Manjula Vijayakumar (Screenshot from YouTube)
Manjula Vijayakumar (Screenshot from YouTube)Screenshot from YouTube

The Tamil film industry has witnessed the demise of several prominent personalities in the first half of this year. These celebrities, who left us for their heavenly abode, were once immensely successful in their respective fields. Let us take a look at some of these personalities whose memories will be etched forever in our minds.

Manjula Vijayakumar (1953-2013)

Veteran actress Manjula Vijayakumar passed away in Chennai on 23 July, following a stomach injury.

The yesteryear actress was admitted to Sri Ramachandra Medical Center, Porur, Chennai, where she breathed her last on Tuesday (23 July) morning. Her sudden death shocked the entire Tamil film world. Some of the prominent celebrities including Rajinikanth, Vijayakanth, Suriya, Sarath Kumar, Meena and Radhika turned up at Manjula's residence and paid their last respects. She was cremated at the Porur crematorium.  

Manjula has acted in more than 100 films in various south Indian languages including Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. Her first lead role was in MGR's "Rickshawkaran" (1971), after which she appeared with stars including Sivaji, NTR, Nageswara Rao, Vishnuvardhan and Gemini Ganesan.

Manjula is survived by her husband Vijayakumar (actor) and daughters - Sreedevi, Preetha and Vanitha.

Vaali (1931-2013)

Renowned Tamil lyricist Vaali died on 18 July, after suffering from respiratory illness. He was 82.

He was born as TS Rangarajan, but renamed himself as Vaali as he was an ardent fan of artist Mali. The veteran lyricist wrote his first song in 1958, but received recognition for his lyrics in the film "Idaythil Nee" that released in 1963. After this, Vaali penned more than 10,000 songs in a career that spanned over five decades.

Vaali has penned songs to legendary actors including MGR and Sivaji Ganesan as well as to current generation stars like Suriya and Dhanush. He has also written the lyrics for two songs - "Sonapareeya" and "Naetru aval", in the recently-released film "Mariyaan."

Vaali has also starred in some films including "Hey Ram" and "Paarthaale Paravasam."

The legendary lyricist is survived by his son Balaji.

Rasu Madhuravan (1969-2013)

Director Rasu Madhuravan who was suffering from throat cancer passed away on 8 July. He was 44.

The Tamil filmmaker is known for making rural and family-oriented subjects. Some of his popular films include "Pandi", "Maayandi Kudumbatthar", "Mutthukku Mutthaga" and "Goripalayam". His last film was "Sogusu Perundhu", which is yet to be released.

He is survived by wife Bhavani and two daughters, Nesika and Anishka.

Manivannan (1954-2013)

Directo-cum-actor Manivannan died of cardiac arrest on 15 June at the age of 59.

Manivannan, who hailed from Coimbatore, entered the Tamil film industry in late 1970s. He initially began penning stories and dialogues for Bharathiraja's films. He later directed about 50 films and has starred in more than 400 films.

His last film as a director was "Nagaraja Cholan MA, MLA" , which released this year. The film, starring Sathyaraj, is a sequel to the superhit "Amaithi Padai."

T.M. Soundararajan (1922-2013)

T.M. Soundararajan, veteran Tamil playback singer, passed away on 25 May following a brief illness. He was 91.

The legendary singer, who is popularly known as TMS, has rendered over 10,000 film as well as devotional songs. In a career span of over six decades, TMS has crooned for almost all the leading heroes of Tamil cinema including Sivaji Ganesan, MGR, Sivakumar and also for stars belonging to the next generation.

Hailing from Madurai, TMS began his singing career in 1946 and has several hit Tamil film songs to his credit. He lastly sang in the theme song of the World Classical Tamil Conference, which happened in 2010. Oscar winner AR Rahman composed the theme song.

TMS has won several honours including the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award and Tamil Nadu government's "Kalaimamani" award.

The singer was ailing for some time and was receiving medical treatment. After a brief illness, he passed away in May. TMS is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

T. K. Ramamurthy (1922-2013)

Noted music composer TK Ramamurthy (from the music director duo Vishwanthan (MSV)-Ramamurthy) died in Chennai on 17 April, following a brief illness. He was 92.

Ramamurthy was born into the family of musicians and mastered the violin before the age of 12. Ramamurthy and MSV joined as assistants to CR Subbaraman, the music director of HMV music troupe. After the death of Subbaraman at the young age of 28, MSV and Ramamurthy were given the responsibility of composing music for films.

The music director duo, popularly referred as "Mellisai Mannargal", joined hands in 1952 and composed songs for 86 films. In 1965, Ramamurthy parted ways with MSV and composed songs for a few films. But he could not imitate the success of his former partner, Vamanan, Tamil film music historian and author of the book Thirai Isai Alaigal, once told The Hindu.

Ramamurthy's last significant public appearance was at the anniversary function of Tamil channel Jaya TV, where he was honoured for his work by Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa.

The composer is survived by wife, seven daughters and four sons.

P B Srinivas (1930 -2013)

Veteran playback singer PB Srinivasd died of heart attack at his residence in Chennai on 14 April. He was 82.

Srinivas, who hailed from Andhra Pradesh, began his singing career in the early 1950s. After struggling to get a foothold in the Tamil film industry, music director G Ramanathan gave him a chance to sing "Inbam Pongum Vennila" for Gemini Ganesan in the film "Veerapandiya Kattabomman."

He later became the voice of Tamil star Gemini Ganesan and Kannada superstar Rajkumar and was at his peak from the 1950s to the 1970s. He has sung more than 3,000 songs in all the prominent film industries including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi. Besides singing film songs, PB Srinivas has sung hundreds of devotional songs, composed music and written lyrics.

The legendary singer is survived by his wife Janaki, four sons and a daughter.