×

Tamil Songwriter Vaali Dies at 83

Vaali wrote 10,000 songs in 6-decade career

Tamil songwriter Vaali, who penned more than 10,000 tunes in a career spanning more than 60 years, died July 18 in Chennai, India, of respiratory problems. He was 83.

His lyrics drew composers such as M.S. Viswanathan, Ilayaraja and A.R. Rahman to him over the years. Actors, who had to lip-sync the songs, also identified with his lyrics from 1960s Tamil leading men such as M.G. Ramachandran and Sivaji Ganesan, as well as later stars like Kamaal Haasan. Working up to the end, Vaali’s songs had many modern references, including one to Osama bin Laden.

Born T.S. Rangarajan in Srirangam, Tamilnadu, he came to Madras (now known as Chennai) in the 1950s to work in the prolific Tamil film industry, which followed a similar song-and-dance formula to that of Bollywood. However, the songwriter throne at the time was occupied by Kannadasan. Vaali finally got his break with “Karpagam” in 1963 and the poet never looked back, working, he said, as fast as the checks hit his bank account. His songs included such hits as “Naan anai ittal” for 1965’s “Enga veetu pillai,” “Kanpona pokile kaal pogalama” for “Panam padaithavan” and “Aandavanae un pathangalil” for “Oli villakal”  (1968). The latter became an anthem for grieving fans when Ramachandran died in 1987.

Singer P. Susheela told the Times of India: “My first national award came for the song ”Naalai intha velai parthu’ (from 1969’s ‘Uyarntha Manithan’), which Vaali wrote. How can I ever forget that? I will never forget him.”

He was also a playwright, acted in a few films and tried his hand at directing with “Vadaimaala.” His literary works included “Avathara Purushan,” a religious piece on the Hindu god Rama.

Survivors include a son.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Participant Taps Anikah McLaren, Robert Kessel

    Participant Taps Anikah McLaren, Robert Kessel to Head Film Department

    Participant Media has named industry veterans Anikah McLaren and Robert Kessel as co-heads of the company’s film department with the titles of executive vice president. Both executives will report together to Participant CEO David Linde, who made the announcement Thursday. McLaren joins Participant having most recently served as a production executive for Fox Searchlight Pictures. [...]

  • 'The Son' Review: Bosnian Family Drama

    Sarajevo Film Review: 'The Son'

    It is a mixed blessing to be born in the aftermath of a war. On the one hand, you never have to experience the terror and suffering your parents did; on the other, you grow up with your own personal crises forever made to feel smaller by comparison. That, at least, is the frustration driving [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Box Office: Jennifer Lopez 'Hustlers' Heading for $25 Million Launch

    STX Entertainment’s “Hustlers,” a comedic thriller about strip-club employees seeking revenge, is expected to earn $25 million when it opens on Sept. 13, according to early tracking. The movie — starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Cardi B and Lizzo — will debut alongside Warner Bros.’ “The Goldfinch.” The drama, based on [...]

  • AMC TheatresShop signs, Los Angeles, America

    AMC Theatres Lays Off 35 Corporate Staffers

    AMC Entertainment has laid off 35 corporate staffers and will not fill an additional 15 open jobs. The Kansas-based chain made the announcement Thursday as part of a previously announced “profit improvement plan” intended to achieve operating and administrative efficiencies. AMC, which operates more than 10,000 movie screens, had disclosed the plan on Aug. 8 [...]

  • Ann Sarnoff Warner Bros

    Ann Sarnoff Formally Takes Reins of Warner Bros. as CEO

    The Ann Sarnoff era at Warner Bros. has begun. Sarnoff formally took the reins as Warner Bros. chair-CEO on Thursday, two months after she was appointed to the post. Sarnoff told employees in a memo that she has been impressed by the company’s track record during the past year amid a period of upheaval for [...]

  • Take Me Somewhere Nice review

    Ena Sendijarevic on Migration, Identity and the Question of Belonging

    Bosnian filmmaker Ena Sendijarević had an auspicious debut with “Import,” a short film which world premiered in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2016. Drawing on her own family’s personal history, the Amsterdam-based director crafted an idiosyncratic tale about a family of Bosnian refugees trying to make a new home in the Netherlands. With her feature debut, [...]

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Haugesund Prizes ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire,’ ‘Him,’ ‘Ballon’

    HAUGESUND, Norway  —  Celine Sciamma’s intellectually dexterous, bittersweet love tale “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” has claimed another heart, taking home The Norwegian Film-Critics’ Prize at the Haugesund Film Festival’s closing night on Thursday. The festival, which runs over August 17-23, capped its 47th edition with a screening of André Løyning and Kristian Landmark’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content