Skip to Content

Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1585

Sunday Celebrity: Singing legend TMS, his music spirit enlivens him

By Gopal Ethiraj, Chennai
Chennai, 01 March, (

The news that the veteran playback singer was hospitalized in Chennai came as a big shock. It was on February 16. It was diagnosed he was suffering from memory loss and found to be with some neurological disorder. A week later the 87-year-old singer was seen with his singer sons on stage at Madurai, singing. That was a wonder.

That is the spirit of music, the singing legend T .M. Soundararajan is embodiment of.

Asian Tribune called on him at his house yesterday evening. He was frail and weak. If there is an appointment even now with music, he would not fail. That is the indomitable spirit of music he breathes in.

He said his fans' blessings and wishes helped him come out the "death bed". The singing legend said that there is a song recording for a new Tamil film in Malaysia next month. Positive thinking.

Vairamuthu, leading lyricist of our times has once hailed the veteran playback singer T.M. Soundararajan that would live as long as wind is there in the world. Although it is said with a poetic touch, Vairmuthu seemed to have meant about his will power, that he has.

The singing legend has over 10,000 songs to his credit in a career spanning over six decades.

The great singer has touched the souls and minds of many through his majestic voice.

He gave his voice for almost all the heroes of Tamil films from MGR, Sivaji, Kamal Hasan, Rajinikanth, Sivakumar, Jai Shankar, Muthuraman, Sathyaraj, and Karthik, to many popular actors.

Popularly known as TMS, he burst on to the Tamil film music scenario with 'Thookku Thookki'. He carried on in the singing style of MKT, till he joined with M S Viswanathan. He was the dominant singer till the late seventies.

He used to sing in distinct styles for the two great heroes of his time, MGR and Sivaji, and came to be identified as their voice. His voice was majestic, resonant and very stable at even very high pitches.

TMS has been role model for many; singing in his style, many had turned popular singers. It used to be said he has the ability to perform over three hours at a stretch, be it carnatic or film music.

For a decade, his concentration turned to carnatic music. His cassette Tamil isai padaalgal, a pure classical work, has become a best seller. Melody, nathaam, poise and control over voice and great rendition — you don't have to strain to catch the lyrics — emotions flow out and no damage done to the ragas.

One great fan of TMS has this to say of him: ‘For him, the bhavam is equally important. He is comfortable with all ranges. Even Md Rafi used to choke when he reached the octave. Once I heard that Rafi had a great regard for TMS's songs. I was told that when Rafi was at the AVM studio, he had a chance meeting with TMS. That was probably after TMS had song “Oor Aaiyram Paarvailee Unn Paarvaie Naan Aryven.” Rafi had hugged TMS, planted a kiss on the neck and exclaimed “What a voice! You are born to sing.”

Recently he was on Sun TV as the judge of the Sapathswarangal finals. He chipped in with his film songs. He neither had notes nor the lyrics with him. Still he rendered the songs the way he had done decades ago — clearly a man of perfection., who can infuse life to words, not just sing a lyric.

His hit numbers

TMS’ hits include “Oli Mayamana ethir Kalam unn kangalil therigirathu” ( Pachhai Vilakku), “Avanukkenna Thoongivittan” (Periya Idathu Penn), “Naan oru Kulandai” (Padakotti), “Naan Enna Sollivitten” (Bale Pandiya), “ Achcham enbathu Madaimaiyada”, “Ulaham Pirandadu Enakkaha” (Paasam), “Yadadi Mohinee” (Uthama Puthran).

“Pudiya Vanam Pudiya Bhoomi Engum Panimazhi Pozhigirathu” (Anbe Vaa), “Oru Pennai Parthu” (Theiva Thai), “Moondezhuthil Enn Uyirirukku”, “Hello Miss Hello Miss” (Enn Kadaimai), “Velli Nila Muttathile” ( Vettaikaran), “Odum Mehangale” (Aayirathil Oruvan), “ Satti Suttathada Kai Vittathada” (Aalayamani), “ Kann Pona Pokkile Kaal Pogalama” (Panam Padaithavan),

“Oru thai Makkal Naam Eyllam” (Ananda Jyothi), “ Yenge Nimmathi yenge Nimathi” (Pudiya Parvai), “ Ullam Enpathu nAamai” (Paarthal Pasi Theerum), “Pallavan Pallai Padattumey (Kalankarai Vilakkam)

“Aaru maname Aaru, Etdhu Andavan Kattalai Paru” , “Avala Sonnal Erukkadu” “Amma Venuma”; “Annai Ennada”; “Andru Vanthathum Ethey nila”; “Andha Naal Mudhal Endha naal varai”; “Etdho Etho Oru Mayakkam”; “Idhayam Irukkiratha”;

“Kagdithathi Kappal Seithu”; “Kannathil Ennadi Kayam, athu Vanna Kili Seitha Mayam”; “Kase than Kaduvalada, athu Kadavulukkum Theriyumada”; “ Paadinoor Padinaal ada Thonrum”; “Poovilum Melliya Poongodi”; “Pallakku Vanga Ponen”; “annan Kattiya Vazhiyamma”; “Mayakkam Enathu Thayakam”.

“ Kannirandil Mai Ezhuthi”; “Sothanai Mel Sothanai, Podhumada Sami”; “Yarai Nambi Naan Pirandhen, Pongada Pongo”; “Summa Kidantha Nilathai Kuthi” (Nadodi Mannan); “Eri Karai Orathile Etdtu veli Nilamirukku” (ThazhamPoo); “Ippadi Than Irukavenum Pombale” (Vivasaiyi); “Nanga Pudusa Kattikita Jodi Thanungo (Olivilakku); “Masilla Unmai Kathaley” (Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum);

“Chinnunchiru Vaithu Mudal”; “Naan alavidu Iruppavan”; “Idamo Sugamanathu” (Thekdi Vantha Mappilai); “Thottukollava” (Mattukara Velan); “Thairiyamai Sol Nee Manithan Thana”(Oli Vilakku); “Arul Vadivagiya Ambigiye” (Meendum Nee).

Stint in acting

TMS is not only a singer par excellence, he had a brief stint in acting too. Soundararajan had acted in “Kallum Kaniyagom”, “Arunagiri Nathar” and “Pattinathar”.

Such a great singer, it is an irony T M Soundararajan has not received much honors, awards and recognition to match his outstanding contribution to film music. When Music director Lakshman Sruthi came to know of this imbalance, he had organized a great event to shower all the honour he deserved.

It was also on TMS getting his Padma Shri, the National award from the Central government in 2003. TMS was invited for a music performance of Lakshman Sruthi. The king of music was received along with his wife at a distance from the Hall and taken in procession on a bedecked chariot with band and music and was profusely honored on the stage. The chariot was drsiven by noted music director Ganesh of Shankar-Ganesh duo directors.

Union Minister for Fertilizer and South Secretary and eldest son of CM, Mr. M K Alagiri is great fan of TMS. He honoured the singing legend at function exclusively arranged for it.

Soundararajan had also been the Chairman of the Iyal Isai Nataka Mandram of the Tamil Nadu Government for a term. He was recipient of Tamil Nadu’s ‘Kalaimamani’ award.

TMS hails from the Sourashtra community from Madurai. He is a devotee of Lord Subrahmanya (called Lord Muruga in Tamil) and sang many devotional songs on Him. first singer introduce the stereo system to Tamil songs by his "Mannanalum Thiruchenthooril Mannaven" on Lord Muruga.

His sons Balraj and Selvaraj are stage singers.

Gallery – Click on picture to zoom.

- Asian Tribune -

Share this