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).