RMIM Archive Article "136".
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
# RMIM Archives..
# Subject: Manna Dey
# Posted by: Satish Subramanian (firstname.lastname@example.org) - part 1
# email@example.com (Pradeep Dubey) - part 2
# Source: Compiled from some posts on RMIM.
From the RMIM Article Archive maintained by Satish Subramanian
Manna Dey - Some more info. - Part 1
by Satish Subramanian
> Down Memory Lane
> In Bombay, Mannada started off as assistant to music director
Manna did a lot of music direction earlier in his career. He was
almost exactly following his uncle K.C.Dey's footsteps, who was a
pioneer in Hindi film music direction (in early 30s when talkies
Some of the music that Manna gave were with other well known MDs.
He is credited along with H.P.Das for Dev Anand's "Hum Bhi Insaan
Hain" (1948). With Khemchand Prakash he gave "Jaan Pehchan"
(1950), "Shree Ganesh Janma" (1951), and "Tamasha" (1952). And
with Vyas he had "Maha Puja" (1954).
> "I even thought of going back to Calcutta and doing my law," he
> added. However,"Upar gagan vishaal" the marching song from Mashaal,
> which Manna-da sang with great gusto, turned into a super hit.
The above song, mentioned in the article, from "Mashaal" was
probably Manna Dey's own. He is credited for the music of
"Mashaal" (1950) along with S.D.Burman.
Manna Dey alone had a handful of movies as a MD. Chamkee (52),
Naina (53), Shuk Rambha (53), Shiv Kanya (54), Jai Mahadev (55),
Gauri Puja (56), and Naag Champa (58) were some of them. These
are obviously not as famous as, say Hemant Kumar's compositions.
(also did some music in 70s: Sonal (1973))
So in 40s he spent mostly learning, 50s making music, and in 60s
mainly singing. In the 60s the MDs who gave him great songs were
mostly Roshan ('ishq ishq ishq' (Barsaat Ki Raat), 'laaga chunri
mein daag' (Dil hi to hai), S.D.Burman ('tere naina taalash'
(Talash),'poochho na kaise maine' (Meri Surat Teri Ankhen), SJ
('chalat musaafir' (Teesri Kasam), 'dil ka haal sune dil waala'
(Shree 420)) and Salil ('jaane waale sipahi se poochu' (Usne Kaha
Tha), 'zindagi kaise hain paheli (Anand), 'ae mere pyare watan'
During the recording of the song from "Kabuliwaala", 'ae mere
pyaare watan', Manna started singing the song in a very low voice
and producing a hollow effect in his voice; esp. in the lines
"tuu hii merii aarazuu, tuu hii merii aabaruu". Salil immediate-
ly stopped recording and asked him "What happened to your voice?
If you are not well we can record later." But Manna convinced
Salil that this song needs to be recorded that way. Salil
agreed. That rendering went very well with the desert scene pic-
turization and the mood of the song in the film. And this song
was rated on RMIM to be a very difficult number to vocally repro-
duce because of the emotion-filled rendering by Manna Dey.
Salil took Manna Dey to Malayalam films as well. And Manna's
"Chemmeen" songs are still as popular as some of Yesudas's songs
in Malayalam films.
> Mannada won his Filmfare award for "Ae bhai zara dekh ke chalo", the
> toe-tapping number, a Shankar composition, from Raj Kapoor's Mera
> Naam Joker.
Manna used to wonder why he didn't get awards for the songs he
put in a lot of effort. He used to ask people what it takes to
get one? Finally he got one for "Dil Hi To Hai". Yup, the same
one which could 'win you inter-college singing contests' -
Roshan's "laaga chunri mein daag". But as it was a semi-classical
number Manna didn't quite like the idea of getting the award for
this song. He felt he will be slotted as a classical singer.
Also he felt he had put in many more greater efforts before this
He didn't get that many offers as many of his contemporaries. So
when after a long time he was called by Raj Kapoor to sing for
his "Mera Naam Joker", he was thrilled! But that was short-
lived. When he saw he was going to sing "ai bhai zara dekh
ke chalo" he felt dejected. He thought it was a weird song. He
said in an interview, "What kind of a song was it - 'aage hi
nahin, peechche bhi, baayen bhi, baayen bhi nahin daayen bhi'?
and it didn't stop there, it went on 'upar hi nahi, neeche bhi'!"
But he went ahead and recorded that half-heartedly. Imagine his
surprise and amusement when landed up with a Filmfare award for
that! When he thought he deserved awards he didn't get them, but
he got them when he least expected or bothered. It is not that
he was dying to get an award, but the appreciation, or lack of
it, for his efforts did affect the artist in him.
> Belated recognition or the low trajectory of his career graph
> hardly bother Mannada. "I have no regrets, no complaints," he as-
But he hated being slotted as a classical and semi-classical
singer. He didn't even consider the songs that he sung as
"semi-classical", he preferred to call them "half classical", be-
cause, he said, the tunes for those songs usually start-off as
normal song and then suddenly they go into "sa re ga ma"s (what
does one call these?). Infact in most of the cases Manna used to
reduce the length of these "sa re ga"s during recording than what
the MDs expected him to sing. Probably it was because of his
disgust at the 'misuse' of classical music.
If you consider his singing, he was the only match for Rafi in all
those memorable qawaalis. Many have sung qawaalis with Rafi but
none of them could give Rafi the kind of 'competition' that Manna
gave, which brought out the best in both of them. Take for in-
stance the qawaali that was discussed on RMIM - "waaqif hoon
khoob ishq ke tarz-e-bayaan se main". This is a treat to the
listeners, with Rafi and Manna trying to get a step ahead of each
other. The words Roshan-Manna-Rafi-Sahir can intoxicate any
Manna was overrated, rightly so, but under-used. He was called
when songs were required for elder actors (Ashok Kumar, Balraj
Sahni), or for background songs, or for classical/difficult
numbers. Every other singer had films in which they sang almost
all the songs, but in the case of Manna that was something very
rare. Talat, Hemant, even Mahendra Kapoor had atleast one com-
plete film to their credit, but not Manna.
Manna Dey - Some more info. - Part 2
by Pradeep Dubey
Just my 2 cents on Manna Dey's 75th anniversary. Doordarshan
(last Thu) had a special hour-long documentary on Manna Dey.
Here are some pieces that I can recall:
a) It seems when RDB first proposed the "paDosan" song (ek chatur
naar) to Manna Dey, and told him he would be losing to Kishore in
a some convincing and he reluctantly agreed but after hearing
Kishore sing, Manna Dey had no regrets and had all praise for KK.
b) Manna Dey went on to add how the opposite happened and in
"Basant Bahar" he was to win a classical competetion against
Bhimsen Joshi (?). He added the BhimsenJi was forced to under-
perform to make him win.
c) Shammi K mentioned how once it was suddenly decided that a
song was needed in one of his movies (I forget the name). For
some reason, they needed to get the song done in couple of days,
and Shankar J (?) suggested contacting Manna D. They got togeth-
er with lyricist (Hasart J ?) and the song was completed in time
to their surprise: meri bhains ko dandaa kyun maara ...
d) The documentary had a very nice Manna D song from Rajashree
pictures' Saudagar (Amitabh-Nutan), and the end Manna D mentioned
he still regularly sings and was seen singing this song with
tears flowing down his cheeks !!
e) His wife was also interviewed, who is a Keralite (Sulochana