interact with each other as if they are played by different actors.

Take for example this song scene from the movie Thillalangadi (2010) where the hero and the heroin is shown in different roles and interacting with each other in a very fluid manner (it makes it even better with Yuvan Shankar Raja‘s lovable music, very meaningful lyrics and well coordinated choreography).

Now that that is mind-blowing! Add that with a clean, logical story-telling, superb background music and fine acting and you will have a real winner.

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Little House on the Prairie

Those were the good old days, aren’t they?

I don’t why but somehow I been thinking about this show titled “Little House of the Prairie” –shown back in the 80’s in our local TV lately (others that has been in my mind is those old movies starring MGR and Sivaji Ganesan). Perhaps I am just weary of my schedule for shifting to the new house or perhaps of the fact that the actress Padmini has just passed away – maybe.

The story of the “Little House on the Prairie” started as a children’s book by Laura Ingalls Wilder in 1935. The Little House series (also known as “Laura Years”) is based on decades-old memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s childhood in the Midwest region of the United States during the late 19th century. It was then adapted for a TV show titled the same in early 1970s. Little House On The Prairie was an one-hour dramatic television program that aired on the NBC network from September 11, 1974 to March 21, 1983. Charles Ingalls played by Michael Landon directed a majority of the episodes.

The first show started on 11th September 1974 and the opening story titled “Harvest of Friends” indicated what a great show it was going to be:-

The Ingalls move into their house after leaving the Big Woods. Charles Ingalls first meets the townsfolk, including Mrs. Oleson who runs the sundry shop in town. She refuses to give him credit because she fears he’ll run up the bill and “skip out in the dead of night.” Charles Ingalls ends up striking a deal with Mr. Liem O’Neil, the proprietor of the Walnut Grove Feed & Seed in order to get the plow he needs.

He promises to fix the shed and stack the grain in 3 weeks or his oxen will go to O’Neil. Later, during a family picnic, Charles Ingalls crawls up a tree to get a kite for his daughter and falls down, breaking his ribs. The town doctor, Dr. Baker tells him he must stay in bed so that the injuries will heal. However as Charles Ingalls couldn’t work his oxen are taken away by O’Neil. Charles Ingalls goes to confront O’Neil even though he wasn’t supposed to get out of bed because he still has until midnight to fulfill his part of the deal. He collapses while stacking the grain and his young daughters, Mary & Laura who had followed him there, run up and take over the job.

This prompts the townsmen to all come up and help out by forming an assembly line & stack the rest of the grain. O’Neil, feeling guilty by now, tries to convince them he was about to give Mr. Ingalls more time, but they ignore him. After the work is done, one of the town people, Mr. Hanson tells Charles that the town is holding a plowing & harrowing contest and they want to use his land.(In other words, they want to do his plowing for him.)

Laura’s voice at the end says:“…Pa said he was glad we had come to live on the banks of Plum Creek because here, he’d harvested a crop he didn’t know he’d planted — a harvest of friends.”

I remember watching the show without fail with the whole family in the 80’s when we still staying in the old house in Old Klang Road. Perhaps it reminded us of our own family with my Dad sharing the similar characters with Charles Ingalls and my Mom taking care of us.

Whenever we watch these types of shows, it brings a warm and cozy feeling on how families should stick together during all times (the other show that shares this is The Waltons and Eight is Enough). In case you have not noticed it, we rarely have good shows on family ties these days (if there? and yes, Desperate Housewives does not count here).

10 days more to go and counting…

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