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Manna Dey - Matchless purity!
By T.M. Anantharaman
BANGALORE, June 20: The first time I heard him was when I heard the duet song “Darti kahe pukar ke” in the 1953 film Do Biga Zamin in tandem with the legendary Lata Mangeshkar. Despite this some vibrant quality in his voice made you sit up and take notice, especially when he sang the soul-stirring “baayi re” in the upper octave, imparting so much of enthralling entreaty to mother Earth. It was one of the most telling musical moments that I have relished every time I have heard this song over the years. The song makes you forget anything else you are doing and compel you to listen to it and enjoy its soulful appeal.

The power
That is the kind of power Manna Dey had whenever he sang and in whatever he sang i.e. be it to convey a romantic mood or savor the lyrical beauty of tingling amulets in a mind-titillating experience or the total dedication and supplication to the Lord or simply the chatty, rumbustious, fun-filled mood or in a genre which most singers shy away from viz matching one’s skill with an acclaimed legendary musician note for note, and emerging with flying colours. That is Manna Dey, a singer par excellence but not given his due because he came at a time when there were other legends too in the same field as he was operating in. Still to be able to carve a niche for himself and provide a rich and variegated fare, Manna Dey did it with great elan and dignity. I have many favourites of this top singer, and I have great pleasure and pride to list them starting from:

1. “Aye meri zohra Jabeen” from 1965 film Waqt, music by Ravi and lyrics by Sahir Ludianvi;
2. “Kaun aaya mere manke dware, paayal geet jankar liye”, from 1957 film Dekh Kabira Roya, music by Madan Mohan and lyrics by Rajinder Kishen;
3. “Baya banjana vandana sun hamare” from 1956 film Basant Bahar, music by Shanker Jaikishen, lyrics Shailendra;
4. “Are Bhai zara dekhe chalo” from 1971 film Mera Nam Joker, music by Shanker Jaikishen, lyrics Neeraj;
5. “Ketaki ghulab juhi champak vana phool” along with legendary Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, from 1956 film Basant Bahar, music by Shanker Jaikishen, lyrics by Shailendra;
6. “Kasme wade pyar wafa” from 1967 film Upkar, music by Kalyanji Anandji, lyrics by Indeevar;
7. “Laga chunhri mein daag” from 1963 film Dil Hi toh Hain, music by Roshan, lyrics Sahir Ludianvi;
8. “Mud mudke na dekh”, with Asha Bhonsle from 1955 film Shree 420, music by Shanker Jaikishen, lyrics by Shailendra;
9. “Tu pyar ka sagar hai” from 1955 film Seema, music by Shanker Jaikishen, lyrics by Shailendra;
10. “Na toh karwaa ki talaash hai” from 1960 film Barsat ki Raat, with Rafi and Asha Bhonsle, music by Roshan, lyrics by Sahir Ludianvi;
11. “Poocho na kaise main ne” from 1963 film Meri Soorat Teri Aankhen, music by S.D. Burman, lyrics by Shailendra;
12. “Preetam daras dikhavo” from 1959 film Chacha Zindabad, music by Madan Mohan, lyrics by Rajinder Kishen;
13. “Pyar hua ek rar hua” with Lata Mangeshkar from 1955 film Shree 420, music by Shanker Jaikishen, lyrics Shailendra;
14. “Re man sur mein gaa” with Asha Bhonsle from 1971 film Lal Pathar, music by Shanker Jaikishen, lyrics Neeraj;
15. “Ritu aaye ritu jaaye sakhi ”, from 1953 film Hamdard, music Anil Biswas, lyrics Prem Dhawan;
16. “Sur na saje kya gavoon mein” from 1956 film Basant Bahar, music by Shanker Jaikishen, lyrics Shailendra.

Then there is Madhushala with Jaidev’s mellow, healing music and rendered with great poise and dignity by Manna Dey. Truly, something to be relished and savoured! It is available in the net as I am sure many more memorable songs of the matchless Manna Dey. May long live his tribe!

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