‘Manini Jaana, Karana Bahana, Mana Mo Mana, Jamuna Jaana, Kadamba Mulare Luchichhi Se Kanha’….. Have you heard about this song from ‘Saakhi Gopinatha’? It was sung by legendary Manna Dey and composed by Ganesh Mohapatra. Music was given by Basudeb Rath. The legend is no more today. He has bid adieu to this world to live in peace in the heaven.
Manna Dey’s demise on October 24, 2013 in Bangalore, has left a huge vacuum in Indian Music, which cannot be filled up. Born as Prabodh Chandra Dey on May 1, 1919 in Kolkata, Manna Dey devoted his entire life to Music. He belonged to the gallery of India’s musical greats such as Muhammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh and Hemant Kumar and lived till the age of 94, which is no less than a miracle for a singer considering the fact that his contemporary singers passed away long ago.
Manna Dey’s great singing ability and humility can be judged by the statement of Mohammad Rafi, who once said, “You listen to my songs and I listen to Manna Dey.” However, Manna always referred Rafi as a better singer than him till the end. This gesture is hardly seen these days when singers fight for money, fame and supremacy. Many Music composers had openly admitted that Manna Dey could sing any song by Kishore, Rafi or Mukesh in the same style as they did.
Manna Dey’s famous songs include ‘Poocho na kaise maine rain bitayi’ (Meri Surat Teri Aankhen), ‘Dil ka haal sune dilwala’ (Mera Naam Joker), ‘Zindagi kaisi hai paheli’ (Aanand), ‘Ae mere pyare watan’ (Kabuliwala), ‘Laaga Chunri me Daag’ (Dil Hi to Hai), and ‘Aaja Sanam Madhur Chandani’ (Chori Chori). He sang in various languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, Punjabi, Magadh, Gujarati, Malayalam, Konkani, Sindhi, Maithilee, Odia, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Assamese etc.
Manna Dey was awarded Padma Shri (1971), Padma Bhushan (2005) and Dadasaheb Phalke (2007). Unfortunately, the Centre did not find it necessary to confer ‘Padma Vibhushan’ on him, which he definitely deserved and may be much more than that for his great service to the Indian Music.
Manna Dey was married to Sulochana Kumaran from Kerala, who died in January 18, 2012. He is survived by two daughters. His illness was first reported on June 8, 2013, when he was admitted to the ICU at a Bangalore hospital. He was taken off the ventilator on July 5. His end came at 4:30 AM on October 24 at Hrudayalaya in Bangalore. An era in Indian Music, came to an end with the demise of Manna Dey.