HIS VOICE has a quality that can lift sagging spirits. Even today, after several decades, compositions sung by him vibrate in our minds. A flawless singer, Manna Dey’s songs covered a wide spectrum of emotions – from soulful (Aye Meri Zohra Jabeen) to romantic (Pyar hua iqraar hua, Aaja Sanam, Yeh Raat Bheegi Bheegi), fast numbers (Aaoo twist karen, Jhoomta mausam mast mahina), full of patriotic feeling (Aye mere pyare watan) to spiritual compositions (Tu pyar ka saagar hai).
Each song served to prove his versatility and the mellifluous character of his voice.
Notwithstanding several musical reformations and technological advancements now, it is still old numbers that strike a chord. Why have the notes lost their sustainability? “The main reason for the downslide in the musical landscape is that songs have become bereft of emotional meaning. Look at the Devdas of yesteryears and Devdas of Shahrukh Khan.
The former was so intense in musical rhythms. On the contrary, ‘Dola Re’ of the new version was so superfluous,’’ he told Hindustan Times.
Acknowledging that there had been some ‘positive’ changes in the music scenario, he said, “Despite change in compositions and musical recipes, the basic emotions are missing. Lyrics have also metamorphosed to keep pace with the contemporary times. Unfortunately, the purity of our music has been sullied.”
“I have seen some of the old songs being picturised in a glamorous and vulgar manner. There can be nothing more unfortunate than this,” he said, adding, “Even in television we don’t find any programme that offers pure Indian music. This is the reason why GenNext is oblivious to the purity of
our musical heritage. It is indeed sad that today’s generation has not had a taste of the golden era of music.” What was his take on fusion? “Well, fusion is just an amalgamation of western beats with Indian lyrics. This is not in consonance with the purity of our music.”
After lending his voice for ‘Umar’ was he planning to sing for more movies? “I am prepared to sing, provided it suits my age and my musical leanings.”
Manna Dey has lent his voice to a plethora of actors. Which hero did he feel gelled best with his voice?
“This is a difficult question. I have sung for Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Balraj Sahni, Mehmood and ‘n’ number of others, and I enjoyed each of my songs. I have always worked with honesty and total involvement.”
Did he ever try his hand at penning songs? “No, I was always content with singing,” he said. Lastly what was music to him? “It is divine. It is the mode to reach God.”