Dr TMS TMS was born in a Sourashtra community in Madurai and was the second son of Meenatchi Iyengar. He was born in prominent prohitham family and his elder brother was great vedic scholar. He had been training his voice since the age of 7. He first learnt carnatic music from Chinnakonda Sarangapani Bhagavathar, a music teacher from Sourashtra High School, Madurai. Later, he learnt carnatic music from Arayakkudi Rajamani Iyengar for two years and started giving stage concerts at the age of 21. He started singing in stage concerts in the voice of M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar.
TMS had to really struggle in the beginning to get a breakthrough because he was getting rejected by the music composers and recording technicians because his voice was cracking and showed variation in higher pitches.(Oru Pann-Paattu Sarithiram:Vamanan). Whilst he was working for six months in the house of Sunderlal Natkarni, a director in the Central Studios, hoping to get a chance and the director recommended to S. M. Subbaiah Naidu to give TMS a singing chance.
In 1946, S. M. Subbaiah Naidu gave TMS sing five songs in the style of M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar for the film of P. V. Narasimha Bharathi starrer Krishna Vijayam, though the songs were noteworthy from 1946, the film was released only in 1950. The hit song was Raathey Ennai Vittu Odathedi and he was paid Rs 625 for that. In the same year 1950, G. Ramanathan made him to sing Annamitta Veettiley for an unknown actor in the film Manthiri Kumari. In 1951 TMS acted and sang Theeraatha Thuyaralley as a beggar in Devagi again by G. Ramanathan. In 1952, Susarla Dakshinamurthi gave TMS sang two duet songs in Valayapathi which are Kulir Thaamarai Poigaiyai Kanden and Kulungidum Poovilellaam both with K. Jamuna Rani. TMS had the opportunity to sing songs which wrote by Bharathidasan.
Even the songs are well received, there was no further chance for TMS. Then TMS came to the HMV studio where K. V. Mahadevan recorded two devotional songs for which he was paid Rs 80. K. V. Mahadevan requested TMS to go seek chance in the AVM Productions which was looking for new voices. TMS sang two songs for the film Chella Pillai. One was solo Podanum Kulla Podanum and the other is a duet with M.S. Rajeswari, Naadu Nadakkira Nadayiley under R.Sudharsanam Master's composition. The film was released only in 1955.These music composers helped and trained the determined and ambitious TMS, who was able to overcome his voice problems to a good degree with time. In 1954, Maruthakasi recommended TMS to sing in Aruna Pictures Thooku Thookki. Till then C. S. Jayaraman used to sing playback for Sivaji Ganesan and Sivaji doubted the suitability of the voice but TMS was willing to sing three songs free. TMS and Sivaji Ganesan were introduced to each other and in the short conversation TMS studied the voice of Sivaji Ganesan. TMS sang Sundari Soundari and Eratha Malaithaniley, imitating the voice of Sivaji Ganesan to the closest possible. G. Ramanathan who was the music director for this film was so much pleased and gave TMS the chance to sing all the songs for Sivaji Ganesan. All the songs were instant and great hits and TMS became famous overnight.
In the same year, meanwhile T. R. Ramanna and T. R. Rajakumari started the RR Films. As the film Koondukkili was under production stage, TMS was given a chance to sing only chorus. It should be noted that Koondukkili was the only film where MGR and Sivaji acted together. Tanjai Ramayah Dass was very impressed with the golden voice of TMS, and he requested the story and dialogue writer Vindhan to give a chance to sing a full solo. TMS had sung Konjum Kiliyana Pennai under K. V. Mahadevan's composition. That was the first song by TMS for Sivaji Ganesan. But as the song was recorded MGR heard it, was so much impressed and intended TMS to be his permanent singer. He was used in MGR’s next movie Malaikkallan where TMS sang Ethanai Kaalamthaan Ematruvaar Intha Naattiley written by Tanjai Ramaiyah Dass and composed by S. M. Subbaiah Naidu.
During this period, TMS got opportunity to sing various films like Vedan Kannappa, Rishi Sringer and Neela Malai Thirudan. Right from the beginning TMS was excellent at imitating the voices of most of the heroes he sang for. In the movie, Kumudam, he has sang a song for Nadigavel M.R.Radha ("Sarkku irunthaa Avuthuvidu") imitating his voice. From 1955 onwards Sivaji started to insist on TMS to do playback singer singing for him. Since then, TMS was mainly doing playback with others for MGR and Sivaji till the end of 1977 and 1995 respectively. He was the 'uncrowned king' in Tamil film industry for playback singing in 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and also in 1980s.
Right from S. V. Venkatraman, S. M. Subbaiah Naidu, S. Rajeswara Rao, T. Govindarajulu Naidu, R. Sudharsanam, R. Govardhanam, S. Dakshinamurthi, G. Ramanathan, C. N. Pandurangan, Adepalli Rama Rao, Master Venu, T. A. Kalyanam, M. S. Gnanamani, K. V. Mahadevan, Pendyala Nageswara Rao, G. Aswathama, V. Dakshinamoorthy, T. G. Lingappa, P. Adinarayana Rao, P. S. Diwakar, T. R. Papa, T. V. Raju, C. S. Jayaraman, Ghantasala, Vedha, M. S. Viswanathan, T. K. Ramamoorthy, V. Kumar, Aba vanan, Rajan-Nagendra, Devarajan, M. Ranga Rao, Vijaya Bhaskar, Ilaiyaraja, Sankar Ganesh, Deva, T. Rajendar, A. R. Rahman and Hindi film music composer, O. P. Nayyar,Naushad,and Manoj Gyan are whom Music composers he sang for.
As like He had sung together with other male singers such as Sirkazhi Govindarajan, P. B. Sreenivas,BalaMurali krishna, S. C. Krishnan, C. S. Jayaraman, Tharapuram Sundarajan, P. Jayachandran, Thiruchi Loganathan, J. P. Chandrababu, K. R. Ramasamy, V. N. Sundaram, A. L. Ragavan, K. J. Yesudas S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and Malaysia Vasudevan. He also sung duets with many female singers such as P. Susheela, P. Leela, Jikki, L. R. Eswari, S. Janaki, Vani Jairam, M. S. Rajeswari, K. Jamuna Rani, M. L. Vasanthakumari, U. R. Jeevarathinam, N. L. Ganasaraswathi, T. V. Rathinam, Radha Jayalakshmi, Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi, R. Balasaraswathi Devi, A. P. Komala, K. Rani, B. S. Sasirekha, P. Bhanumathi,K.B.Sunderambal,M.S.SubhaLakshmi,D.K.Pattambal and M.L. Vasanthakumari.