Manna Dey sings for Prasar Bharati's archival collections

NEW DELHI: Age has not withered his voice or affected his sense of humour. And though the grey lines are beginning to show, legendary playback singer Manna Dey still shows the same enthusiasm while performing that he had been popular for two decades ago.

Expectedly, he left the audience entranced as he sang some his most popular numbers here last night at a concert organised by Doordarshan. The entire performance was recorded by Doordarshan for telecast and for being converted with CDs and VCDs as part of the archival collection of Prasar Bharati.

Apart from the singer, the evening also saw the recitation of poetry by well-known lyricist Gopal Das Neeraj who in fact has also written some of the songs that the 86-year old Manna Dey sang.

The singer obliged by singing some of Neeraj's lyrics, including 'aye bhai, zaraa Dekh ke chalo' from the film 'Mera Naam Joker' made by probably the best showman of Indian cinema, Raj Kapoor, and 'Aie mere pyaare watan, aie mere bichchde chaman' from 'Kabuliwala' based on the story by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and 'Poochho na kaise maine ran bitaayi'. Both Manna Dey and Neeraj received the National Awards for this song from 'Mera Naam Joker'.

The maestro chose to pick his own songs, and though he had a book in front of him with the lyrics written in them, he seldom had need to look down as he got carried away and the words came on their own from the corners of memory.

Other songs rendered by Manna Dey included 'Umarya Katti Jaye', 'Phul Gendwa Na maaro', 'Jeevan se lambe hain jeevan ke raste', 'Ai meri Zohra Zabeen tujhe maloom nahin', and so many others including a Bengali song inspired by a famous coffee house in Kolkata which used to be frequented by artistes and filmmakers like Satyajit Ray.

He also sang a composition of his favourite music director S D Burman-- 'Piya Maine Kya kiya, hame chhodh ke jayyo na' and a few verses from 'Madhushala' composed by Harivansh Rai Bachchan.

He was accompanied on the tabla by Indranath Mukherji, Richard Mitra on electric guitar and Mahendra Gokhale on keyboard.

Manna Dey 's soulmate and ''inspiration'' of his art Sulochana was also among the audience.Earlier, CEO Prasar Bharati BS Lalli welcomed Manna Dey with a bouquet of flowers and presented him a shawl. Senior officials of Doordarshan and All India Radio were also present.

Born in 1920 in Kolkata, Manna day learnt the basic nuances of singing from his uncle Krishna Chandra Day and Ustad Dabir Khan. Later, when he came to Mumbai in 1942, he perfected his art under the tutelage of Sachin Dev Burman and under two stalwarts, Ustad Aman Ali Khan and Ustad Abdul Rahman Khan.

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