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 http://raja1630.tripod.com/ 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).
There was this post on YouTube by Sri. Yesh Prabhu who apparently had been learning under Sri. T.N. Bala for many years. In this post, he mentions how T.N. Bala became Mani Iyer’s disciple. I will simply quote his post here.
“I am so happy to see that Sri Madurai Mani Iyer is respected and so revered even now, after all these years of his passing away. (He passed away on June 8, 1968). Sri Mani Iyer was my guru’s guru. My guru, the late Sri T N Bala (composer of the famous kriti Vilaiyada idu nerama? in Shanmukhapriya raga), was a very senior disciple of Sri MMI. My guru told me how he was chosen by Sri MMI to be his shishya: Sri MMI was sitting in his yard one Sunday morning, listening to Madras AIR. Two young boys were singing Shree Muthuswami Dikshitar’s kriti Surya murthe in Sowrashtra raga. Impressed, he called the radio station to find out who the boys were, and was astonished that the boys were the sons of his neighbor across the street. He then approached their father to express his wish to teach the boys. Their father was only too happy, of course, and consented. Occasionally, after my lesson, Sri Bala sang for me, imitating Sri MMI’s voice, a Navagraha kriti or a Navaavarana kiti. It was as if Sri MMI sat in front of me and sang; and it was an amazing experience! I have learnt Carnatic vocal from Sri T N Bala for more than 29 years. YeshPrabhu, Bushkill, Pennsylvania “
After Gandhiji’s death, Mani Iyer asked his good friend ‘Chitti’ to compose a song on the Mahatma. Chitti obliged and composed the following song, which was often sung by Mani Iyer in the raga Shanmugapriya. Madurai Mani Iyer was an ardent follower of the Mahatma and was called “Gandhi” by his close associates.
Source: Pasupathy sir’s blog, source link : http://s-pasupathy.blogspot.in/2016/10/96_25.html
Mani Iyer was awarded the “Ganakaladhara” title in 1943. Here is a report from the newspaper “Swadesamitharan” covering it. Published on 26-12-1943.
Here is an advertisement for Mani Iyer’s new LP records released during 1948. Published in the 1948 edition of “Vellimani”.