About Viswanathan-Ramamurthi

Part of an Article by Randor Guy from The Hindu on the movie "Paava Mannippu"

The 1960's was an exciting period in the history of Tamil Cinema Business conditions were good and all set to fly into boom-sphere and as the decade danced along an increasing number of fims were being made.

The film "Pava Mannipu" had melodious music which contributed in abundant measure to the sucess of the movie. Meaningful lyrics in simple easily understandable Tamil penned by Kannadasan were set to soul filling music, contributed by Viswanathan-Ramamurthy.

M.S.Viswanathan and T.K.Ramamurthy who begun composing music as a team for films some years earlier shot to the top of the heap during 1960, when almost every song in Pava Mannipu became a hit number. Sung by T.M. Soundararajan, P.Susila, and P.B. Srinivas the songs were hummed by almost everybody. "Vanda Naal Muthal..", "Kalangalil Aval Vasantham...", "Aththan Ennathan...", "Palirukum Pazamirukum...",... all these songs proved a rage and joined the list of all-time hit tunes of Tamil cinema. Besides the melodious tunes, meaningful lyrics and facile rendering by the behind-the-scene play back singers, what attracted people was the orchestration, the arrangement of musical instruments and the excellent manner in which the composers blended them all together. It was facinatingly melodious, extremely pleasing to listerner's ears, something of a novelty in Tamil cinema.

The accordion, piccolo, melodion, xylophone, tuba, and many new percusion instruments - Viswanathan-Ramamurhy used them all. The overall impact was highly impressive and everybody was anxiuos to know who the music makers were and almost over-night the twosome found themselves famous starts in their own right. Producers and film-makers made a bee-line to their doors. Movie posters carried their names in large letters in a prominent position. For a period the two were a force in Tamil cinema and positive selling points in the marketing of a movie.

M.S. Viswanathan the more dynamic of the two, was enormously versatile and extremely quick in the uptake. He was born in Kerala in very humble circumstances. His early life was one long struggle. He had little interest in school and studies but revealed a flair for music, soon he took off to join the movies and struggled in Madras and Coimbatore, never sure of his next meal. Interestingly, Viswanathan had dreams of becoming an actor. Toiling and hoping for better morrows, he clawed his way and joined Jupiter Pictures. Here he performed every kind of task. Indeed, he was a 'gofer' and did walk-on roles in films like "kannagi"(1942). With his interest in music he worked his way to become a fixer in the music department and became close to the in-house music composer S.M.Subbaiah.

Subbaiah was impressed by this smart lad, his charming ways, sense of humor, capacity for hardwork and his deep interest in music. That is how it all began for Viswanathan and soon he was a composing assistant and arranger with the good flair for innovative orchestration.

T.K. Ramamurthy, a native of Trichi, hailed from a family of musicians with proficiency in playing the violin. He recieved training in classical Carnatic music and violin. He attained a good degree of skill as a violinist and entered films at first as an instrumentalist.

Viswanathan-Ramamurthy worked together in many films as a team. When C.R.Subbaraman, one of the leading music directors of his day, fell ill and could not work, these two, his assistants took over and completed the unfinished work with impressive results. Then came their break in the mid 1950s and their music in films like "Puthayal" (1958) became popular. But their hour of glory began only in 1961 with "Paava Mannipu".