The legendary Manna Dey had a huge achievement to his name. He was one singer who can be credited with the success of Indian classical music in Hindi commercial movies. Music director Kalyanji had once said the industry never saw an educated singer like Manna Dey before. The way he would present a usual movie song adding all nuances of classical music, thumri and ghazal styles of singing started reaching all sections of society through commercial Hindi films.
Today is Manna Dey’s 99th birth anniversary. Born on 1 May, 1919, in Kolkata, he took his early music lessons from his uncle Krishna Chandra Dey, a celebrated singer and music director more popularly known as KC Dey. Manna Dey was famous for his ability to sing songs of any genre, but his voice stood out for its classical prowess.
Here are 5 Hindi film songs that Manna Dey made immortal due to his mastery in classical music.
Jhanak Jhanak Tori Baaje Payaliya
Set in the royal Raag Darbari Kanhara, the song is from the film, Mere Huzoor, starring Jeetendra, Mala Sinha and Raj Kumar. The music was by Shankar Jaikishan. It is said the song was supposed to be sung by Mohd Rafi but he suggested Manna Dey’s name saying he would do more justice to the pure classical song.
Upar Gagan VIshal
Manna Dey had started his singing career with film Tamanna, but got popular with this song from Mashal (1950). The music was by Sachin Deb Burman with whom he went on to sing a number of great songs.
Ek Chatur Naar
The very famous and utterly enjoyable duet by Manna Dey and Kishore Kumar is still a chartbuster. Filmed on Mehmood and Sunil Dutt for 1968 hit Padosan, the song had Manna Dey lending his voice to Mehmood and Kishore Kumar singing for Sunil Dutt, the hero who was mocking his love interest Saira Banu’s music teacher played by Mehmood.
Laaga Chunari Mein Daag
This song from 1963 movie Dil Hi To Hai, starring Raj Kapoor and Nutan, is almost a milestone when it comes to use of classical music in Bollywood. No one other than Manna Dey and his mellifluous voice could do justice to this Raag Bhairavi composition by Roshan. Many musicians have called this song one of the toughest ever in Hindi films.
Kaun Aaya Mere Man Ke Dwaare
Once again, the flawless singer sang a pure classical song with utmost ease for a commercial Hindi film and made it a hit. The song composed by Madan Mohan was set in Raag Raageshri, called the queen of ragas. Manna Dey’s one of the earliest hits, the song is from film Dekh Kabira Roya (1957).