B.H.Harsh wrote on 11 Aug 2008
Manna Dey was born on May 1, 1919 in Kolkata. He finished his schooling from Scottish church Collegiate school, and then went to Scottish Church for graduation. In college, Manna Dey won many inter-collegiate competitions and started taking singing lessons. In 1942, Manna dey came to Bombay and started working as an assistant to his brother and then S.D. Burman.
Manna Dey soon started working as an individual composer. His first stint as a play back singer was in the film Tamanna (1943). His song "Upar gagan vishal" for film Mashaal (1950) became very popular. This song established Manna dey as a talented singer.
Manna dey proved his versitality for the next two decades. He sang slow, romantic and dance numbers with equal ease. A few of romantic numbers by Manna dey are "Pyaar hua ikraar hua" (Shri 420), "Aaja sanam" (Chori chori), "Yeh raat bheegi bheegi" (Chori chori). One of the most popular songs by Manna Dey was "Ae Meri Johra Zabeen" (Waqt) picturised on Balraj Sahni which is remembered and cherished till date. He also sang some hit songs for Mehmood like Aao twist karein (Bhoot Bungla), O Meri Maina (Pyaar kiye jaa) and Ek chatur naar (Padosan). He was also a great classical Singer. Infact, He was one singer who blended classical music with pop music and came up with some great numbers. He also recorded many classical songs, Ketaki Gulab Jahe with Bhimsen Joshi being the most praised and acclaimed of them all.
Although Manna dey was never the numero uno singer, He had a place for his own in the hindi film music. Even in the 70s which was ruled by Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey came up with some memorable songs like “Ae Bhai zaraa dekh ke chalo” (Mera Naam Joker), “Zindagi Kaisi yeh paheli” (Anand), “Yaari hai imaan mera” (Zanzeer), “Ye Dosti” (Sholay) and many more. With the late 70s, Manna Dey cut down on his work hugely as he saw the coming of a new age in hindi film music. The last film he sang for was Nana Patekar’s Prahaar (1990).
Manna Dey is currently living a peaceful life in Mumbai.
Manna Dey has won National Award on 2 occasions – for a bengali film Nishipadma in 1970 and for Mera Naam Joker in 1971. He was also awarded the Padmabhushan in 2005. The Padmadress was also conferred upon him later.
Manna Dey married Sulochana Kumaran and has two daughters from her, Sumita and Suroma. Besides hindi films, Manna Dey was one of the eminent playback singers in Bengali films too.