Remembering SD Burman’s Manna Dey

October 31, 2013

SD Burman-Manna DeyMera sab kuchh mere geet re sang Manna Dey for SD Burman in Zindagi Zindagi. In a sad coincidence, in the midst of my SD Burman series, Manna Dey passed away exactly a week ago at the age of 94 (b. 1 May 1919, d. 24 Oct 2013). Today happens to be SD Burman’s death anniversary (b. 1 Oct 1906, d. 31 Oct 1975). It is deeply mysterious how people, who are connected in various ways, also get connected in their birth or death anniversaries. Both from Bengal, they were both trained by Manna Dey’s uncle, the legendary singer-actor-composer, KC Dey, which led to their close friendship even though SD Burman was 13 years senior to Manna Dey in age. Both shared the Bengali’s characteristic passion for football.

Manna Dey got his first break as a singer in 1942 in Tamanna in which he sang a duet with Suraiya, Jago aayi usha, composed by KC Dey. He sang about 50 songs in 28 films from 1943 to 50, but without much success. His first major success was under the baton of SD Burman in Mashal with Upar gagan vishal. During this period, Manna Dey was also assistant to SD Burman in a number of films, including Mashal in which he was credited as Associate Music Director. He also assisted some other composers including his uncle KC Dey, and gave music independently in some films.

Among all his contemporaries, he was the best trained in classical music and was endowed with a powerful voice. He was also amazingly versatile who could effortlessly traverse from classical to folk, from bhajan to patriotic to qawwali to comic to romantic songs. A large number of his songs are among all time greats. Yet in the queer dynamic of the film music industry, a singer needed to be identified with one of the major stars. Manna Dey could not get slotted to any major banner or singer; he was a singer for special occasions, and left an indelible mark with whatever he sang. He won many honours and awards including Padma Shri (1971), Padma Bhushan (2005), and Daasaheb Phalke Award (2007), the highest honour for a film personality.

With his passing away the last titan of male playback singers of the Golden Era has gone. While he sang for all the major composers, the person whom he admired most, with whom he had the closest personal bond and was in awe of, was SD Burman, who gave him about 40 songs. This is far behind Kishore Kumar’s 114 and Rafi’s 94 songs, and also probably far behind his songs for other prolific composers such as Shankar Jaikishan. But there is something about SD Burman which makes his songs for Manna Dey very special and unique. I present my favourite ten songs of this combination as my joint tribute to the two great talents.

1. Upar gagan vishal from Mashal (1950), lyrics Pradeep

Let us start with the first SD Burman-Manna Dey song. You cannot imagine any other singer to give voice to Pradeep’s deeply philosophical lyrics. SD Burman brilliantly composes Upar gagan vishal in high notes, and just the next phrase Neeche gahra paataal in lower octave. Manna Dey glides down like a virtuoso.


2. Hato kahe ko jhoothi banaao batiya from Manzil (1960), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

Can classical be comic? We have already seen Manna Dey’s talent in Lapak jhapak in Boot Polish. SD Burman now harnesses his talent by giving a new turn to the classical Bhairavi Thumri. Mehmood’s acting of a Purabia is equally awesome. Thus you have this matchless song where the lyrics, the voice, the composition and picturisation, all combine to create a magical effect.


SD Burman was a great fan of Ustad Faiyyaz Khan. Here is this thumri in the voice of Aftab-e-Mausiqui


3. Kisne chilman se mara nazara mujhe from Baat Ek Raat Ki (1962), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

Same team, except now Johnny Walker has replaced Mehmood, and the style is qawwali. The infectious energy of Johnny Walker, the gorgeous dance by Sabita Chaterjee and others, and great composition by SD Burman, are enhanced by the unique full throated singing by Manna Dey in which the inflexion in his voice and the complex taans perfectly mirror the actors’ actions.


4. Mat ro mata laal tere bahutere from Bandini (1963), lyrics Shailendra

As the revolutionary is being taken to the gallows, his mother and sister are silent witness. This invocation by the revolutionary to his mother not to cry because he would take birth again when the river Ganga would flow in a free land gives you goose bumps every time you hear it. I rank it with Ae mere pyare watan. From classical-comic to emotional-patriotic – what a genius both Manna Dey and SD Burman.


5. Poochho na kaise maine rain bitaayi from Meri Surat Teri Aankhen, lyrics Shailendra

Among classical songs in films this one has acquired a cult status. I leave it for the experts to describe its beauty and significance. We have seen SD Burman using classical in a comic setting. Now he does it in an absolutely sombre style befitting a grave Raga like Ahir Bhairav. The effect is serene and calm.


6. Pyar ki aag mein tan badan jal gaya from Ziddi (1964), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri

SD Burman-Manna Dey take us on a roller coaster ride. Now they bring us back to comic, picturised on Mehmood. The experts may confirm, at places it appeared to me as Darbari. And in a quirky twist, SD Burman seamlessly inserts at 3.40 the title tune of Come September. It is clear these songs were the precursor of the mad act in Padosan – Ek chatur naar – composed by RD Burman.


7. Hey Ram hamare Ramchandra from Guide (1965), lyrics Shailendra

This one is relatively less known among the songs from Guide, but it comes at an important point in the movie. Was Dev Anand a crook or a saint? Despite his protestations, and his disclosure of his fallen past, the gullible villagers insist on treating him as a high soul having come in their midst to redeem from their suffering. Was it their superstition or faith or selfishness that Dev Anand’s sacrifice may bring them rains? A song deserving notice in this very complex movie.


8. Tere naina talash karein from Talash (1969), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri

Manna Dey in his elements now in Chhayanat, one of the Ragas in Subodh’s romantic quartet. The dance by Madhumati enhances the picturisation.


9. Mere sab kuchh mere geet re from Zindagi Zindagi (1972), lyrics Anand Bakshi

‘My songs are everything for me’ – Manna Dey truly believed in this. Even at the age of 90 he used to give public performances.


10. Piya maine kya kiya mujhe chhod ke jaiyo na from Us Paar (1974), lyrics Yogesh

I started with the first song composed by SD Burman for Manna Dey. I end with what should be probably the last of their collaboration. As Maushmi Chatterjee leaves, Vinod Mehra is seen pleading with her to stay back, but to no avail, when this beautiful atmospheric song in the voice of Manna Dey comes. The setting is perfect for the song to be in Dada’s voice himself. His biography by Khagesh Dev Barman mentions that had he not been very sick he would have sung it himself.


SD Burman did sing a very short Piya tune kya kiya re in Zindagi Zindagi, but picturised against a happy setting with Sunil Dutt and Waheeda Rahman. I end this article with this song.



{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jignesh Kotadia October 31, 2013 at 1:13 pm

very nice tribute to the Great at an appropriate time. Every song is a gem. I still have to hear no. 6,7, 9 and 10. Mannada has sung too many comiclassic songs (many for mehmood) and they all have repeat value bcz of only mannada’s supreme classical renderings.
E.g. ‘meri bhains ko danda kyun mara'(pagla kahin ka), ‘humne ye soch kar pyar kiya’, ‘insaaf hua duniya se ai yaar safaachat’ (preetam). Mannada sings whatever it automatically turns classical.
Akji u shud compile more such comiclassic songs like ‘hato kahe ko’ and ‘lapak jhapak’.
Thanx for this interesting post. Happy diwali.

2 mumbaikar8 October 31, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Perfect tribute to a perfect singer, though I feel it should have come earlier. Bettet late than never.
SD’s Manna is sone pe suhaga.
Obvious, from my repeated famaishies for his article. is that Manna Dey stands very high on my ladder of preferences.
As for precursor of Ek Chatoor naar I always felt it to be Lapak Jhapak Tu Aa
My personal favorite from the list above is Piya maine kya kiya.
SD’s Piya tune kya kiya has a beautful sad version too.

I would like to add one more gem of this combo, it is a twin song Manna Dey and Lata , as per your theory even here male versions stands taller.
Manna Dey


3 AK October 31, 2013 at 10:42 pm

Thanks a lot. My favourite best songs of Manna Dey included his classical-comic songs. This was a genre perfected by him. It so hapens that a good number are by SD Burman. But there are still many left, probably good enough for a post at some appropriate time.

Happy Diwali to you too and all the readers.

4 AK October 31, 2013 at 11:01 pm

I am aware of your fondness for Manna Dey. He should have indeed come earlier. I had not intended his first exclusive post in such circumstances. But I think half of his best would have included five songs from this list. Lapak jhapak predates the classic-comic songs listed here, so it has an important place in the evolution of this genre. The classical part is very faithful and sincere, yet a little voice modulation, inflexion, and matching gestures by the actors on the screen, create an amazing impact. Manna Dey became the undisputed master of this genre. I don’t know if it is one song, or a number of them that build up to Ek chatur naar. Thanks for adding the Bablaa songs. Now one can safely say if there is a twin song,the male version would be better. The sad version of Piya tune kya kiya re is more typical of SD Burman. In fact, I found its happy version quite discordant. It is surprising both the versions are only half-song.

5 n.venkataraman November 1, 2013 at 12:32 am

Simply Superb. You have presented ten of the best songs Manna Dey sang for S D Burman and some of them will rank among Manna Dey’s all time best.

Manna Dey himself has said more than once that the song Upar Gagan Vishal made a significant difference to his career. In fact S D Burman had asked him to put his heart and soul into the song and render it in his uncle K C Dey’s style. Manna Dey did sing this song with great feeling, but preferred to retain his own style.

Manna Dey had himself listed the songs Poocho na kaise, Aan Milo Aan milo, Tere naina Talash kare jisey, Hato kahe ko Jhuti banao batiyan and Mere sab kuch mera geet re as some of the best songs he had rendered for S D Burman.

Manna Dey says,
‘The last song is one of my all time favourites, because it epitomizes the way, a singer, feel about music. Music is everything to me. Who else can be my friend but music? The picturisation of the song was so dreary, however, that when I eventually went to see the film, I was on verge of tears. It was as if the song had been strangled to death. Had the director handled the scene differently, that number would surely have been a smash hit.’

Out of roughly 40 songs about a dozen were sung between 1950 and 1959, twenty songs were sung between 1960 and 1969, out of which roughly 50% were rendered in 1960 alone. The rest of the songs were rendered between 1970 and 1974.

It is true that Manna Dey did not get to sing for the lead actor in most of the films, S D Burman too used him for the lead actors in only 11 songs. Devanand 5, Ashok Kumar 2, Pradip Kumar and Sanjeev Kumar one each, and surprisingly Manna Dey sang for Kishore Kumar once in Bewaqoof in 1960. Here is the link.

Ho gayee Sham dil badnam lyrics Shailendra

Please correct me if I am making a mistake.

Here is an interesting observation. Kishore lip-syncs for Manna Dey in another song ‘Dhadka dil dhak se in the same movie twice somewhere around 1:45 and 2:00. Further in the same film Bewaqoof there are two songs by Kishore Kumar. In the song Michael hai to cycle hai, we can hear Manna Dey’s voice replacing that of Kishore Kumar’s (somewhere between 1:25 and 1:30). Same thing happens in the song Tu Mi Piaci, Cara, somewhere around 4:30. Can somebody confirm and explain the reason for the same.

Here is a link to a solo song rendered by Manna Dey for Devanand from Manzil (1960), lyrics Majrooh Sultan Puri

Thank you once again for the wonderful tribute to Manna Dey and S D Burman.

6 mumbaikar8 November 1, 2013 at 6:46 am

Thanks for the prompt reply.
My not addressing AK in the earlier post was an error and totally unintentional.
A 94 year old man was in and out of the hospital again again, you should have anticipated it.
I do agree that half of these songs would be part of his best songs.
Do not rush to stamp your theory for twin songs we may find some twin song that may be otherwise.
Doing comedy in classical was his forte.
The sad part of Piya tune kya seems complete to me.

Happy Diwali.

7 gaddeswarup November 1, 2013 at 10:05 am
8 dustedoff November 1, 2013 at 10:10 am

Wonderful tribute to two greats, AK – and what a fine combination they made. Thanks so much for this post. Piya main kya kiya was the only song I hadn’t heard before, and some of the songs, though I’ve heard them before, I’d forgotten about. Very enjoyable to listen to them all over again.

9 Ashok M Vaishnav November 1, 2013 at 10:28 am

It is indeed one of those ironies of life that one of the most expected article in “S D Burman’s greats” would include his ‘close’ association with Manna Dey.

I certainly agree that 40 songs they did together can be topics of several articles.

Among the 10 songs here, I f I have to choose one, my vote will always be “Mat Ro Mata Laal Tere Bahu Tere” SDB, Shailendra and Manna Dey ( a combination that again is a subject of several articles) present us ” कल मैं नहीं रहूंगा….. तारोंमें देखेगी तू एक हसता हुआ नया सितारा”.

10 AK November 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm

It is interesting that his song on Mehmood in Manzil became more famous than Hum dum se gaye on the hero Dev Anand. The curse of being ‘special’?

Sham dil badnam is from Naughty Boy. Interesting why Manna Dey’s voice should have been used for Kishore Kumar, when all other songs are in the latter’s. Though HFGK mentions Kishore Kumar’s name as the singer, perhaps erroneously.

In Bewaqoof songs you have mentioned, the snatches are so brief that I don’t think we can say conclusively say that Manna Dey sings for those few seconds. Then, how do they technically insert it seamlessly?

It is interesting when I wrote that about twin songs, I had exactly the same thoughts, the exceptions to the ‘Twin Rule’. But they will be ‘exceptions’, and it would be a good idea to list such songs. I have a theory for that also. If the main song is picturised as a female solo, and the male version appears later in the film in a short version in not a very prominent manner, the female version registers in memory. Typically in such cases, the commercial record of only female version would have been issued, or mostly the female version would have been played on the radio. Bachpan ke din bhula na dena is one such example. I would welcome more such examples.

Thanks a lot for the link.

Madhu, Ashokji.
Thanks a lot for your compliments.

11 Ashok M Vaishnav November 2, 2013 at 9:49 am

Here is a version that I had never heard
Yeh Kooche Yeh Neelaam Ghar Dil Kashi Ke Manna Dey Film Pyaasa Music SD Burman. –

12 AK November 2, 2013 at 11:30 am

This is interesting, but!

There is a general problem in singing a version of an iconic song. It is so much ingrained in the voice of the original singer that the version almost always comes out lesser. The same would be true if Rafi were to sing Hato kahe ko jhoothi banaao batiyan.

13 n.venkataraman November 2, 2013 at 11:49 am

That was knew to me. I do not think this version was there in the film. Is it a recorded version. Manna Dey version is also good. Thanks Ashokji.

14 mumbaikar8 November 2, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Thanks for this rare song.
Manna Dey in his younger days, when his uncle preferred Rafi over him or some song was apprehensive, but later in his life never hesitated to say that he believed that Rafi was a better singer than him, Kishore he said was a better entertainer. (I remember him saying that in NDTV’s interview). That was one his greatness too.
In Pyasa Rafi reached a height which, according to me, even SDB did not expect, before Pyasa SDB used Rafi for comedy or folk songs but after Payas he was addicted to him of course till Aradhana.
I wonder, for Pyasa, whether Rafi was SDB’s choice or Guru Dutt’s choice. If i was asked to guess my guess would be GuruDutt.
Baazi, Guru Dutt’s first movie was with Dev Anand, SDB was the music director and 1 male song was sung by Kishore after that Dev and Guru Dutt went their way Dev with SDB and Guru Dutt with OPN and with OPN Rafi got into Guru Dutt’s camp and always remained there.

Thanks once agin Ashokji.

15 Ashok M Vaishnav November 3, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Among several obituaries poured in , here are the two that talk of SDB- Manna Dey equation:

Manna & SD: A relationship beyond music
Manna Dey was in awe of just one man, SD Burman –

16 Jignesh Kotadia November 4, 2013 at 7:39 pm


Abhijitji and all soy members
A very happy new year wishes to everyone.

I heard several new melodious songs with u ppl in last year and i hope we shall continue to unearth unheard gems in new year too with same intense passion. Many Thanx for this joyful association and many sorries for my serial blunders of last year.

17 mumbaikar8 November 4, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Happy New year to each one Jignesh has mentioned and forgot to mentioned………… if any.
Jignesh what sorry and blunder are you talking about, woh to raat gayi baata gayi!

18 AK November 4, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Thanks a lot for your greetings on behalf of myself and all the SoY members. Some of us would be surprised, until we realise that in Gujarat the day after Diwali is regarded as the beginning of the New Year. I am sure you would have another round of greetings on the conventional New Year about two months away.

You have been a serial joy giver with all the songs you added. Please keep it up.

19 Jignesh Kotadia November 4, 2013 at 11:03 pm

@Mumbaikarji….thanx for reply wishes.

@Akji…thanx a lot

1st day, kartik month, vikram samvat (the day after diwali) is the Real New Year for we gujaratis. A very big day for us. 1st january doesnt appeal us too much, it’s like mere a change of day.

20 mumbaikar8 November 4, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Not only in Gujarat, even in mumbai , especially in business community, that is the New year. In Gujarati its “Besto Saal Mubarak”

21 N Venkataraman November 5, 2013 at 11:02 am

Thank you Jignesh. Very nice of you to remember all of us in moments of joy and celebration. Wishing you and all member of SoY, everything best under the sky.

22 Canasya November 9, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Belated Diwali wishes to AKji and SoY family. I had tried to post this earlier. But it did not go through. Some problems with my PC perhaps.

Although N Venkataraman ji had partly anticipated this post Manna Dey’s unforeseen departure has given it a poignant touch. AKji’s thoughtful tribute and the additions by Jignesh Kotadia ji, Mumbaikar8 ji, N Venkataramanji, Gaddeswarup ji, Ashok M Vaishnav ji, and Madhuji have made this post a journey of discovery. In the numerous Manna Dey eulogies that the media carried the last couple of weeks I noticed a constant refrain of ‘sympathy’ usually reserved for a valiant loser: many referred to him as the second best — first to Rafi & Mukesh and then to Kishore. To me he was the proverbial tortoise who came up trumps. He had the longest career among the male singers of Goldies and ended up singing over a thousand songs more across languages than either Mukesh or Kishore with a comparable hit rate. He was the most versatile singer with a range spanning from the highs of ‘Kaun aaya mere man ke dware’ to the lows of ‘O meri zohra zabin’. He did have couple of strikes against him, though.

One, we underestimate the handicap a singer has in a language other than mother tongue. Although Manna Dey’s pronunciation and delivery in Hindi songs was always perfect, it was still not as fluid as that of Rafi. This becomes clear when we compare his version of Pyasaa song mentioned by Ashok M Vaishnav ji @ 11 to Rafi’s.

Two, his wider range was probably a disadvantage in a winner-take-all world. A higher octave voice signifies young age and a slim physique – two attributes heroes wanted to convey (the same factor worked in favour of Lata and against Geeta/Shamshad/Asha while singing for heroines). There is a parallel in operas. Many mezzos have much wider range and can sing anything that a soprano (with a range concentrated in upper octave) can. But composers prefer sopranos for lead roles as the largest part of their vocal energy is in upper octave. The mezzo, although as capable of singing in the higher octave, has the largest part of vocal energy located in the slightly lower octave. Manna Dey sang fewer romantic songs in higher octave. Most of the time he was singing in a somewhat lower octave for the supporting cast.

Three, according to Bhattacharjee and Vittal, his reputation as a classical singer “put him on a pedestal that he himself found difficult to get off from. For example, would anyone dare approach Bade Ghulam Ali Khan to sing an around-the-trees duet?”

And four, Raju Bharatan finds a streak of diffidence in Manna Dey. “… Rafi, come 1970, no longer led the field, so that was the moment for Manna Dey to let music directors know that he was ready to take over – for starters – the number two spot rendered vacant as music director after music director proceeded to indulge Kishore Kumar as his latest vocal fancy. But Manna Dey made no visible move to assert his established class at this important juncture of his career in end-1969.”

I do not know what Manna Dey could have done in 1969 (although there are stories about Lata snatching songs and LP undercutting other MDs from films). But there is an interesting clip of Sulochana Dey also accusing him of diffidence!

I end this comment with a Miss India (1957) song ‘Thokar naseeb ki jo’:

23 AK November 9, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Thanks a lot for your exhaustive comment. On Manna Dey’s ranking vis-à-vis Rafi-Mukesh-Talat-Hemant Kumar, I have read all the write-ups, and Raju Bharatan’s ‘analysis’. One strand is he was too good to be popular, and the other that he was ‘diffident’. I am not convinced by either. Why don’t we simply accept that it has to do with ‘sur‘ vs ‘swar‘. Naushad put it more bluntly. I remember when at a very young age I was getting addicted to old film songs, while I greatly liked some songs of Manna Dey such as Ae mere pyare watan, I was getting charmed by the voice of Mukesh, Talat Mahmood and Hemant Kumar. Today I ‘know’ that Manna Dey was more versatile, musically far more capable, but ‘lesser’ singers remain my object of greater attraction. Probably, I am reflecting what many of my generation felt.

Heard the Miss India song for the first time. Thanks. Another genre in which he was typecast – old beggar songs.

Venkataramanji could not have expected ‘this’ post on October 23. But I did intend an SD Burman post for October 31, which I decided to shift next.

24 gaddeswarup November 11, 2013 at 10:16 am

You might have seen this already. Here is a reaction to a Manna Dey concert when he was 84

25 AK November 11, 2013 at 12:09 pm

You have again added a very interesting link. The author has written very fondly with a sweet sense of humour. It was all the more enjoyable as many of the familiar songs discussed here have been mentioned there. Thanks a lot.

I have also heard Manna Dey live in Delhi when he was on the wrong side of eighties. While the effort was admirable, the voice had indeed lost its timbre. But I had the satisfaction of watching a legend.

26 n.venkataraman November 12, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Thank you Gaddeswarup ji for providing the link to the blog ‘Man Panchi Albela’. As Akji has mentioned, It was interesting and enjoyable
In one place the author writes ‘The SJ onslaught really needed to be reduced, we both agreed on that one. What is it with SJ? 70% of the songs that evening were by them. And not a single song by SD Burman?.’
The author was eager to listen to Manna Dey singing more of S D Burman’s compositions. I can understand her feelings. Manna Dey had great respects for Shanker-Jaikishan duo. Let us see what Manna Dey has to say about SJ duo.
‘The other musical duo responsible for promoting my singing career were Shankar and Jaikishan. I am especially indebted to Shankarji, for had it not been for his patronage, I would certainly not have attained the heights of success I enjoyed in my career. Here was one man who knew how to bring out the best in me. No other music director, not even Sachin-da, for that matter took the trouble to do that. …………… Moreover, despite giving my best to his songs, and even after I had made my mark as a playback singer, Sachin-da did not ask me to sing on a regular basis for the films whose music he composed. Shankar-ji, was however different. ………’
I know many eye-brows will be raised. May be in future Akji may do a post on Manna Dey/ SJ-duo collaboration.

27 gaddeswarup November 13, 2013 at 11:48 am

As usual I found it accidentally trying to find information about Khursheed Bano. I also found that The Hindu article that I linked before perceptive and similar to what AKji has been saying. I got the impression that Mannay Dey’s relationship with Salil Chowdary was very cordial. I wonder whether there were more expectations with regard to
S.D.Burman because of their long association from early years.

28 Canasya November 15, 2013 at 12:40 am

I would like to thank Gaddeswarup ji @ 24 for the excellent link to Ritu ji’s blog ‘Man Panchhi Albela’. I had been to couple of similar concerts in India and abroad and can testify to ‘mismanagement’ by organizers that often extended beyond delayed start to skimping on quality electronics. I had also been fortunate enough to attend couple of Manna Dey’s concerts and recall his taking charge of equipment and accompanists exactly in the manner described by Ritu ji. Manna Dey seemed to be electronics savvy. But many other Indian musicians are not and their audiences often suffer needlessly. Leading artists such as Ravishankar relied on professional organizers. But I have seen perfectly good performances by people such as Hariprasad Chaurasia, N Ramani, and Yesudas ruined for poor hall acoustics and equipment.

One of the Manna Dey concerts I had attended was about a decade ago and his voice was as sweet and powerful as ever. The minor loss of suppleness and the slight inability to reach the highest octaves as in Dekh Kabira Roya and Chori Chori (as noted by Ritu ji) was amply compensated for by the clarity, firmness, and the immediacy of the live performance.

I would like to get the opinion of AKji and the rest of the SoY family on the following. In the months preceding the Manna Dey concert I had been to performances by Abhijit, Shaan, Lucky Ali and KK. So I could not avoid comparison. What struck me most while listening to Manna Dey was the sheer ‘maturity’ (manliness? power?) of his voice. By contrast, in several songs Abhijit, Shaan, Lucky Ali and KK sounded ‘immature’ — adolescent, with a voice that has just started breaking! I have noticed this even in the case of a number of songs of Udit Narayan, Kumar Shanu, Sonu Nigam, and Mohit (but not Kailash Kher, Shankar Mahadevan and the Pakistani singers). Perhaps MDs had asked them to sing in a voice mimicking pre-adults or teens to bolster the image of aging Khans romancing heroines half their age on the silver screen. That would enhance the value of these songs for the Khans, but would devalue their musical content. HFM singers of earlier generations (including Amit Kumar) never sounded immature.

N Venkataraman ji @ 26 and Gaddeswarup ji @ 27: The following article by HQ Chowdhury provides some insight into the ‘love-hate relationship’ between Manna Dey and SDB:

It seems SDB would rehearse a song with Manna Dey and then ask him to teach Rafi to sing it! In his autobiography (“Memories Come Alive”, p. 110) Manna Dey says that KC Dey used to do this to him (that is, polish a tune with him and ask him to record it in Rafi’s voice). SDB probably learnt the trick from his mentor (KC Dey).

29 AK November 15, 2013 at 11:14 am

If true, KC Dey and SD Burman had been very insensitive to Manna Dey’s feelings. Or was it their honesty rather than doing it in an underhand way?

Coming to your question, I heard Manna Dey live probably later than you, when the important thing was the nostalgia. I had the same feeling when I heard Mubarak Begum live early this year when she was very clearly past her singing. Among the current lot you have mentioned I have heard Sonu Nigam live. I have also heard Kailash Kher and Sudesh Bhosle live. The most important thing that struck me was that today’s singers are also ‘performers’ and rock stars. The noise hits you in the years. This is an extension of the status of songs in films. These have to be ‘item’ numbers, which can be played in discos or by marriage bands. I doubt if even the current music fans can recall the best songs of last year, their singers and music directors. Since the song has to be a dance number with the hero or the heroine surrounded by dozens of their friends, a demand has arisen that the actor ‘performing’ the song on the screen also needs to be given a share of copyright.

(Coming to your first point, some artistes were also known for their tantrums.)

30 Abhijit December 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Dear jigneshji,

For last 2 months I was travelling so much thatImissed your new year wish. Thanks & belated happy new year to you & your family & all the wonder people who helped me to enrich my knowledge.


31 Jignesh Kotadia December 14, 2013 at 11:56 am

You’re welcome Abhijitji..

32 mumbaikar8 January 3, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Making a correction on comment # 2 Lapak Jhapak wa not the precursor to Ek chatoor naar because ek chatoor naar wa not original but a copy of this song from Jhoola

33 AK January 3, 2014 at 10:54 pm

I was aware of the Jhoola song. Precursor I meant in the sense of comic picturisation in a group.

34 mumbaikar8 January 3, 2014 at 11:04 pm

The correction was not your statement but on my comment #2.
I had not idea about this Jhoola song.

35 ksbhatia February 6, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Mumbaikar8 ji, AK ji, Venkatraman ji, It will be a great favour to SJ’s fans to bring out top twenty songs of Mannadey, Manna-Lata and Manna-Asha duets . 50’s and 60’s were the peak years for all of them. Music of that era carried the unforgettable melodies of films like Awara, Boot Polish, Basant Bahar,Chori chori,Shri420,Zindagi etc. By the way i am unable to gather the name of male singer humming in the song…..Tim ka tima timba kahe kare achamba……by Lata and chorus in Chori Chori. Can some one enlighten me.

36 mumbaikar8 September 8, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Would it be wrong to think that SDB was influenced, for piya tune kya kiya in particular, and by Dilip Kumar Roy’s singing in general, after listening to this song?

37 AK September 8, 2014 at 6:49 pm

First of all I have to thank you for introducing me to Dilip Kumar Roy. You have been one of the greatest discoverers on SoY. His voice is awesome. I have to know more about him and hear him more. But yes, since, as per Wikipedia, he is from Bengal and senior to SD Burman, SDB must have been influenced by him. I am sure Venkataramanji would add a lot about him.

38 N Venkataraman September 8, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Awesome song indeed, Mumbaikar8 Ji.
Dilip Kumar Ray (1897- 1980) was another versatile genius from Bengal. He was a poet, a novelist, musician and spiritualistand etc.etc. He was the son of Dwijendra Lal Ray (1863 – 1913), who was a Bengali poet, playwright, and musician. He wrote and composed over 500 songs and his songs are known as Dwijendrageeti, a separate variety of Bengali music like Rabindrasangeet.
Akji, a lot can be said and written about both of them. May be at an appropriate occasion we can discuss about Dilip Kumar Ray and his music. I wish I could do a post on him and there were more than 24 hours in a day!
In my opinion Dilip Kumar Ray did not have any direct influence on S D Burman’s singing, although on hearing the song posted by you one may trace some influence. I am not sure.Krishna Chandra Dey used to sing Dwijendra Lal Ray’s songs and S D Burman being a student of K C Dey could have been influenced by D L Ray’s songs.

Nevertheless, the song posted by you is absolutely wonderful. Thanks a lot Mumbaikar8 Ji.

39 mumbaikar8 September 9, 2014 at 12:54 am

Thanks for the appreciation, I was not aware of this singer until ( I do not remember when I downloaded this song ) I heard this striking song, all the information I had about this song was the lyrics, first I assumed SDB was the singer then I thought may be K C Dey finally when l searched online, I was thrilled to discover Dilip Kumar Roy.
Venkataraman Ji,
Thanks for information about Dwijendra Lal Ray and Dwijendrageeti, I hope, soon you have some extra hours in your day, so that when can have a post on Dilip Kumar Roy and Dwijendrageeti from you.

40 AK September 9, 2014 at 3:19 pm

You would be surprised to know that I was quite familiar with DL Ray Senior (or Roy?). My school library had Hindi translation of his plays, and those days I used to read a lot. Now I forget the names of his plays. I vaguely remember they were historical plays, were they?

Now I am surprised that I did not know about Dilip Kumar Ray until Mumbaikar8 mentioned him, though I got to hear all kinds of music. I am surmising that for some reason AIR ignored him in the Hindi belt, and/or he was not commercially oriented and not many of his records were brought out. On some musicians being commercially diffident, I thought of Dhondutai Kulkarni, Kesarbai Kerkar’s sole disciple, mentioned in Namita Devidayal’s The Music Room. It is an interesting coincidence that I got to read about her again just now in one of the links Latha gave in her comments.

41 N Venkataraman September 9, 2014 at 8:02 pm

AK ji,
Dwijendra Lal Ray (D L Ray) was playwright too. He was a multifaceted personality. Yes, he wrote quite a few historical plays, like Rana Pratap Singh (1905), Noorjahan (1908, Mewar Patan (1908), Shahjahan (1909), Chandragupta (1911) etc.

Yes you are right. Dilip kumar Ray was not commercially oriented. He was spiritually disposed towards Rishi Aurobindo and unconditionally surrendered at the feet of his Guru. In his life he repeatedly refused lucrative positions in Benaras Hindu University, All India Radio, Annamali University etc. In 1954 he decided to retire to Pune with Indira Devi, where he established an Ashram. That is in a nutshell about Dada Ji, as he was referred to in his later life.

42 ASHOK M VAISHNAV September 9, 2014 at 9:29 pm

While working on a post on different ways in which Vande Mataram has been performed, we came across one version wherein M S Subbalaxmi has collaborated with Dilip Kumar Dey, in 1947.
Here is that clip:

43 ASHOK M VAISHNAV September 9, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Sorry, for the slip- please read Ray in place Dey in the name of Dilip Kumar Ray in my comment.

44 Abhijit September 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Thanks Venkatramanji for providing such valuable information related to both D.L. & D.K.Roy. I hope in future you will post a detailed treatise regarding both of them for the benefit of all music lovers. Thanks to Ashok ji also. I would also like add few more words as a further information specially about D.L.Roy.
D.l.Roy was a rare genius of his era. Poet composer,playwright,agriculturist,civil servant,freedom fighter all in one garb.His songs “Dhana Dhanya Pushpe Bhara”,”Uthogo Bharatalakkhi”,”Bangla Amar Janani Amar”(all avaible in You Tube abundantly)are still performed in stage & recorded also. His plays,Shahjahan in particular, is still popular among particular section of theater goers. Tragedy with him was that he was born in an era when Rabindranath Tagore was making his towering presence in every field of art & culture. Roy like many others got overshadowed by him. Unfortunately this thought always remained in the back of his mind. He started criticizing & making scathing remarks against Tagore. Sometimes it crossed the limit of decency & went up to the personal level. whether this virulent anti Tagore taken stance taken by him was only because of frustration & jealousy or because of something else is a matter of debate. In certain fields Tagore’s thoughts were much ahead of his time. A section of the 19th century society was just not able to keep pace with his ideas & went against him. This may be the reason also. I am for waiting for Venkatraman ji’s comment on it.

45 N Venkataraman September 10, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Abhjit Babu,
Yes, the information you have provided on D L Ray is correct. I have read about it earlier. Due to his intense beliefs and inherent frankness D L Ray might have made some derisive remarks about Rabindranath and his writings. Many of his contemporaries were also with him in this act and added fuel to the fire. That was an unfortunate part of D L Ray. I think it will be better if steer clear from this unfortunate controversy and concentrate on his positive contributions. I am sure you will agree with me on this. We cannot deny his greatness and his contribution towards Bengali literature. He experienced a lot of difficulties in his short life.

Well, Mumbaikar8 ji’s innocuous comment about the influence of Dilip Kumar Ray on S D Burman triggered this discussion. From S D Burman and Dilip Kumar Ray our discussion has drifted to D L Ray. Before Akji shows us the red card, let us defer our discussion to an appropriate forum in future.

Dhanyabad Abhijit Babu.

46 Abhijit September 11, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Thanks Venkatramanji,

I was doing a bit of research work on availability D.l.Roy songs in net when your message came in. Now I am saving it for future reference. I hope that AKji would excuse me for drifting so much from the main topic & would not show me the dreaded red card. In fact music is such a big ocean that sometimes drifting becomes inevitable. If so happens in future,caution from your end would be most welcome.

47 AK September 11, 2014 at 8:17 pm

Abhijit, Venkataramanji,
I enjoy such parallel melody. This is the main strength of SoY. I knew the father’s plays very well (Hindi translation) in my school days, which was fortuitous, because the school library had his books. Now I come to know about the son, whom there are greater reasons for knowing, but I was completely clueless about him. So there is a permanent Green Light from me for any such discussion.

48 N Venkataraman September 11, 2014 at 10:58 pm

AK Ji,
Thanks for your liberal thoughts. But I will stick to the old saying which my father used to utter often; ‘do not mistake liberty for licence.’

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