Be it ghazals, bhajans, classicals, soft romantic numbers, bhangra, duets, nazms, and high-pitched fast numbers, there was only one name for it, Mohammad Rafi, the legendary singer, whose voice waved in the minds of musical lovers ever since the forties. Mohammad Rafi, one of the legends of the historical Hindi Film Industry still has his impact on the music lovers. His voice continues to haunt us even today. After all, he has left behind a rich legacy of songs sung by him over 35 years.
In 1948, after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the team of Husanlal Bhagatram-Rajendra Krishan-Rafi had overnight created the immortal song ‘Suno suno ae duniyawalon, Bapuji ki amar kahani…’, which became a national rage. Mohammad Rafi became a household name.
Kundan Lal Saigal was the pioneering singer of Hindi film music. He also popularised Ghazals in India. In the span of 15 years, Saigalsaab had acted in 36 films and rendered over 200 songs. A niche craved by the legend with his unique voice. The admirable part of Saigalsaab was that despite super-stardom, K.L. Saigal remained a simple man.
Saigal created history with Devdaas - based on Bengali writer Sharadchandra Chaterjee's novel released in 1935. People all over heard Songs Balam Aao Baso Morey Man Mein and Dukh Ke Ab Din Bitat Nahi.
Kundan Lal Saigal was born in Jhammu in Kashmir. His father Amarchand Saigal was employed with Maharaja Pratap Singh. K. L. Saigal was an Arian by birth born on 12th April 1904. At the age of twelve Saigalsaab gave a rendition of Meera Bahjan in the court of Pratap Singh's court. The Maharaja was impressed and predicted that Saigal had a bright singing future. In Jalhandar, Saigal learnt to sing in Punjabi style. Surprisingly Saigalsaab did not undergo any formal training. The legend however wished to be Ustaad Faiyyaz Khan's student over which Saigal received the compliment of his life. After listening to K.L. Saigal sing, Khan Saheb later said "I have no knowledge with me to make you a better singer than you are." At the age of 13 Saigal realised that his voice was cracking. So shocked was the intense singer that he remained silent for many months. A worried family took Saigalsaab to a saint who advised him to practice and cultivate his voice. He did as advised by the saint singlemindedly for three years. Due to which, he was able to attain a difference in tone and texture of notes. Before his resplendent super-stardom, Saigal was a clerk in Railways and later he became a Hotel Manager, thereafter took up a job with Remington Typewriter Co. for Rs. 80/- a month. Saigal was introduced to music due to his mother. When he went to Calcutta to become a singer in films, Rai Chand Bhoral assayed his voice and he sang Jhoola Na Jhulao Ri. K. C. Dey, the renowned playback singer was in the adjoining room overheard Saigal. The senior diva came to room where Saigal was and showered compliments on the legend to be. He also gained knowledge after hearing singers like C.C. Saha. He was instrumental for Saigal's meteoric rise in his film career.
In 1932 Kundan Lal Saigal's successful career commenced after he signed a contract of Rs. 200/- a month, with New Theatre to act and sing in films. Some of the films in his early days were Subah Ke Sitare, Zinda Laash and Mohabbat Ke Aason. Later on sang songs like Premnagar Mein Basoongi Ghar Main, Tadapat Beeti Din Rain and Prem Ki Ho Jai from the first feature film Chandidas in which Saigal was the lead actor. The songs catapulted Saigal to stardom. A year after Chandidas in 1935 Devdas benchmarked the star-singers popularity like no other singer before or after. The story of a love-struck and doomed Devdas. The Hindi version in which Saigal starred had immortal arias like Balam Aaye Baso and Dukh Ke Ab Din. The version by Bimal Roy starring Dilip Kumar, Vaijayanti Mala, and Suchitra Sen flopped. The Saigal classic still remains an inspiration for moviemakers as the passionate filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali is slated to adapt the classic starring Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai.
Not only did Saigal act in Hindi films, but he also performed in nine of Bengali films, such as Desher Mati, Jiban Maran, Bijoya and Didi. After acquiring unparalleled success, Saigal shifted base from Bombay to Calcutta in 1942 to act in Jayant Desai's Tansen the true Tansen of Hindi films ignited thousands of lights as he sang Diya Jalao, Baag Laga Doon Sajni. The distinct voice of Saigal transcended Saigal the actor. K. L. Saigal could render light classical with utmost ease. Saigal normally sang in lower octaves, which was emulated by many but was unmatched. It was said that Saigal never recorded without drinking (he used to call a peg Kaali Paanch).
Up till 1946 right from 1932 the Hindi film world was called as K. L. Saigal musical era. According to composer Naushad, for his last two films Parwana and Shahjahan, Saigal recorded his compositions without his Kaali Paanch (peg). Some believe that Saigalsaab had a premonition of his death and that is the reason why he quickly completed the shooting.
A day before his death, Saigal's health suddenly took turn. His niece, Durgesh, then 15, read Bhagwad by his bedside throughout the night. Early in the morning, Saigal breathed his last. He was 42 when he passed on 18th January 1947 in Jalhandar, his hometown. K. L. Saigal had expressed his last wish to play his song Jab Dil Hi Toot Gaya, Hum Jee Kya Karenge a song composed Naushad. The legend passed away depriving music lovers of his celestial voice. Fifty years since his demise Saigal still lingers in the memories of music lovers as K. L. Saigal the immortal singer.
Kishore Kumar (August 4, 1929 - October 13, 1987) was an Indian film playback singer (Hindi, Bangla, Marathi) and actor. He also worked as producer, composer and lyricist but is chiefly remembered as one of the three leading male playback singers in Bollywood (the other two being Mohammed Rafi and Mukesh). He sang extensively with the songbirds of Bollywood - Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle.
Although he is known primarily for his singing talents, he was also successful in his acting adventures which gave birth to such hilarious comedies as Chalti ka Naam Gaadi and Halfar . 1973 Pyar Diwana . 1971 Hungama .
The childhoodKishore Kumar was born in a Bengali family as Abhas Ganguly, in a small town Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh. Kishore's elder brother Ashok Kumar. When Kishore was still a child, his brother Ashok Kumar became a star actor in Bollywood. The effect of filmdom was evident on Kishore the kid. He was a great fan of K. L. Saigal and used to ape his singing style. Often his parents would ask him to ape his brother's Ashok Kumar's song Main ban ka panchhi' and reward him for doing that. Anoop Kumar, Kishore's elder and Ashok's younger brother also forayed in Bollywood, after Ashok became a star.
Initial days in BollywoodKishore Kumar followed his elder brothers' footsteps and came to Mumbai to pursue a career in Bollywood. At this juncture, elder brother Anoop's career wasn't shaping up well, because he was a poor singer. (In those days, actors who could double up as singers were in great demand.) Once Anoop went to Austria, from where he brought some records to learn singing. Once, as he was entering the house, he heard a yodelling voice coming out of a room. Annoyed, he thundered Who touched my records?. But, when he entered the room, he found that it was Kishore's voice! Kishore had learnt yodelling from Anoop's Austrian records.
Kishore wanted to became a leading singer in Bollywood and disliked acting. But, in those days, it was difficult to become a singer, with established names like Talat Mehmood, Mukesh and Mohammed Rafi dominating the playback singing arena. Morover, Kishore didn't have any formal training in singing or music. Kishore got to act in few films, due to his brother Ashok's contacts in the industry. His initial films flopped. But he continued acting, as he would get to sing songs that were picturized on him. At this stage of his career, Kishore used to ape K. L. Saigal. Once Sachin Dev Burman came to Ashok Kumar's house. He heard K. L. Saigal's voice coming out of the bathroom. Impressed, S D Burman, asked Ashok, who the singer was. He waited till Kishore had finished bathing. He had a little talk with Kishore and appreciated his singing. At the same time, he advised Kishore "Don't try to ape K. L. Saigal. Apers never make great artists. You should develop your own singing style." After this, Kishore Kumar developed his own trademark singing style, which was completely different from styles of Rafi, Mukesh and Saigal. He used to yodel in many of his songs. Sachin Dev Burman became his mentor and guide. S D Burman, who had never heard yodelling before, used to call it gala tod ke gaana ('break-throat singing'). Yodelling became Kishore's trademark and media described his singing style as yodelling at the moon.
Kishore becomes a known faceKishore never wanted to act, but he was too afraid to rebel against his elder brother Ashok Kumar, who was hell-bent on making him a popular Bollywood hero. After his initial films flopped, Kishore decided that he would act so badly in the forthcoming movie that no producer would ever ask him to act in a movie. As a result of this decision, Kishore started acting in a strange, funny way. But instead of rejecting him, movie buffs were delighted to see a hero, who would make them laugh. This was a welcome change from the sober, romantic and tragic traditional heros of the Bollywood. Thus, Kishore became comedy-film producers' first choice. In late 1950s, he used to run from one studio to another, recording songs, acting, composing music and sometimes even writing lyrics! He even produced and directed some movies.
Apart from S D Burman, Khemchand Prakash was another composer who recognized Kishore's singing talent early. He composed Kishore's songs in the movie Ziddi. Ziddi's songs established Kishore as a singer. Incidentally, it was at Khemchand's studio, where Kishore met Lata Mangeshkar, with whom he sang many duets later. Lata was going to Khemchand's studio and Kishore was also bound for the same place. Lata thought that some loafer is following her! It was only after reaching the studio that she realized the 'loafer' is Kishore, Ashok Kumar's younger brother. Soon, many other composers like Ravi realized that Kishore had potential to be a good singer. Many lyricists, including Majrooh Sultanpuri and Shailendra became ardent admirers of Kishore.
S D Burman established Kishore as the voice of popular actor Dev Anand, when he got him to sing for Dev Anand in the movies Taxi Driver and Paying Guest. After S D Burman fell out with Lata Mangeshkar in 1957, he gave patronage to Asha Bhosle. Till this time, duets were not very popular in Bollywood. Once S D Burman told Majrooh Sultanpuri "We invest so much energy in recording duets, and nobody likes them. Majrooh replied The mistake is ours. We lyricists never write any good songs that couples would love to hum." S D Burman and Majrooh went on to work together on the most popular duets in the late 1950s. S D Burman, Majrooh, Asha and Kishore worked together in many movies including Kishore's home production Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), in which Kishore Kumar, Madhubala, Ashok Kumar and Anoop Kumar acted. The songs Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si, Haal kaisa hai janaab ka, Paanch rupaiya baara aana became very poplar. They were also heard in Dev Anand's Paying Guest (1957) and Teen Deviyan. The song Mana janab ne pukara nahin from Paying Guest was a superhit among the guys. Asha and Kishore became famous for singing 'casual' duets like Chhod do aanchal, zamaana kya kahega, Aye nigah-e-mastana, Aankhon mein kya ji, Arre yaar meri, tum bhi ho gajab, Chhedo na meri zulfein. Majrooh, Asha and Kishore also recorded popular duets with composer Ravi in the movie Dilli Ka Thug (1958) - C...A...T...Cat maane billi, Hum to mohabbat karega.
Majrooh Sultanpuri and Shailendra were favorite lyricists of Kishore. He got them to write songs in his home productions. In those days, musicians would recommend lyricists to producers. The musician duo Shankar-Jaikishan had promised Shailendra that they would recommend him to all the producers, but they didn't keep their promise. Shailendra send them a note - Chhoti si yeh duniya, pehchaane raaste hain; Kahin to miloge, phir poochhenge haal (The world is small, the roads are known; we shall meet somewhere, then I would ask you - How do you do). Shanker-Jaikishan realized their mistake. They made a song out of the above words and got Kishore to sing it!
Majrooh penned most of Kishore's hit songs in his initial days, most of them with S D Burman, for Dev Anand - Hum hain raahi pyaar ke, Maana janaab ne pukaara nahin etc.
Kishore was interested in composing music as well. It is said, along with Kalyanji Shah (of the Kalyanji-Anandji fame), he introduced electronic music in Bollywood. The electronic sounds in some of S D Burman's music are credited to Kishore (he assisted S D Burman sometimes). Sometimes, Kishore would composed music himself and write lyrics too. In 1961 movie, Jhumroo, Kishore wrote, composed and sung Main hoon jhumroo. This song is a very nice example of his yodelling ability. Kishore could sing in female voice too. In Half Ticket (1962), he sang Aake Seedhi Lagi in male as well as female voice. The song was written by Shailendra and composed by Salil Chaudhary.
The lean patch in Kishore's careerAfter Madhubala's death in 1962, there was a lean patch in Kishore's career. Most of his films as an actor flopped. Very few of his songs from this phase are memorable - Zaroorat hai, Zaroorat hai (Manmauji - 1962; penned by Rajendra Krishna; composed by Madan Mohan). Mohammed Rafi and Mukesh were the favorites of most music composers, so Kishore never got to sing very good songs. Few of his songs picturized on Dev Anand and composed by S D Burman, got him recognition - Gaata rahe mera dil (Guide 1965, duet with Lata), Yeh dil na hota bechara (Jewel Thief 1967) etc.
In 1966, S D Burman's son Rahul Dev Burman burst into the music scene with superhit score of the movie Teesri Manzil. He had got Rafi to sing all the songs in the movie. But, later R D Burman (also known by his pet name Pancham) gave great patronage to Kishore Kumar. Their first hit movie together was the laught-riot 'Padosan' (The Neighbour). In this movie, Kishore Kumar played the role of Sunil Dutt's guru. Sunil Dutt's role was of boy who was in love with his next-door neighbour, a girl obessed with singing. To impress the girl, he gets his guru to do 'playback' for him. Kishore Kumar did the 'playback' in the movie, both on-screen and off-screen. Kishore and Pancham created the superhit song Mere saamnewali khidki mein. In one scene, there was a verbal fight between Mehmood (who acted as the girl's guru) and Sunil Dutt/Kishore Kumar. Kishore insisted that it would be boring if the dialogues were spoken in a plain manner. Mehmood fully agreed with him. So, Kishore, Mehmood, lyricist Rajendra Krishna and Pancham sat together and came up with the 'musical fight' - Ek chaturnar, karke singaar. The song, sung by Kishore and Manna De (who sang for Mehmood) became very popular.
The superstar eraIn 1969, Shakti Samantha produced the movie Aradhana with newcomer Rajesh Khanna. Composer was Sachin Dev Burman and he had divided songs equally among his favorite singers - Kishore, Mohammed Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar. Kishore sang the romantic duet Kora kagaz tha yeh man mera with Lata. S D Burman fell ill, before he could record all the songs. He had already created the tunes for the songs Roop tera mastana and Mere sapnon ki rani. R D Burman took the responsibility of completing the recording. This way, tunes were created by S D Burman and the instrumentation was that of R D Burman. Pancham got Kishore Kumar to sing these two songs. These two songs became overnight hits and launched Kishore's playback singing career. Kishore Kumar got his first Filmfare award for the sensual song Roop tera mastana.
Burmans single-handedly made Kishore the numero uno playback singer in Bollywood. They got Kishore to sing for all the leading heroes - Rajesh Khanna, Randhir Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar among others. S D Burman and Kishore worked together in many of Dev Anand's movies. In 1970, Dev Anand's directoral debut, Prem Pujari, flopped. But the songs penned by Neeraj, Phoolon ke rang se (Lena hoga janam hamein) and Shokhiyon mein ghola jaaye (duet with Lata) are still popular. Neeraj, S D Burman, Lata and Kishore came together again for the Shashi Kapoor starrer 1971 hit Sharmilee, for which they recorded Khilte hain gul yahan, Aaj madhosh hua jaaye re, O meri sharmilee. S D Burman also got Kishore to sing for the 1973 Dharmendra-starrer Jugnu, where Kishore sang Pyaar ke is khel mein.
In 1970s, R D Burman got Kishore to sing virtually every remarkable tune he created for the male voice. The single Tum bin jaaoon kahaan (Pyaar Ka Mausam - 1969; lyrics by Majrooh), which was also sung by Rafi, proved that Kishore can sing as well as Rafi, even though he wasn't a classically trained singer. Songs like Yeh shaam mastaani (Kati Patang - 1970; lyricist - Anand Bakshi) made Kishore extremely popular among the youngsters. In 1971, Pancham and Kishore many memorable tunes, ranging from the romantic Raat kali ek khwab mein (Buddha mil gaya; lyricist Majrooh) to the tragic Yeh kya hua, Chingari koi bhadke, Kuchh to loge kahenge (Amar Prem; lyricist Anand Bakshi; picturized on Rajesh Khanna). 1972 saw hits like Meri bheegi bheegi si (Anaamika, picturized on Sanjeev Kumar), O Mere dil ke chain (Mere Jeevan Saathi; lyricist Majrooh; picturized on Rajesh Khanna) and Kanchi Re, Phoolon ka taaron ka (Hare Krishna Hare Rama; picuturized on Dev Anand).
Even after so many hits, only Burmans gave patronage to Kishore Kumar. Other composers like Shankar-Jaikishan, Madan Mohan etc. used to give him second-rated songs. In 1972, Pancham got Kishore to sing for a newcomer in the movie Bombay To Goa. The 'newcomer' was none other than Amitabh Bachchan and thus Kishore became the voice of next superstar as well. The song Meet na mila re man ka (Abhimaan 1973) established Kishore as Amitabh's singing voice. Hits after hits followed, and Kishore, Amitabh and Pancham became a rage. Before buying an audio cassette, people would make sure that there is at least one Kishore Kumar song in the album. Producers would insist on using Kishore Kumar as hero's singing voice. This forced other music composers like Laxmikant-Pyarelal (LP) to sideline Rafi and adopt Kishore as their lead singer.
LP and Kishore have many hits to their credits in the 1970s, including Mere dil mein aaj kya hai (Daag 1973; lyricist: Sahir Ludhiyanvi), Mere naseeb mein aye dost, Naach meri bulbul (Roti), Chal chal mere haathi (Haathi Mere Saathi) etc. Most of these songs were picturized on Rajesh Khanna and penned by Anand Bakshi. The team also recorded many songs in Amitabh Bachchan starrers e.g. My name is Anthony Gonsalves (Amar Akbar Anthony). LP also got Kishore and Rafi to sing together in many films like Dostana, Kranti, Ram Balram etc. LP will be chiefly remembered for the duets that they recorded with Lata and Kishore - Achchha to ab hum chalte hain, Kal ki hansi mulaakat ke liye, Gore rang pe na itna gumaan kar, Ti kitne baras ka etc.
The duo of Kalyanji-Anandji also adopted Kishore as their lead singer in the 1970s. The team produced many hit songs in movies like Dharmatma (1975), Laawaris, Muqaddar ka Sikandar, Kabeela, Johnny Mera Naam and Don among others. The Kishore-Asha duet Vaada to nibhaya from Johnny Mera Naam was a superhit. The songs O Saathi Re (Muqaddar ka Sikandar) and Khaike Paan Banaraswaala (Don) became extremely popular as well.
In 1975, S D Burman went into a coma, while Kishore was singing Badi sooni sooni si hai zindagi (Life is lonely) for the movie Mili. He died about a year later. R D Burman completed the score of the movie. R D Burman continuted with his patronage to Kishore. He got Kishore to sing for both Dharmendra and Amitabh in the 1975 bumper-hit Sholay. Manna De was called in, only when a sequence required both the heroes singing together (Yeh dosti hum kabhi na todenge). In 1970s Kishore sang in many of Dev Anand's not-so-successful movies under the baton of R D Burman - Warrant (1975), Heera Panna, Shareef Badmash etc. Although these films did average box office business, the music was always hit. The songs like Ruk Jaana O Jaana (Warrant) and Panna ki tamanna (Heera Panna, duet with Lata) and Neend chura ke raaton mein (Shareef Badmash) were chart-busters. Even while recording intricate songs of Aandhi (1976; lyrics by Gulzar), Pancham used Kishore's voice, instead of using somebody trained in classical music. They recorded many more beautiful songs, including the title song of Agar tum na hote and Humein tum se pyaar kitna. Their comatose songs like Mere naina saawan bhado, Chingari koi bhadke, O maajhi re made them popular among the mature audience as well. Of course, Kishore also sang Pancham's trademark 'peppy' pop numbers picturized on young heroes like Rishi Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt. Kishore and Lata sang trendy numbers in Sanjay's first movie Rocky - Kya yehi pyaar hai, Hum tumse mile (lyricist: Anand Bakshi). R D Burman and Kishore worked together in many movies including Aapki Kasam, The Burning Train, Apna Desh, Dharam Karam, Takkar, Seeta Aur Geeta, Joshila, Kasmein Vaade, Rampur ka Laxman, Kaaliya etc.
New musicians like Rajesh Roshan, Sapan Chakravarthy (Pancham's assistant), Bappi Lahiri and others also preferred Kishore to any other singer. Rajesh Roshan's first hit movie Julie had memorable numbers sung by Kishore and Lata - Bhool gaya sab kuchh, Dil kya kare jab kisi se etc. Rajesh Roshan worked with Kishore in many other movies like Do Aur Do Paanch (1980), Manpasand etc. Sapan Chakravarthy recorded the popular Tum bhi chalo, hum bhi chalien (Zameer) with Kishore and Asha. Bappi da, notorious for lifting western numbers, got Kishore to sing many of his popular songs like Chalte chalte, Aaj rapat jaayein (duet with Lata), Pag ghunghroo(Namak Halaal - 1982; picturized on Amitabh), jahan chaar yaar (Sharaabi - 1984).
Last yearsKishore's son Amit Kumar was already a popular singer in 1980s, thanks to patronage by R D Burman and Rajesh Roshan. But Kishore was still around, singing for established and young heroes alike. Kishore Kumar and Amitabh had some misunderstanding in 1980s. Kishore was producing a movie and Amitabh (who was a Bollywood deity by then) was supposed to do a guest-appearance in the movie. Amitabh arrived at the shoot, but left after few minutes, asking his secretary to tell Kishore that he won't act in the movie. Kishore got upset and decided never to sing for Amitabh. Incidentally, Amitabh's films started flopping after this and he faced the worst phase in his Bollywood career. He made a comeback many years later, through the popular television series, Kaun Banega Crorepati (Hindi version of 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire).
Kishore sang for Anil Kapoor in his first movie, Woh Saat Din. He also sang for him in his first superhit movie Mr. India. LP gave the music for both the movies. In 1987, he sang some really nice songs for R D Burman in the movie Saagar - Saagar jaisi aankhon waali (based on Raga Yaman) and Saagar kinaare dil yeh pukaare (duet with Lata). The songs were penned by Javed Akhtar.
In 1987, Kishore decided to retire from Bollywood and go back to his roots, his village Khandwa, where he breathed his last.
Kishore's personal lifeKishore Kumar married four times - Ruma Ghosh (1950-58), Madhubala (1960-69), Yogeeta Bali (1975-78) and Leena Chandavarkar (1980-87).
His son Amit Kumar followed his fathers path and became a singer in almost the same style, although could not touch the heights achieved by the father. Kishore's second son, Sumit Kumar has also sung in films.
Prabodh Chandra Dey (b. 1920), better known by his nickname Manna Dey (Bengali: মান্না দে Manna De), is a well known playback singer in Hindi films and other vernacular Indian films, especially Bengali.
He was born to Purna Chandra Dey (his father) and Mahamaya Dey (his mother). Apart from them, in his childhood he was greatly inspired and influenced by his youngest paternal uncle Sangeetacharya (meaning "Venerable Teacher of Music" in Sanskrit) Krishna Chandra Dey, who loved and pampered little Manna. He received his early education in a small pre-primary school popularly known as Indu Babur Pathshala. Thereafter he was sent to Scottish Church Collegiate School and later to the Scottish Church College to complete his schooling and pre-university education. After that, he was admitted to Vidyasagar College for his graduate education. From his very childhood, Manna Dey manifested a keen liking for sports events like wrestling and boxing and excelled in both. He is a jovial personality and is known for playing pranks upon people. His contemporaries readily acknowledge him as one of the most sociable contemporaries in his chosen vocation (a characteristic rare among contemporary fellow musicians, perhaps with the exception of the late Kishore Kumar).
It was on the 18th December 1953, Manna Dey married Sulochana Kumaran from Kerala. Suroma Dey, who was the eldest daughter was born on 19th October 1956, and on 20th June 1958, Sumita Dey followed.
It was during his intermediate classes at Scottish Church College that Manna Dey’s vocal talent became apparent. Beating the tables of the classroom and singing aloud to entertain his compatriots during recess became a common feature for the budding talent. Later he started taking singing lessons from his uncle Krishna Chandra Dey and from Ustad Dabir Khan. It was during this period of time that Manna Dey stood first for three consecutive years in three different categories of inter-collegiate singing competitions.
In 1942, Manna Dey accompanied his renowned uncle Krishna Chandra Dey on a visit to Mumbai. And there first under the tutelage of his uncle, and later Sachin Dev Burman, Manna Dey started working as a successful assistant music director. Later he also assisted other famous music composers and then decided to work independently. But even while working separately as a music director for different successful Hindi films, Manna Dey never stopped taking musical lessons in Hindustani classical music from two stalwarts, Ustad Aman Ali Khan and Ustad Abdul Rahman Khan.
Manna Dey started his career in playback singing with the film Tamanna in 1943. The musical score was set by his uncle Krishna Chandra Dey and he had to sing a duet with Suraiya. The song was an instant hit. People across the country loved the song. In 1950, Mashal was the second film where Manna Dey got the opportunity to sing a solo Upar Gagan Vishal and this time the melody was created by Sachin Dev Burman. In 1952, Manna Dey sang both for a Bengali and a Marathi film of the same name and storyline – Amar Bhupali, and established himself as a leading Bengali playback singer.
Perhaps his talent received his best accolade from the legendary Mohammad Rafi who once told the journalists: "You listen to my songs. I listen to Manna Dey songs only". Musicians like Sachin Dev Burman and Anil Biswas agreed that Manna Dey could sing any song of Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh and Talat Mehmood, but Rafi, Kishore, Mukesh and Talat would not be able to render vocally much of the technically perfect songs of Manna Dey. Manna Dey is arguably the greatest trained singer of Hindi film music.
He is perhaps the most versatile singer living today. He recorded a legendary duet with classicist Bhimsen Joshi-- Ketaki Gulab Juhi. He also sang completely different genres of duet songs with Kishore Kumar like for example Yeh Dosti Hum Nehi Torenge (Sholay) and Ek Chatur Naar (Padosan). Manna Dey sang side by side the legendary Hemant Kumar in Bengali film industry and also for other contemporary Bengali composers of the time offering unforgettable scores for modern Bengali songs. His immortal duet with Lata Mangeshkar in the film Sankhyabela in the lips of Uttam Kumar, "Ke Prothom Kachhe Esechi" brought him back to mainstream Bengali film music. In fact it would not be wrong to claim that it was he who pioneered a new genre in Indian music where he infused Indian classical music within a pop music frame work. It is hardly surprising that Manna's versatility extends to the more technically demanding genre of Rabindra Sangeet as well.
His experimentation with western music produced many unforgettable melodies. To date there is no Indian language which has not been influenced by the melody of this multi-talented singer. He has also recorded more than 3500 songs. His music has enthralled the audience throughout the world. He has been awarded with titles like the National Singer of India, Padma Shri, and Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.
The fame of Manna Dey has over flown to every part of the globe, more specifically wherever there is an Indian diasporic community. In fact, it may be said that his is not merely a name that is deified everywhere, rather it creates a ripple of mixed feeling of love and worship whenever cited. People venerate him not only for his musical bearing but because he epitomizes in his work a wonderful combination of melody and poetry. His stance in Indian music vindicates the axiom – that art outlives the artist.
Manna Dey currently lives in Bangalore in the township of Kalyannagar. After spending more than fifty years in Bombay, he moved on to Bangalore. He still maintains a Calcutta address. At the age of 86, he travels widely all over the world and performs a lot of stage programs.
A short list of awards and honors received by him from time to time is given chronologically.
* 1970 National Award as Playback singer For the Bengali film Nishipadma
* 1971 National Award as Playback singer For the Hindi Film Mera Naam Joker
* 1971 Padmasree Award Govt. of India
* 1985 Lata Mangeskar Award Awarded by Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
* 1988 Michale Sahittyo Puraskar Awarded by Renaissance Sanskritik Parishad, Dacca
* 1990 Shyamal Mitra Award Mithun Fans Association
* 1991 Sangeet Swarnachurr Award Awarded by Shree Khetra Kala Prakashika, Puri
* 1993 P.C.Chandra Award P.C.Chandra Group & others
* 1999 Kamala Devi Roy Award Kamala Devi Group
* 2001 Anandalok Award Anandabazar Group
* 2002 Special Jury Swaralaya Yesudas Award for outstanding performance in music
* 2003 Alauddin Khan Award Govt. of West Bengal
* 2004 National Award as Playback singer Govt. of Kerala
* 2004 D. Lit Honour Rabindra Bharati University
* 2005 Life Time Achievement award Govt. of Maharastra
* 2005 D.Lit Honour Burdwan University
* 2005 Padmabhusan Award Govt. of India
* Awaara (1951)
* Do Bigha Zamin (1953)
* Boot Polish (1954)
* Shree 420 (1955)
* Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje (1955)
* Devdas (1955)
* Chori Chori (1956)
* Madhumati (1958)
* Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958)
* Kala Bazaar (1960)
* Bandini (1963)
* Dil Hi To Hai(1963)
* Meri Surat Teri Aankhen(1963)
* Taj Mahal (1963)
* Bhoot Bangla(1965)
* Love in Tokyo (1966)
* Upkaar (1967)
* Raat Aur Din (1967)
* Padosan (1968)
* Mera Naam Joker (1970)
* Zanjeer (1973)
* Sholay (1975)
* Amar Akbar Anthony(1977)
* Basant Bahar
* Prahaar (1990)
* Chandan Ki Plana
* Budda Mil Gaya
The 1950's and 1960's possibly had the best in terms of musical talent in the Hindi Film Industry. The kind of music that was created was superlative by any standards. And, there was choice - there was classical, rock, jazz, folk, fun, … the lot. Amongst the greats of this era was Manna Dey. Not as prolific as either Mohammed Rafi or Kishore Kumar, he managed however to sing some of the best songs in Hindi films. May 1st was his birthday. Here are some of my favourite songs from his repertoire.
a) Yeh Raat Bhigi Bhigi - a lovely romantic duet from the film Chori Chori, starring Raj Kapoor & Nargis. sung by Manna Dey and Lata Mangeshkar, the music is by Shankar Jaikishen & lyrics by Shailendra. Although Mukesh was considered the definitive voice of Raj Kapoor, the duets by Manna Dey were all superaltive. There are two other songs from this film - Jahan Mein Jaati hoon vahi Chale aate ho, and Aaja Sanam Madhur Chandini Mein hum, and two from Shree 420 - Pyaar Huva Ikraar Huva and Mud Mud Ke na Dekh … which are in my list of top songs of all times.
b) Na to Karvan Ki Talaash Hai - My favourte Qawalli from Hindi Films. Manna Dey, Asha Bhonsle, Mohd. Rafi and others. The song runs for almost 10 minutes. Manna De opens the classic piece and Rafi ends it… both are at their best in this song. Roshan Sahab (the father of Rakesh & grand father of Hrithik) composes a masterpiece, lyrics are by Shailendra -
c) Zindagi Kaise Hai Paheli - Manna De in the film Anand, singing for Rajesh Khanna. the muisc director is Salil Choudhary and lyrics are by Yogesh. The film is about a cancer patient, who has no hope of survival and the joy that he brings to people in his life. Possibly Rajesh Khanna’s best performance. The soundtrack is full of gems - Na Jiya Lage Na, Meine Tere Liye Hi saath rang ke sapne chune, Kahi Door Jab Din Dhal Jaye
d) Kaun Aaya Mere Dil Ke Dwaare - Manna Dey sings for Anoop Kumar (trivia - Anoop Kumar is the brother of Ashok Kumar & Kishore Kumar) for the film Dekh Kabira Roya. The film, despite its name, is a comedy. A story of three struggling men and their quest for their muses. Music in the film is by Madan Mohan and lyrics by Rajendra Kishen
e) Pucho Na Kaise Man Rain Bitaye - the film is Meri Soorat Teri Ankhen, the song is picturised on Ashok Kumar. The music is by S.D.Burman and lyrics by Shailendra. The story is about an disfigured abandoned child, who grows up to be a disfigured singer (Ashok Kumar). And, then he falls in love with Asha Parekh !
f) Ketaki Gulab Juhi - a duet with Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. The song is a competition between the two singers, and in typical Hindi Film ishtyle … Pandit Bhimsen Joshi loses. If your mind can overcome this fact… listen to the song…
g) Tu Pyaar Ka Saagar Hai - I always had a crush on Balraj Sahani - and in a way I still do. Everytime I see him on screen, my heart flutters, it truly does. And, it flutters a lot more in this song than in his other on screen appearances. Although, this song is sung as a Bhajan, for me it was a love song … which Balraj Sahni is singing to Nutan. Music by Shankar Jaikishen, Lyrics, Shailendra.
h) Laga Chunri Mein Daag - the film is Dil Hi to Hai. Music by Roshan & Lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi. The song is picturised on a very bearded Raj Kapoor. The film is about mistaken identity, honour, love and misunderstandings … in short it could be any Hindi film except that Roshan’s music lifts it above its own mediocrity.
i) O Meri Zohra Zabeen - the Film is Waqt - the first of the last and found sagas …. The song is picturised on Balraj Sahni (be still my fluttering heart),the music is by Ravi and lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi.
j) Phir Kahi Koi Phul Khila - the film is Anubhav - a complicated tangle of marital relationships. It has a wonderful sound track. Other classics in this film include the brilliant number by Geeta Dutt - Mujhe jaan na Kahon, meri Jaan. The film stars Sanjeev Kumar and Tanuja as the newly married couple with more than than their share of problems.
k) Mud Mud ke Na Dekh Mud Mud Ke - Asha and Manna De in this fabulous number from Shree 420. Picturised on Nadira & Raj Kapoor. The music is by Shankar Jaikishen and lyrics by Shailendra. The film is about a young idealist Raj Kapoor, who is seduced by wealth, fame and fortune - represented by Maya (nadira) … and brought back to the straight and narrow (not to mention poverty) by Vidya. The song marks the turning point in the film when Raj Kapoor goes over to the evil side….