The first person who left us all was veteran Sukumari, who breathed her last on March 26! The various roles she has played still remain fresh in all our minds! A Padma Shri awardee, she started acting at the age of 10 and has acted in over 2500 movies. She was also the proud recipient of the National Award for Best Supporting Actress, for the 2010 movie Namma Gramam. Sadly, this talented actress suffered from heart attack after getting injured from some severe burns which she sustained during lighting a lamp at her house. She has numerous awards to her credit, and a few of her roles including playing a good-hearted woman who gifts a special watch to Simran in the Kamal starrer Pammal K Sambandham, will always remain fresh in the minds of her fans. Of the thousands of eulogies that followed her death, the one that signifies her best is that said by KB Ganesh Kumar, an actor and a Minister of State from Kerala – “Actors in the Malayalam industry have lost the loving presence of a mother on the sets!”
Who can forget the evergreen renditions of the man with the golden baritone – PB Sreenivas! The veteran playback singer who has lent his voice to songs from many industries across our country was also a victim to the dreaded heart attack, albeit at the ripe old age of 82 on April 14, 2013! A man who sang over 3000 songs across different languages like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi, Malayalam and Tulu, was most highly recognized in Karnataka as his voicing for the songs of their most famous acting legend Dr. Rajkumar churned out hit after hit and the work that came out in the duo’s combination reached never-seen-before heights. Also very well known for his involvement in carnatic music, PBS had a voice that just lilted thousands and thousands of his followers!
After losing so many great legends, cinema had to face another loss in the form of the singing sensation, TM Soundararajan – fondly known as TMS! With over 20,000 cinema songs in over 5,000 movies and another over 3,000 devotional songs to his credit, TMS gave his all for cinema for over 60 years. A Padma Shri and a Kalaimamani awardee, it can be proudly said that it was an honour for any award to be bestowed upon him. After starting out with the famous ‘Naan Aanaiyittaal’ for the legend MGR, he has given countless songs that have literally forged the identity of many actors. The rich voice and the lovely notes that were a trademark of TMS, can never be reproduced by anybody, ever. An irreplaceable loss indeed!
A great loss to the Tamil cinema industry came when versatile actor and director Manivannan passed away after succumbing to a heart attack on June 15th, just a few days after the release of his 50th directorial – Nagaraja Chozhan MA, MLA (sequel to the runaway superhit Amaidhi Padai). After beginning his career as a dialogue and story writer for Bharathiraja, Manivannan turned out to become a highly successful director and actor! Some of his most noted directorials include his debut movie – the 1982 Mohan and Suhasini starrer – Gopurangal Saivathillai, Nooravadhu Naal and Amaidhi Padai to his last Nagaraja Chozhan MA, MLA! He also left a major mark as an actor with his witty and sarcastic repartees making his comedy stand out and also his unique dialogue delivery making him a terrifying villain. He has also played many character roles and some of his best works include movies like Sangamam, Pistha, Maayandi Kudumbathaar, and many others! Though he is no more, his work and the ideals he lived for would live for many years to come.
July 18th saw the biggest blow being dealt to the Kollywood industry! The industry lost a stellar legend who has inspired generations of cinema fans with his work. The passing away of Kavignar Vaali, whose words will forever remain with us through his thousands of songs and dialogues, came as a devastating piece of news. In his over 50-year association with Tamil cinema, he has penned over 15,000 songs and also acted in a few movies! Vaali, born as TS Rangarajan, is also a proud recipient of India’s 4th highest civilian honour – the Padma Shri. The uniqueness that this master lyricist carried with him was his ability to adapt to the current generation. Over his long association with cinema, he has written not only for legends like MGR, Sivaji, Rajini and Kamal, but has also penned songs for some of the latest stars. His last bodies of work have appeared in as latest as movies released this past year and a few yet to be released movies also have the proud honour of having songs penned by him! I am sure that each and every member from the past few generations would have their own personal favourite Vaali number. Whatever the mood may be or whatever the situation may be, there is a Vaali song to suit them all!
On July 23rd we lost Manjula Vijaykumar, the beloved lady of the Vijaykumar family who has acted as the female lead with many big names from Kollywood such as Sivaji Ganesan and MGR. This bubbly faced actress was a victim of a freak accident at her home. After having debuted with the 1969 movie Shanti Nilayam, Manjula acted in over 40 movies with her last appearance being in the 2011 movie En Ullam Unnai Theduthey. Her three daughters with veteran actor Vijayakumar – Vanitha, Preetha and Sridevi are all actors, though none of them have matched up to the levels of glory that she enjoyed at her peak!
The past year has seen the passing of a number of stars and artistes who enriched cinema for quite some period of time. Though we do know that all good things must come to an end and that nothing lasts forever, when such stalwarts pass away, it sure tugs at the heartstrings. However, on the brighter side of things, 2014 is just around the corner and the prospects of an eventful year ahead are very bright. See you all in the New Year, and wish you the reader and all your family members a Very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with joy, prosperity and good health!