Renowned film playback singer Manna Dey, who sang in several Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali and Malayalam and enthralled several generations of movie-goers in the country with his mellifluous voice, passed away in the early hours of today at a private hospital in Bangalore.
He was 94. He is survived by his daughters Shuroma and Sumita. His wife Sulochana predeceased him last year. His funeral will be held later in the day today.
Narayana Hridayalala spokesman K S Vasuki told NetIndian that Dey was being treated at the hospital for the past four months for respiratory illness and associated problems.
The singer was in and out of the intensive care unit (ICU) of the hospital during this period. When he was in the step-down ICU, he used to interact with close members of his family and listen to music, hospital sources said.
He breathed his last around 3.50 am today, Mr Vasuki said. The singer's daughter and son-in-law were present when the end came.
Sources said Dey's body would be kept at the Ravindra Kalakshetra here from 10 am to 12 noon to enable his admirers to pay their tributes.
Born on May 1, 1919 as Prabodh Chandra Dey, the singer was to become better known by his nickname Manna Dey as he built a formidable career as a playback singer for films.
During an illustrious career that lasted more than six decades, he recorded more than 3500 songs and won several awards.
Among others, he won the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for the Hindi film "Mere Huzoor" and the Bengali film "Nishi Padma".
He also won the Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer for Mera Naam Joker in 1972 and the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
The Government honoured him with the Padma Shri in 1971 and the Padma Bhushan in 2005 and chose him for the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the top honour in Indian cinema, in 2007.
Dey, who was trained in classical traditions, started his career in playback singing with the movie Tamanna in 1943 and never looked back.
Over the years, he came to be loved and admired for his sheer versatility and the ease with he rendered complex classical music-based numbers, qawallis, ghazals, bhajans and fun-laced songs.
Some of his famous songs include “Laga Chuneri mein daag”, “Pyaar hua iqraar hua”, “Ye raat bheegi bheegi”, “Kasme wade pyaar wafa”, "Ek Chtur Naar", "Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli", "Ae Meri Zohrajabeen" and "Yaari Hai Imaan Mera".
Popular films for which he lent his voice included Awaara, Do Bigha Zamin, Mera Naam Joker, Bobby, Zanjeer, Padosan and Sholay.
Other languages in which Dey sang included Assamese, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati, Punjabi and Bhojpuri.
Dey studied at the Scottish Church Collegiate School and the Scottish Church College in Kolkata. He graduated from Vidyasagar Colelge.
He was a regular performer in school shows and later took singing lessons from his uncle Kishore Chandra Dey and Ustad Dabir Khan.
In the early 1940s, Dey worked as an assistant director under his uncle and then under well-known composer Sachin Dev Burman and others, before branching out independently.
After Tamanna, he sang for films like Kadambari, Kamala and Chaltey Chaltey for composers like anil Biswas and Jafar Khurshid and many of the songs became chart-busters.
He sang for Burman in the 1950 movie Mashal, which launched a long association between the two. Duets with Shamshad Begum, Lata Mangeshkar, Geeta Roy (Dutt) and Asha Bhonsle as well as Kishore Kumar followed.
By the mid-50s, Dey become popular in the film industries of other Indian languages. After his songs for Do Bigha Zamin, composed by Salil Choudhury became hits, the composer made him sing in his assignments for Bengali and Malayalam films.
Dey, whose wife Sulochana Kumaran was a Malayalee, sang two songs in Malayalam, and both became huge hits -- Maanasamaine Varoo from Chemeen in 1975 and Chemba Chemba from Nellu (1974), both composed by Choudhury.
Dey also had a long association with the music composer duo of Shankar-Jaikishan and actor-producer Raj Kapoor in films like Shree 420, Chori Chori and Mera Naam Joker.
In the years that followed, the singer worked with several of the top names in the music industry, including Naushad, K Dutta, Vasant Desai, Ravi, Avinash Vyas, Husanlal Bhagatram, O P Nayyar, Ghulam Mohammed, Bipin Dutta, Rabin Banerjee, Roshan and Sapan Jagmohan.
Later, new composers like Kalyanji-Anandji, Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Rahul Dev Burman also began to engage him regularly. With R D Burman, he sang the westernised numbers Aao Twist Karen and Pyaar Karta Ja, which hit the charts in 1965.
Some of his popular numbers during this phase included "Lapak Jhapak Tu Aa Re" from Boot Polish(1954), "Tu Pyar Ka Sagar Hai" from Seema(1955), "Yeh Kahani Hai Diye Aur Toofan Ki" from Diya Aur Toofan (1956), "Humdum Se Gaye" from Manzil (1960), "Aye Mere Pyare Watan" from Kabuliwala (1961), "Laga Chunari Mein Daag" from Dil Hi Toh Hai (1963), "Sur Na Saje" from Basant Bahar (1956), "Kaun Aya Mere Mann" from Dekh Kabira Roya (1957), "Pucho Na Kaise Maine Rain" from Meri Surat Teri Aankhen (1963), "Jhanak Jhanak Tore Baje Payalia" from Mere Huzoor (1965); "Kisi Chilman Se" from Baat Ek Raat Ki (1962), "Chalat Musafir Moh Liya" from Teesri Kasam (1967), "Aao Aao Sawariya", "Masti Bhara Yeh Sama" from Parvarish(1958), "Nain Mile Chain Kahan" from Basant Bahar(1956), "Kehdoji Kehdo Chupaona Pyar" from Kismat Ka Khel (1956), "Tum Gagan Ke Chandrama" from Sati Savitri (1964), "Dil Ki Girah" from Raat Aur Din (1966), and "Chunari Sambhal Gori" from Baharon Ke Sapne in 1967.
Apart from Raj Kapoor, Dey regularly lent his voice for popular comedian Mehmood and character actor Balraj Sahni. Later, he sang for superstar Rajesh Khanna. He sang several popular duets with Mohammed Rafi, the reigning star of playback singing of those years.