December 2008

Jagjit Singh. The name rings a bell, right? One of the foremost Ghazal singers of the modern times, he is renowned for his numerous melancholic and romantic Ghazals. Born to Sardar Amar Singh Dhiman (a Government official) and Sardarni Bachchan Kaur, he has earned accolades for helping the survival of Ghazals in the era of pop and rock. Gagjit singh was born in Ganganagar in state of Rajasthan on 8th February, 1941.  also known as ‘Jeet’ by his family, he is undoubtedly the most popular Ghazal singer currently.


Interestingly, he was a student of science during his higher secondary days. Later on he moved to arts stream during bachelors. But his interest in music saw him learning classical music from Pundit Chaganlal Sharma. He learned difrent classical forms like Thumri, Khayal and Dhrupad among others. His passion for music brought him to Mumbai. In fact, he was also supported in this decision by his father who was more than happy to his progress in this field. The year was 1965, when he arrived in dream city of Mumbai in search of success and fame. But then, like any other famous personality he also struggled in his initial days. New assignments were difficult to come by because of who’s who presence in Ghazal arena. That era was dominated by renowned personalities like Malika Pukhraj, Talat Mahmood, Noor Jehan, Begun Akhtar and incomparable Mehdi Hassan.  His initial assignments were basically performing at wedding functions and singing jingles for advertisements.


C.I.D was followed by movie ‘Naya Daur’ which also proved to be a big hit. Consequently she gave hits like Deewana Hua Badal, Isharon Isharon Mein, Aaiye Meherban, Ude Jab Jab Zulfein Teri and Aao Huzur Tumko etc. these songs brought her much needed appreciation and attention. Thereafter she collaborated with top notch music composers including S D Burman and sang duets with Kishore Kumar and Mohammad Rafi. She featured in hits like Kaala Bazaar, Lajwanti, Teen Deviyaan, Kaala pani, Insaan jag utha etc.


But her real years of fame came when she combined with R D Burman. Together they created magic in Indian music industry. Teesri Manzil was their first big hit together and it was followed by several others. They also married afterwards.


Asha Bhosle produced various hits for renowned dancer Helen. Songs list include, O Haseena Zulfon Wali (Teesri Manzil), and Yeh Mera Dil (Don), Jaane Jaa” from the movie Jawaani Diwaani, Piya Tu Ab To Aaja (Caravan) etc. her talent was also amply demonstrated in the song Hare Rama Hare Krishna. India’s one of the most romantic song Chura liya hai tumne was also sung by her and this song is still hummed by people.


She surpassed everyone’s expectations with movie in 1980’s with her Ghazals for the movie Umrao Jaan. This was her moment of self actualization. This movie proved that she was equally good at classical songs as other genres. The songs reflect elegance and class. 1990’s proved a different facet of her altogether when she combined with talented A R Rehman. They came together for movie Rangeela and rest they say is history. She proved that she can adjust with any notes and her versatility was proved beyond doubt. She has also belted out many pop albums and collaborated with western bands like Black Eyed Peas, Boy George etc. she is a winner of various awards including two national awards and eight filmfare awards.

Asha Bhosle needs no introduction. One of the most versatile singers of Indian music industry, Asha asha1Bhosle has continued to belt out hits after hits for almost 50 years. Even at the age of 70, she has not lost even a bit of her talent and charm. Most of the music composers of new generation including peerless A R Rehman still ask her to sing songs for them. It’s sheer magic to listen to her youthful songs and finding same exuberance in her voice. Whether it’s a ghazal or a cabaret or pop song, she is equally adept at all of them. Her style and energy is truly an inspiration for numerous emerging singers.


Born on 8th September, 1933 in a Marathi family, Asha Bhosle was daughter of renowned singer and actor Dinanath Mangeshkar. She took training in classical music and also dabbled in acting as a child artist. But as fate had it, she moved to playback singing following the footsteps of her elder sister Lata Mangeshkar. She did not had a fairytale story as she had to face struggle and had to constantly live under the shadow of peerless Lata Mangeshkar. 


She made her singing debut with movie named ‘Chunariya’ in the year 1948.  at the age of 16, she married to Ganpatrao Bhosle and this marriage proved to be a failure yet the figting Asha kept singing. It took her time to be first choice for music composers. She often got the songs which were rejected by top singers. But her perseverance paid off when she was spotted by O.P.Nayyar for movie C.I.D. She never looked back thereafter.

Manna Dey started his career as an assistant music director first, with his uncle and then legendary S.D. Burman in the year 1942. After continuing his work for a relatively long time, he began to work independently. In between, he also continued his classical music training. His first movie as a playback singer was ‘Tamanna’ in the year 1943. This was a duet with renowned singer Suraiya. The song proved to be a major hit and thereafter, he kept on getting numerous offers for singing. His second solo track ‘Upar Gagan Vishal’ was also a big hit. He also sang for Marathi and Bengali movies and along the way also established himself as numero uno Bengali playback singer.  


Manna Dey is known for his mesmerizing versatility. According to one story, he was adept at imitating any other singer’s voice but no other singer was able to sing the classical way he used to. Even legendary Mohammad Rafi once said, he himself listens to only Manna Dey’s songs. That comment itself shows his talent and popularity even amongst his peers. His reputation as best trained singer of the industry was ably reflected in his collaborations with great talents like Bhimsen Joshi and Kishore Kumar in songs ‘Ketaki Gulab Juhi’, ‘Yeh Dosti’ and ‘Ek Chatur Naar’. He was equally eefiecint in classical as well as popular filmy songs. He has sung songs in many languages and has also performed in many parts of the world. He has also received awards like National Singer of India, Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan from the Government of India.


In our series of luminary singers, Manna Dey is the next name. This post will talk about early life journey of this hugely talented gentleman singer.  It is often said that, he was the most talented singers among his contemporaries but he never got his real due because of reasons other than singing abilities. But, Manna Dey is undoubtedly one of the best singers that India has ever produced. A truly versatile singer, he has sung songs in all genres. A classical singer in his own rights, Manna Dey has belted out numerous hit songs. He was a contemporary of legends like Mohammed Rafi, Talat Mehmood, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar, Mahendra Kapoor etc.


Born to Purna Chandra Dey and Mahamaya Dey, Manna Dey showed inclination towards music from childhood. His uncle Krishna Chandra Dey, who was also a renowned music teacher, encouraged and inspired him for further knowledge in singing. He learned music from his uncle and Ustad Dabir Khan. He did his schooling and college studies from Scottish Church Collegiate School and Scottish Church College. He was also an excellent sportsman as evident by his performance in wrestling and boxing. He was also a proud owner of a rare trait of being sociable. Musicians are normally not known to be sociable and in general prefer a recluse life. But, Manna Dey was a different person with penchant towards playing pranks and always joking around in studio. Many musicians of that era still love to tell stories of this delightful person.