As an Independent Music Director
A legendary perfectionist, he established a prolific career composing film music in the Tamil film industry.
M.S.Viswanathan’s achievements range from introducing fresher melodies with changing trends, style and orchestration approaches to incorporating various genres of what is now called world music into Indian cinema music. Humming, Chorus, Whistling were all incorporated swiftly in the songs composed by M.S.V without usage of advanced technology way back in the 1950s to the 1970s. MSV continued to upgrade his music with new trends like western music and disco from the early 1970s till the 1990s and blended them with Indian classical tunes. Viswanathan during the late 70s and 80s chose mainly the young, up and coming singers, S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, and Vani Jayaram giving career’s of these singers the much needed boost.
During the 70s and 80s he chose mainly the young, up and coming singers, S. P. Balasubramaniam and Vani Jayaram giving their career the much needed boost whilst still continuing with P.Susheela, L.R.Eshwari and T.M. Soundararajan in many films between 1970-1991. Although S.P.Balasubramaniyam shot to fame with the song “Ayiram Nilave Vaa” from Adimai Penn, a K. V. Mahadevan composition in 1969 which S.P.Balasubramanyam got to sing the song the insistence of M. G. Ramachandran, but fact was that it was Viswanathan who booked him first for a Tamil film and gave him his first Tamil song, from Shanthi Nilayam with the song “Iyarkai Ennum” also in 1969, though the latter got released after Adimai Penn. S.P.Balasubramaniyam regards Viswanathan as one of his patrons and Gurus in the Tamil films. Viswanathan introduced Jayachandran, the Malayalam singer to the Tamil films in Manippayal(1973) with the song Thanga-chimizhpol and used him for many more films in the 70s. K. J. Yesudas was given a big break in the film Kathalikka Neramillai in 1964 by the duo. Then Ramamoorthy used him for the hit song Vasantha Kalam Varumo in the film Marakka Mudiyuma in 1965.But Viswanathan started working with him again only in 1973 after a long gap at the insistence of M. G. Ramachandran in the film ‘Ulagam Sutrum Valiban’. Yesudas then continued to be his voice in many films like in Nalai Namathe, Urmaikural, Sirithu Vazha Vendum etc., in Viswanathan’s music. Then Viswanathan used Yesudas as the voice for the up-and-coming actors of the late 70s like Sivakumar, Kamalahasan, Vijaykumar and others. He is also considered responsible for making singers like R.Balasaraswathi in the early 1960s and then in making Vani Jayram, S.Janaki, A.L. Raghavan, Yesudas, S.P.Balasubramaniyam a popular name since the late 1960s.
Film directors like 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. Viswanathan continued to belt out hit songs from 1965 till 1996.
Since 1996 Viswanathan has focused on composing devotional music and serving as a judge in Malayalam TV reality shows.He has 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. He in 2013 composed music for the film Thillu Mullu, with Yuvan Shankar Raja.