Be it Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli, Aye Meri Zohra Jabeen or Yaari Hai Imaan, Manna Dey’s soulful renditions will continue to mesmerise generations to come, even if he is no more. One of the last singing legends of the golden era, the 94-year-old Padma Bhushan and Dadasaheb Phalke awardee passed away at a Bengaluru hospital post a respiratory illness and renal failure in the wee hours of Thursday morning. Shocked and saddened, Bollywood expressed their condolences for Dey, who had sung over 4000 songs in several Indian languages.
“There was no one else like him who could do Ek Chatur Naar or Ae Bhai Zara Dekke Chalo with as much ease as he would sing Pyaar Hua Ikraar Hua. He was a gentleman with so much of style,” says singer Usha Uthup. “He was a singer with an amazing range and when I rendered the duet Mausam Ayega Jayega with Manna Da, he simply overshadowed me with his knowledge of base and classical range,” says yesteryear singer Suman Kalyanpur.
Filmmaker Subhash Ghai fondly remembers him, saying, “Since my school days, I have been listening to his songs... he sang ‘Hai Jindri’ for me in Vishwanath (1978).” Singer Suresh Wadkar says, “I used to perform live with him also. Kavita Krishnamurthy and I used to be really close to him. We never wanted to let him go.”
Music composer Anandji of Kalyanji-Anandji duo is also shocked. “We’ve been doing shows and songs since the ’50s. I have lost my big brother and guide,” says the 80-year-old. “I was fortunate to have worked with him. He was a genuine person and had no airs about his talent,” says singer Anuradha Paudwal.