The paper describes a modular, unit selection based TTS framework, which can be used as a research bed for developing TTS in any new language, as well as studying the effect of changing any parameter during synthesis. Using this framework, TTS has been developed for Tamil. Synthesis database consists of 1027 phonetically rich prerecorded sentences. This framework has already been tested for Kannada. Our TTS synthesizes intelligible and acceptably natural speech, as supported by high mean opinion scores. The framework is further optimized to suit embedded applications like mobiles and PDAs. We compressed the synthesis speech database with standard speech compression algorithms used in commercial GSM phones and evaluated the quality of the resultant synthesized sentences. Even with a highly compressed database, the synthesized output is perceptually close to that with uncompressed database. Through experiments, we explored the ambiguities in human perception when listening to Tamil phones and syllables uttered in isolation, thus proposing to exploit the misperception to substitute for missing phone contexts in the database. Listening experiments have been conducted on sentences synthesized by deliberately replacing phones with their confused ones.