Manna Dey’s music transcended trends and linguistic barriers. His life ended yesterday. His death at 94 leaves a void no one can fill.
Born as Probodh Chandra Dey to Bengali parents in Kolkata in 1919, he performed as Manna Dey. He made his recorded music debut in the 1943 film Tamanna.
In a career spanning more than five decades, Dey’s voice was rarely associated with a hero, his name seldom did the rounds at a music director’s lobby. His voice alone did all the magic as he endeared himself to fans across generations. No wonder in a country with so many popular singers, Dey managed to steal the hearts of one and all.
Such was his appeal that even Mohammed Rafi, one of the legends of Hindi recorded music, once famously acknowledge to his fans: “You listen to my songs and I listen to Manna Dey.”
Credited with introducing a new genre by fusing Indian classical music and pop, he came to represent a golden age of Hindi cinema. He ranked among the all-time greats, the last of whom – Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle – he has left behind. As we mourn Dey, we inevitably mourn the passing of the golden era of Indian cinema.