Manna Dey

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.