RIP Manna Dey

MUMBAI: Manna Dey is no more.

The legendary singer, whose golden voice mesmerised audiences for decades, breathed his last early this morning at a Bengaluru hospital, where he had been admitted for respiratory problems for the past few months. He was 94 years old.

Having started his career as a playback singer in the 1943 film Tamanna, Dey has nearly 3,500 songs in languages including Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Malayali, Kannada and Assamese to his credit. The more memorable among these being Pucho Na Kaise, Pyaar Hua Ikraar Hua, Ae Maalik Tere Bande Hum, Kasme Vaade Pyaar Wafa, Ae Meri Johra Jabi, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag and Yaari Hai Imaan to name a few.

For Kailash Kher, Dey was nothing less than an ‘institution’, whose inimitable style of singing influenced many like him to do better in their career

The distinctive timbre and classical bent of Dey’s voice made him a hot favourite among the heroes of the time, not to mention generations of music composers. Not surprisingly, he went on to receive the country’s highest honours – the Padma Shree and Padma Bhushan, among a slew of awards and accolades.

As news spread of his sad demise, the entire film industry was plunged into a state of shock and grief.

One of the first ones to tweet was Amitabh Bachchan, who wrote: “Manna Dey, stalwart of the music world, passes away. Flooded with memories and his songs. In particular his rendition of Madhushala.”

Shabana Azmi too tweeted: “Manna Dey had a unique voice. He will live on through his songs Ai Meri Zohra Jabeen/ dil ka haal suney dilwala/ poocho na kaise maine RIP.”

Not just the industry veterans, even younger artistes and composers fondly remembered the iconic singer.

Speaking to, National Award-winning singer Rekha Bharadwaj said Dey had been an inspiration for almost all those interested in music.

“He had a completely distinctive style. No one can match that. Whether it was Ae Mere Pyaare Watan…, Koi Sagar Dil Ko Behlata Hai…, or Ek Chaturnaar…, he made each of these songs unique in itself with a certain pathos and melody,” said Bharadwaj, who remains a fan of all the songs from the film Anand, still humming them whenever she is in a mood.

Ae Mere Pyaare Watan has been a favourite among almost everybody across all generations,” she said, regretting the fact that she never got a chance to meet Dey in person. “But people like Kavita Krishnamoorthy and Suresh Wadekar kept me abreast about him and also shared many anecdotes. It’s nice to know all that,” she said.

For Kailash Kher, Dey was nothing less than an ‘institution’, whose inimitable style of singing influenced many like him to do better in their career.

“He is an inspiration. He has left so much behind him for generations to come,” Kher said, recalling how as a teenager, he never knew who had sung his favourite song, Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli…, till he discovered through a magazine interview that it was none other than Dey, and became an ardent fan since.

“I had read this interview sometime in the 90s and was in awe of the singer after reading everything about him. He sung a comic song or a peppy number with as much ease as he sung an emotional song,” said Kher, also referring to the fact that Dey lent his voice not only to the Hindi film industry but also to many other languages and genres.

Shibani Kashyap thinks Dey had the ‘most unusual voice’. “I cry when I listen to the songs from Anand. Very few singers have the power to move you to tears. He is iconic. And though he is not around us any more, his songs will always keep him alive. The songs that he has sung are out of the world and they will continue to enthuse younger generations of aspiring singers and musicians,” said Kashyap, ruing the fact that he wasn’t celebrated as much as he should have been. “He hasn’t got the due that he should have. We let him leave the industry too soon. I just wish his songs stay with us forever,” she concluded.

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