FORUM - by MSV fans
A forum for Manayangath Subramanian Viswanathan again? What better can any genuine lover of Tamil film music ever crave for? That MSV reappears on a forum is eloquent proof of this genius as a composer par excellence. Without mincing words, let us put it straight. MSV is hailed for his prowess of captivating styles in any genre of TFM. To have tirelessly wielded his baton, setting high standards of precision, getting the best out of his men on the orchestra, call for sympathetic analyses to pinpoint what does ‘effort’ in the true sense of the term mean. Well. It was an era of very little conveniences and a lot of inconveniences- be it comfortable accommodation for artistes on sessions of recording or true-to-life tonal qualities of recording equipment and even the number of microphones for all the singers. Once, the doyen singer P.Susheela said the male singer and she would come to the microphone in turns to render her/his portion. None of these harsh situations ever daunted MSV from eliciting what he desired of the singers or of the orchestral musical elements from his musicians.
Every song of his day was rehearsed to perfection before embarking on ‘recording’. That was both cruel and crucial in the sense that, underprepared team would commit errors during recording. Any small error in the session would mean a complete repeat of the whole song, with no means of inserting corrections at right points. Meticulous sessions of rehearsals consumed more time than sessions of “composing “and discussing projects with film makers. Physical toil was the order of the day then. Yet MSV was able to ride the crest of the wave proving the mega hopes pinned on this diminutive man by the then movie makers. He was simultaneously wanted everywhere- song setting, tune setting, singer[s] training, orchestra planning, sharing notes [liable to change just prior to the word “go”] and so on. He was the first choice MD for all mega stars and movie houses for near two decades plus since 1955 or so. What amazes us has been his act of balancing, gelling with contemporaries, choosing to stay in the back drop with no semblance of any image-building-exercise, purely relying on his merit and skill to enthrall listeners for decades unabated.
Despite his monarch status on the trade, he was more innovative and rejuvenating than many others. Any critical, unbiased evaluation of his compositions year-wise in films throws up a clear signal; he was never static in styles, more dynamic changing the format in 4-5 year spans. He kept changing his orchestration patterns [on the face of no competition]. Never has MSV hesitated to try out instrumental alliances, absolutely ‘out of the box’. He could put Piano and mridangam in consonance, dabble with Guitar and Thavil, Drums with Nagaswaram and Bongo with cluster of violins- all to a telling effect! Mind you it was never a mindless experimentation. Was he not the MD who ably carved the niche for Bongo in TFM in mid 1960s and elevated it to the stature of the inevitable? This is not just why he stands out. If we were to single out a facet of MSV to adore his skill as a composer, it is his uncanny ability to strike a chord of harmony and seamless blending of all the seemingly incongruous. Also in song rendition, he cultivated the culture of mood emphasis through reiteration. Besides, he has to his credit the art of non-lyrical inserts like humming, before the opening of a number; he has effectively set chorus as a strategy of embellishment. With so much to ponder over, the forum would prove a platform to hear experts, specialists and commoner like my humble self to realize what has MSV doled out to us seeking nothing in return. A mega mind of the stature of MSV’s deserves intricate evaluation. We request all admirers of MSV to bring out their perceptions on MSV’s works in the days to come. Kindly avoid unhealthy debates trying to compare the incomparable. Thank you Good luck
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