Vaali's real name is T. S. Rangarajan His father's name is Srinivasa Iyengar and his mother is Ponnammal. He was an artist and he worked at All India Radio (AIR). He holds the record for having written most number of lyrics in Tamil. He has written lyrics for over 10, 000 songs. In 1960s and 1970s, he received patronage from Tamil movie legend M.G.Ramachandran (MGR)and became a successful lyricist, in competition with poet Kannadasan, which he had chronicled in his autobiography Naanum Indha Nootrandum. Vaali has also authored other books such as Avathara Purushan, Pandavar Bhoomi, Ramanuja Kaviyam, Krishna Vijayam, Kalaignar Kaviyam, Krishna Bhakthan and Vaaliba vaali.
Vaali has not only written lyrics in pure Tamil, but all sorts of folk, hip-hop, rhythm and blues as well. He has also mixed other languages in Tamil songs. The legend goes that Vaali at one time in his life was contemplating suicide due to immense poverty when he heard the lines of the song "Mayakkama Kalakkamma" from the movie SumaiThangi, penned by Kannadasan. The lines "Unakkum keezhey(????)ullavar kodi ninaithu paarthu nimmadhi naadu..." changed his mindset and renewed his vigour to live a new life. Thus was born the great poet we know today. He has quoted that there were 24 hours with him but no food to eat and next came a time when he had enough on the plate but no time to eat.
Actor Kamal Haasan had asked Vaali to pen the lyrics for a love song for the film Apoorva Sakotharargal. Kamal asked him specifically to pen a love failure song. Vaali penned the lyrics and gave them to him. But Kamal wasn't satisfied as he felt the depth of emotion conveyed through the lyrics failed to match the intensity of the situation in the film. And so Vaali reworked his lyrics, until finally at his sixth attempt he wrote the lyrics and angrily flung his writing pad and said, "Ithukku mela ennala ezhutha mudiyathu" (I cannot write better than this). This song, "Unnai nenachaen paatu paaduchaen Thangamae gnanathangamae...", subsequently went on to win the National Award.
Prominent Kollywood celebrities attended the launch of Vaali 1000, a compilation of 1000 film songs written by him to mark the 80th birthday celebration of the lyricist.
Padmashri in 2007
He refused to get the National award for the song—indhia naadu enn veedu in the film "Bharatha vilas-1973"
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards
Vaali is a five-time winner of the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Lyricist
1970 – Engal Thangam
1979 – Ivargal Vidhyasamanavargal
1989 – Varusham Padhinaaru and Apoorva Sagodharargal
1990 – Keladi Kanmani
2008 – Dasavathaaram