Manna Dey was a legendary singer and man. With his passing away,an entire generation of talented singers has come to an end. He was one of the four giants of all time Kishore Kumar,Mukesh and Mohammad Rafi,apart from him. I am happy he was part of our lives.
Mannada was a part of the music industry for seven decades and that is a big feat,something unheard of,and very rare. Till the age of 90,he was on stage,singing for his fans. He was even recording till a few years ago. He sang 4,000 songs,including a number of regional numbers. He was such a versatile musician. He has sung the best-composed qawwali ever recorded Yeh ishq ishq hai.
Here was a man who,on one side would compete with a classical music legend like Bhimsen Joshi in Ketaki gulab,and on the other hand he sang a fun number like Ek chatur naar with Kishoreda. This is the sign of a genius. And even among the four greats,I believe he was the most versatile. No on could balance such different styles and excel in them as well as Mannada.
His music is timeless and we still listen to his songs in 2013. Some of his classics were created even before we were born,and they are still with us. Aye mere pyaare watan and Dil ka haal sune dilwala are iconic. He had the good luck of working with some fantastic music composers too. I make my children watch some movies from the 60s,such as Padosan and Teesri Manzil. They ask me about the music,the voice. And imagine,7-8-year-olds watching Padosan every day because they love the music. This is not the end because his music will live for generations to come.
He was classically trained,and the harkat and taan he would create would blow ones mind away. As musicians,we (Jatin-Lalit) have been inspired by his style in a way that we made Sonu Nigam do the same kind of harkats in a few songs.
As a singer,he was flawless. Mannada was all about music. He had no interest in life because music was his life. He dedicated his life to this art form and shared his music with one and all. Till two years ago,he was touring and performing. And thats the dedication he had. When we were kids,my sister Sulakshana used to sing on stage with him. I met him a few times at award functions after Dilwaale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. He would meet me very warmly,give me a hug,and once said,Acha kaam kar rahe ho. Karte rehna. I am happy to have just been blessed by him. –
As told to Somya Lakhani