In memory: Manna Dey's musical journey

Who can forget the melodious songs like ‘Chalat Musafir’ or ‘Laga Chunari Me Daag’, which always used to have a sweet touch of classical music? A man who epitomized classical music and who never got allured by main stream and commercial singing is no more with us. He not only enlightened Hindi playback singing, but he gave his voice to playback singing of various other languages like Bengali, Gujrati, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada and Assamese. But his focus and his dedication for classical music will always remind us of a great musician, singer and composer, Manna Dey.

Manna Dey was born on May 1st 1919 in Kolkata as Prabodh Chandra Dey. Manna Dey was his stage name. He has sung over 3500 songs in various languages. He started his career as a playback singer in 1943. ‘Tamanna’ was his first movie as a playback singer. He sang a duet with Suraiya for this movie. Then till 1950 he didn’t get a chance to sing solo. In 950, in ‘Mashal’, he sang a solo composed by Sachin Dev Burban. The song was ‘Upar Gagan Vishal’. The song was an instant hit. In 1952, he sang for a Bengali movie, which gave him much recognition as a budding Bengali singer.

Gradually Manna Dey was an established playback singer who was given songs which had classical base. He sang some of the most difficult classical based songs like ‘Poocho Na Kaise Maine’, ‘Yeh Raat Bheegi Bheegi' and ‘Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli’.

Slowly he started getting only classical based songs. This somewhat restricted his career growth. He sang a number of patriotic and devotional songs. Manna Dey also sang duet with Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle , Rafi and Kishore Kumar. He also lent his voice to Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s famous composition, Madhushala.

Manna Dey was awarded with Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. He left singing for movies in 1990’s. His last sang in 1991 for ‘Prahaar’. For quite some time Manna Dey was staying with his family in Bangalore. His wife passed away last year. He is survived with two daughters. At the age of 94, Manna Dey died in Bangalore on 24th October after a prolonged illness

Manna Dey had received a number of awards from government of various states. Being a versatile singer, he was also a veteran of Rabindra Sangeet. His innumerable contributions to Indian music will always be remembered.