Legendary playback singer Manna Dey blended poetry and melody in such a way that no one else in Indian cinema had ever done. Be it Rabindra Sangeet, memorable Bengali songs or Bollywood’s most pop retro numbers, his versatile genius can be seen in each and every tune he lent his voice. He is best known for infusing Indian classical music with pop influences and recorded almost 4000 songs throughout an illustrious career before he breathed his last on 0ctober 24, 2013. On the legendary singer’s death anniversary, here’s a look at some lesser known facts about Manna Dey.
First singing lessons:
Manna Dey’s (original name Probodh Chandra Dey) singing talent came into limelight when he was studying at Scottish Church College. Later his first singing lessons came from his uncle Krishna Chandra Dey along with Ustad Dabir Khan. Known as the man with the golden voice, his contributions to the world of Indian music will always be remembered. Apart from music, he had interest in boxing and wrestling also. He was even popular during school days for the pranks he used to mastermind but it was his school days when he realised his passion for singing among other extra curricular activities.
Manna Dey was introduced as a playback singer for the first time in the film ‘Tamanna’ in 1943. The music was composed by his uncle Krishna Chandra Dey and he partnered with another iconic playback singer Suraiya to deliver a wonderful duet. The entire nation was moved by this song and the rest was a fairytale as Manna Dey became a household name delivering hits after hits including Bengali classics like ‘Se Amar Chhoto Bon’, ‘Coffee Houser Sei Addata’, ‘Ami Je Jalsaghare’, ‘Emon Bondhu Aar Ke Aache’, ‘O Chand Samle Rakho’ and many more.
What Rafi said about Manna Dey:
Mohammad Rafi had once admitted that though the whole world is crazy about his songs, he only listens to the one and only Manna Dey’s songs. Such was the admiration they shared with each other! His golden era in the Hindi playback arena was 1953-1976. It was perhaps the time when almost every male star used to enjoy his signature playback voice – Mohammed Rafi for Dilip Kumar, Kishore Kumar for Rajesh Khanna, Mukesh for Raj Kapoor and so on. It was Manna Dey who broke the tradition and lent his voice to a number of actors, be it Balraj Sahni, Mehmood, Raj Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Raj Kumar or Dharmendra in Bollywood and Uttam Kuamer to Soumitra Chatterjee in Bengali cinema.
Manna Dey-Kishore Kumar duet:
Manna Dey’s association with Kishore Kumar worked wonders. He gave two immensely popular songs with Kishore Kumar ‘Yeh dosti’ from ‘Sholay’ and ‘Ek chatur naar’ from ‘Padosan’. Throughout his career, the Manna Dey delivered songs with a range of emotions; from philosophical, romantic to the tragic ones. However, his most enchanting numbers are those which used to bring a lot of joy. He appeared as a free ranging soul, unafraid, charming, with sparkling wit. From ‘Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh’ in Shree 420 (1955) to the evergreen promise of friendship in ‘Yeh Dosti’, the music maestro reflects a sense of happiness, contentment that is quite pleasing.
His autobiography titled ‘Jiboner Jalsaghorey’ was published by renowned Ananda Publisher in 2005 which was later translated to English as ‘Memories Come Alive’, in Hindi as ‘Yaden Jee Uthi’ and in Marathi as ‘Jiboner Jalsaghorey’. Music director Kalyanji once said in an interview the Indian music industry never witnessed an educated singer like Manna Dey before. The way he would sing a typical film song while adding all nuances of classical music, thumri and ghazal; the art of singing began to reach all sections of the society through commercial Hindi films.
Big fan of Rajesh Khanna:
Manna Dey was a huge admirer of Bollywood icon Rajesh Khanna. “I loved the way he used to make the music sync with the picture. The success of a song always depends on an actor’s potential to picturise it and Rajesh Khanna was the number one in this regard. Frankly speaking, I will be indebted to him,” the legendary singer once said while speaking about the first superstar of India. The list of his memorable hits will be incomplete without ‘Zindagi, kaisi hai paheli haye’. You can never say if it’s happy or sad. Except that the film is the all-time great ‘Anand’, and eventually marked the rise of Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan as India’s greatest acting talents.
Honoured with so many awards:
To honour his lifelong contribution to Indian Music Manna Dey was awarded Padma Shri in 1971. He was then conferred Padma Bhushan in 2005 and lastly in 2007 he was honoured with the Dadashaheb Phalke award and in 2011 Banga Vibhushan by the West Bengal Government. Apart from these, he was honoured with so many awards for his extraordinary contribution to Indian cinema.
5 superhit songs of manna dey:
- ‘Pyaar Hua Ikraar Hua’ – film ‘Shree 420’ (1955)
- ‘Aaja Sanam’ – film ‘Chori Chori’ (1956)
- ‘Ae Meri Johra Jabeen’ – film ‘Waqt’ (1965)
- ‘Jhanak-Jhanak Tori Baje Payaliya’ – ‘Mere Huzoor’ (1968)
- ‘Yeh Dosti’ – film ‘Sholay’ (1975)