After the morning ablutions, booted my computer and understood the reason for my melancholy immediately. My friend Rohan Joshi from Bangalore had sent some bad news -- "Manna Dey no more".
I immediately rushed to the T V with the forlorn hope that the news may be false. But this rarely happens. The News channel confirmed the news.
The mind went into a turmoil. All the images of this gentleman of gentlemen flashed through the mind.
Manna Dey aka Prabodhchandra Dey, who made his début as a playback singer in 'Tamanna' in 1942, was a worthy nephew of a great singer Kishen Chandra Dey (more popularly known as K C Dey).
|Manna Dey with his uncle K. C. Dey|
He sang with Meena Kapoor, Suraiya, Umadevi (Tun Tun), Rajkumari and many others, including many solo songs. He sang for Anil Biswas, Jaffer Khurshid, Pandit Indra and others. Then in 1950, he sang for 'Mashaal', under the tutelage of Sachin Dev Burman, the famous "Upar gagan vishal". This made him a household name all over India.
There was no looking back after that. Manna Dey was sought after by all composers - Anil Biswas, Khemchand Prakash, S K Pal, Shankarro Vyas, S D Burman, and others.
In 1952 he sang for a Marathi and Bengali movie by the same name - 'Amar Bhupali' which again became an instant hit.
|Manna Dey with Salil Choudhary|
However his association with Raj Kapoor and Shankar-Jaikishen which began during 'Awara' [remember-'Tere bina aag ye chandani'] took him to another level with 'Boot Polish' in 1954. Thereafter Shankar-Jaikishen / Raj Kapoor / Manna Dey worked together in many films, Shree 420, Chori Chori to name a few.
He also sang for New Music Directors of the 60's Kalyanji-Anandji, Laxmikant-Pyarelal and R D Burman [who made him sing westernised tune songs - AaoTwist kare and Pyar karta ja].
Can we ever forget Manna Dey songs like "Lapak Jhapak Tu Aa Re" from Boot Polish(1954), Tu Pyar Ka Sagar Hai" from Seema(1955), "Yeh Kahani Hai Diye Aur Toofan Ki" from Toofan Aur Diya (1956) composed by Vasant Desai, "Humdum Se Gaye" from Manzil (1960), "Aye Mere Pyare Watan" from Kabuliwala (1961), "Laga Chunari Mein Daag" from Dil Hi Toh Hai (1963), classical songs like "Sur Na Saje" from Basant Bahar (1956), "Kaun Aya Mere Mann" from Dekh Kabira Roya (1957), "Pucho Na Kaise Maine Rain" from Meri Surat Teri Aankhen (1963), "Jhanak Jhanak Tore Baje Payalia" from Mere Huzoor (1965); folk based songs like "Kisi Chilman Se" from Baat Ek Raat Ki (1962), "Ae Meri Zohra Jabeen" from Waqt (1965), "Chalat Musafir Moh Liya" from Teesri Kasam (1967), "Aao Aao Sawariya", and duets with Lata like "Masti Bhara Yeh Sama" from Parvarish(1958), "Nain Mile Chain Kahan" from Basant Bahar (1956), "Kehdoji Kehdo Chupaona Pyar" from Kismat Ka Khel (1956), "Tum Gagan Ke Chandrama" from Sati Savitri (1964), "Dil Ki Girah" from Raat Aur Din (1966), "Chunari Sambhal Gori" from Baharon Ke Sapne in 1967, were chartbusters in their respective year of release. Manna Dey must be given credit for popularising classical based solo and duet songs to the masses like the duet with Lata – "Pritam Daras Dikhao" from Chacha Zindabad . His rendition of "Kasame Vaade Pyar" from Upkar (1967) pictured on Pran and composed by Kalyanji Anandji won accolades for Dey. It was also significant in Pran’s career as he began to do positive roles after Upkaar.
|Manna Dey with his wife|
Manna Dey got a fresh lease of life when Rajesh Khanna asked music composers to record some songs in his voice to be picturized on him- Anand, Bawarchi are examples of this.
He received the Dadasaheb Phalke award from President Pratibha Patil. He was also the recepient of Padmashri and Padmabhushan awards earlier
This is not an attempt to cover the entire life of Mannada. It is beyond my capacity. I have just tried to highlight a few of his many achievements.