Theres a Manna Dey song to get you through friendships and heartbreaks,match your patriotic zeal or answer an existential question. Heres a playlist of some of his best:
Yaari Hai Imaan
From the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Zanjeer,this number remains an anthem of friendship to this day. It ranks right up there with Yeh dosti hum nahin todenge another Dey song from another Bachchan film,Sholay.
Ek chatur naar
This comic composition I sang with Kishore Kumar readily won Indian hearts, writes Dey in his autobiography,Memories Come Alive. The song from Padosan was filmed as a musical rivalry between Mehmood and Sunil Dutt. Interestingly,the (recording) session had taken on the magnitude of a duel between him and Kumar,both singing to their strengths. Any wonder that Ek chatur naar emerged as a winner and is popular even now?
Zindagi kaisi hai paheli
Rajesh Khanna on the beach in Anand,his joie de vivre defying the shadow of death,and Dey singing about the incomprehensible riddle of life.
Aye mere pyare watan
Deys robust voice ebbs and flows with poignancy as he sings a patriotic ode in Kabuliwala. It is a staple at Independence and Republic Day events,and can form a background score when you feel emotional about your country.
Aye meri zohra jabeen
Saahir Ludhianvis lyrics are matched by the romance of Deys voice. The qawwali from Waqt has been remixed and served up for modern generations. But the original remains a classic.
Laga chunari mein daag
In this song from Dil Hi Toh Hai,filmed on Raj Kapoor,we can see Deys firm classical background.
Tu pyar ka sagar hai
A bhajan from Seema gives spirituality a melody as it calmly looks at the power of the Almighty.
Kasme vaade pyar wafa
The cry of a thwarted lover,this song from Upkar is the first that Dey sang for Kalyanji-Anandji. He often recounted how Lata Mangeshkar once called him to say,The melody haunts me so relentlessly that I am often tempted to cancel my own recording sessions.
Aao twist karein
RD Burman had composed this song for Dey and when the producer of Bhoot Bangla suggested some other singer,Burman lost his temper. He won the argument and Dey sang what he calls,the first Indian rap song that went on to become a runaway hit.
Pyar hua iqraar hua
Dey sang for Raj Kapoor in several films and this Shri 420 number is counted among the Bollywood evergreens. It was famously filmed on Kapoor and Nargis in the rain,shielded by a black umbrella but even without the accoutrements,it is a go-to song for romantic evenings.
Tum bin jeevan kaisa jeevan
After finishing his chores in Bawarchi,Rajesh Khannas character breaks into this angsty,soulful number that we,too,wistfully hum along to.