Anecdotes Mani Iyer tidbits

Mani Iyer and M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar

Recently I came to know that Vishnu Sir’s friend had a site on M.K.T, and with Vishnu sir associated with it I knew it would have at least couple of lines about Mani Iyer in it. Sure enough, I found it. Visit the site for a more comprehensive info on M.K.T.

You can understand that M.K.T’s peers regarded him as good a carnatic musician as any other stalwart of his era.

Thiruvengadu Jayaraman who was closely associated with Madurai Mani Iyer from 1949 till the demise of the latter in 1968, recalled that Mani Iyer would hear a lot of radio concerts, including MKT’s concerts. Jayaraman remarked that Mani Iyer has lavishly praised MKT for his adaptability to any style of music and Gurubhakti. He has also recollected that MKT has visited Mani Iyer’s concerts and both of them have had discussions at the end. Once at the end of a radio broadcast, somebody criticised MKT’s and T R Mahalingam’s music in the presence of Mani Iyer. Mani Iyer, who was not known to lose temper too often, quipped ‘Are the thousands of people who come to listen to Thyagaraja Bhagavathar mad ?’. Mani Iyer, on a different occasion, remarked ‘Thyagaraja Bhagavathar paattula oru gouravam irukku, mariyaatha irukku’. ‘Gouravam’ and ‘Mariyatha’ are, his fans say, the laudatory words which Mani iyer often used.
Another close associate of Mani Iyer, Late Sri Ananthanarayana Iyer of Golden Rock has often recollected that Mani Iyer did hesitate for a long time to sing Eppo Varuvaaro after the release of Sathvaguna bothan. Mani Iyer said ‘Thyagaraja Bhagavathar ennamaa paadi irukkaar paathela, enakku paadave thona maattengarathu’. This is not only a tribute to MKT’s singing but also shows the innate humity of the venerable Mani Iyer. 
Few points to be noted: Sri Ananthanarayana Iyer mentioned here is Vishnu sir’s Grandfather and he was a very close friend of Mani Iyer, and Sathvaguna bothan sung by M.K.T was adapted from ‘eppo varuvaro’ in Jonpuri popularized by Mani Iyer (has the same ‘eppo varuvaro’ tune from start to end).



Anecdotes Tributes

Mani Iyer at Calcutta, courtesy

This Tribute cum anecdote was found courtesy of Goplalam Karamchedu sir’s Blog Lokabhiramam. It was written by Sri Thiagarajan Rathakrishnan. Here it goes,

Tribute to the late madurai mani iyer

By Sri Thiagarajan Rathakrishnan

 I have had the privilege and pleasure to get acquainted with the late Madurai Mani iyer . I wish to record my great respect and regards for him through your site.

My wife kamala thiagarajan and I were in Calcutta from 1952 to 1969. We had a friend and a well wisher the late n viswnathan of the Calcutta electric supply corporation, he and his wife were also a distant relation to us.

The late madurai mani iyer whenever he came to Calcutta for concerts, he was the honored guest of viswanathan. In one of his visits my wife and i were introduced to him. The first words mani iyer said was that nannu palimpa by my wife on veena in the all India radio concert was good. It was indeed a great complement. He said he keeps on the radio on throughout the day, and listens to the concerts, irrespective of the grade of the artistes.

He had come to Calcutta for a concert on 27.10.1962. We met him as usual. We were however very much disturbed to see him shivering in the cold. That was the beginning of the winter in the north. We suggested he must have a razaai and offered to get him one.. It was a Sunday. Most of the shops were closed. We went round bhowanipur and found a shop open. We got a razaai, though not a very good one, and gave it to mani iyer. I cannot express in words in words how he felt comfortable in the razaai. He thanked us so much. In the evening he was on the stage with his razaai on. He called it a razaai kachcheri. He did not stop with that. He sang kamalambike in thodi and thyagarajaya namaste in begada. A great tribute indeed to us. I had the recordings of the concert kindly presented to us by viswanathan. And I preserve them even to day..

We used to visit him often in Chennai. He was an excellent conversationalist. He narrated several of his experiences. We became good friends with his mother, sisters and the late vembu iyer. i am not competent to speak on his concerts, but the one I remember is his concert in the sai baba temple in alamelumangapuram, next to our house, during the navarathri festival. The entire place was full with no space to move about. What is more inportant was the people of the poorest section (from the slums if I may call it) had gathered to listen to him in pin drop silence. He sang a ragam tanam pallavi – gandhi mahan vazhi nadappom – in shanmukhapriya. A superb one. I believe this one is in sangeethapriya. In one of his concerts in calcutta I requested him to sing shanta muleka in sama. He said I must hear it from alattur but he did swaraprasthara in the pallavi..

I can write more. But I do not want to take your space. May his soul rest in peace.

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Dr.T.K. Murthy’s recollections of a Mani Iyer concert

The concert venue was Palani temple. Sri. Chowdiah was the violinist whereas Dr.T.K. Murthy was the with the Mridangam. Mani Iyer started to sing Intha Paramugam in Raga Purvikalyani. At one point in the song when Mani Iyer started to sing in the higher octave, Sri.Chowdiah stopped accompanying and simply put down the violin. When Mani Iyer asked the veteran violinist why he was not playing, Chowdiah’s reply was “Naan Vaasichu Kedukka Vendaame nu thaan” ( Translation: I do not want to spoil it by playing my violin).  According to Dr. T.K. Murthy, The Shadjamam sang by Mani Iyer that day continues to reverberate in his mind to this day.

Also According to Dr.T.K. Murthy, Mani Iyer was the only artiste in his time to sing the Raga Prathapavarali (Song: Vinanasokoni ).


Raining Mohanam, by Kapali

It was in the year 1961 or so. The occasion was MMI kutcheri at the Ramanavami festival at Seshadripuram , Bangalore. MMI was accompanied by Lalgudi and Palani Subramania Pillai. After about 90 mts  well in to the concert , MMI was midway  in the alapana for Mohanam when there was a sudden outburst of  summer thunderstorm rain with strong gusty winds resulting in abrupt failure of electricity. There was pitch darkness in the concert pandal and the huge crowd waited patiently with pin drop silence . Rainwater started seeping under the stage where the artists were performing. Silently the organizers and volunteers shifted the whole stage in the darkness to a farther away location free from the rain water seepage. Fortunately the whole carpet area where the listeners were seated was free from the water leakage. Miraculously, the rain and storm subsided completely after 20 mts and power also was restored immediately to the relief of one and all and the audience could scarcely believe how the entire stage was shifted to another remote area in the pandal in the darkness. MMI resumed the finishing touches  of the alapana of Mohanam  and later on sang a sublime  ‘Nanupalimpa’ in his inimitable style. MMI was in fine mettle and when the memorable concert was about to end late in the night the president of the Ramaseva Samithi in his address said ” What we heard today is not normal Sangeetham but Devamrutha Sangeetham” !


High praise from Mudikondan Venkatarama Iyer, by Gopalan Natarajan

I learnt Carnatic music under Srivanchiyam Ramachandra Iyer in the late 80s and he once narrated me a story that he witnessed while with his guru,the legendary Mudikondan Venkatrama Iyer. This was sometime in the 40s. MMI was slated for a concert in a temple town. Sri Venkatrama Iyer had completed his concert in the evening and was waiting to hear MMI whose slot was at the usual 8pm. As MMI sat down on the stage and was getting ready to start he noticed Mudikondan in the front row and immediately bowed his head and said to him “Periava (i.e. Mudikondan) is sitting in the audience, pl forgive if I make any mistake in my concert”. Pat came Mudikondan’s reply – “nee ovvaru swarathilayum samadhi adayaravan – eppadi pezhagu vara mudiyum – nee bhesha padu Mani” meaning ” you attain bliss in every swara – how can you ever make a mistake – you rock on”. So true were these words about Mani Iyer’s inimitable style and his shruthishuddam – which remains unparalleled to date.