Thoguluva Meenatchi Iyengar Soundararajan was born on 24th March 1922 in Madurai to Meenakshi Iyengar and Venkatamma. He is fondly called as TMS, even now. Although he is a Sourashtrian, his versatility in Tamil, took him to heights. TMS was not only a playback singer but a wonderful Carnatic Singer too. Chinnakonda Sarangapani Bhagavathar, who worked as a music teacher in Sourashtra Boys High School in Madurai was TMS’ mentor. Arayakkudi Rajamani Iyer taught him Carnatic Music. TMS was popular for imitating MK Thyagaraja Bhagavathar’s voice at the concerts, before his entry to the cinema. Although he had crooned for a lot of heroes, his voice suit “
M G Ramachandran
perfectly. Not only for MGR and Sivaji he had also lent his voice to the next-gen actors including “
” and Kamal Haasan.
It is exciting to hear that the legendary singer had crooned more than 10138 songs in 3162 movies. He has sung in 11 languages including all the southern languages and Hindi. Besides singing under the composition of other music directors, he had composed the music for a movie, Bala Parikshai. His first song came in the year 1946 when he was 24 and his final song was in 2010 with his colleague, “P Susheela.” Although TMS’ voice was majestic, it was not good in high pitches, during his initial stages and that’s the reason why the music directors rejected him. It was
Sundar Rao Nadkarni
, a popular director, who suggested him to SM
. Subbaiah Naidu gave him an opportunity to sing a few songs in MK Thyagaraja Bhagavathar’s style and that was the turning point in TMS' career. He had sung a lot of songs under the music composition of MS Viswanathan and Ramamurthy. He had also acted in a few films including Pattinathar and Arunagirinathar. TMS tied the knots with Sumithra in 1946. He had six children; three sons and three daughters.
He had sung for MGR till 1978 and for Sivaji till 1995. In 2003, he received the honorary Padma Shri for his service to the music and cinema industry. The Tamilnadu government had honored him with Kalaimamani award. Besides these awards, he had received a lot of awards and honors from overseas too. In 2016, the Indian Government released stamps for ten legendary singers and TMS was one among them. TMS died in 25th May 2013 at his 91.