Hindi Film World celebrates centenary birth year of Manna Dey. In a series of articles that I have planned to run in 2019 and 2020, I have tried to present songs from different angles, wherein focus is not on what is considered Manna Dey’s core niche areas, like classical songs, comedy songs etc.
We would confine our horizon of discussions to end decade of 70’s.
Satyajit Ray had once mentioned that listeners would be “more shocked than surprised if they were made to hear a voice outside a coveted set of six singers”. Maybe six was just an empirical number he had in mind, but throughout his career, Manna Dey certainly was not one of the six when the requirement was singing for the lead actor. He was always the seventh, in the role of a specialist.
Manna Dey (a.k.a Prabodh Chandra Dey – B: 1st May, 1919 /\ D: 24th October, 2013) was groomed into the classical singing, with extra eye for perfection, experimentation and complete dedication. He was so much singer to the core, that he might probably never have explicitly thought of shaping his career path on the more worldly success matrix.
He has recorded songs of types and hues in around 16 languages. His classical songs are remembered fondly by critics as well as the common listeners. His comedy songs earned so high a respect that he got typecast for these songs. In fact, every type of song genre that he touched, led to typecast him for that genre. However, as the destiny may have chosen not to bestow Manna Dey with the coveted ‘commercial’ recognition of That Hero’s Voice even he had string of exceptionally successful songs for the leading male actor of the film. Many of his sings in this category for so called B category films earned fame, that turned out to be not enough to earn long term success to the heroes of these films, was also not that longer.
In our today’s article we will try to remember his songs for the lead male actors of different times. Our aim is not seeking any ‘whys’, but to collect Manna Dey’s representative songs from the perspective of the contemporary lead actors on one-page.
As is well-known Manna Dey commenced his Hindi film song career with a duet, Jaago Aayee Usha Panchhi Boley with Suraiya for Tamanna in 1942. The song has been filmed on a beggar and his young assistant. Manna Dey played back for the beggar. His first song thus was a ‘beggar’ genre song. His second song was for film Ram Rajya (1943), a ‘bhajan’ genre song. However the wait for films which had strong social content and also had one of the three of Great Trinity of the lead male actors of Indian Cinema as the upcoming stars.
With Dilip Kumar
Manna Dey and Dilip Kumar have got together in Dilip Kumar’s debut film Jwar Bahata (1944). Manna Dey gets to sings Bhula Bhatka Path Hara Main Sharan Tumhari Aaya, Kah Do He Gopal, for which Anil Biswas composed music. The song is set to Bengal’s folk baul style, which the medicants used for their compositions. Dilip Kumar was the male lead, but the only song that he would have sang – Sham Ki Bela Panchhi Akela – on the screen was played back by Arun Kumar Mukherjee. Manna Dey has never played back for Dilip Kumar. Closest these titans can have been said to come is in Insaan Ka Insaan Se Ho Bhaichara, Yahi Paigam Hamara (Paigam, 1956; Music: C Ramchandra) which rolls around Dilip Kumar as the key protagonist and Manna Dey sings in the background.
With Dev Anand
It was as far as back as in 1947 that Manna Dey got to play back for Dev Anand, who was the lead actor for Aage Badho. HFGK credits the duet, Sawan Ki Ghatao Dheere Dheere Aana – (Music: Sudhir Phadake, Lyrics: Amar Varma) to Manna Dey and Khursheed, for Dev Anand and Khursheed respectively on the screen.
Even at the cost of being repetitive, it should be noted that the opinions are sharply divided along the loyalty lines in so far as credit for the male singer goes. Several other net-resources and many of Rafi’s keen listeners credit the male part of the song to Mohammad Rafi.
Manna Dey played back for Dev Anand again next year in Hum Bhi Insaan Hai (Music: H P Das, Assistant – Manna Dey; Lyrics: G S Nepali) . Ham Tere Hai Hamko Na Thukarana O Bharat Ke Bhagwan Chale Aana– is in the form of a prayer that Dev Anand, possibly as a teacher in the school or a children home type of institution. sings to the children.
Part 1 and Part 2 of the song, O Ghar Ghar Ke Diye Bujhakar Bane Hue Dhanwan , has idealist tone.
Dev Ananad and Manna Dey have, then, combined in Amar Deep (1958; Muisc C Ramchandra; Lyrics: Rajinder Krishna) triad dance song Is JahaN Ka Pyar Jutha. The first stanza focuses on Johnny Walker for whom, naturally, Mohammad Rafi has provided the playback. Dev Ananad commences second stanza @ 3.47 with a hearty alaap of Manna Dey to dancingly sing Ab Kahan Wo Pahele Jaise Dilbari Ke Rang ….
Amar Deep had a twin version duet Dekh Hamein Awaaz Na Dena, filmed on the lead pair Dev Anand and Vyjayantimala, which has Mohammad Rafi playback singing for Dev Anand. The film had one more obscure solo – Lene Ko Taiyar Nahi, Dene Ko Taiyar Nahi – which is also filmed on Dev Anand and played back by Mohammad Rafi
Hereafter, Manna Dey got to play back for Dev Anand only when S D Burman chose to offer some specific songs like Tak Dhum Tak Dhum Baje (Bombai Ka Babu,1960), Sanj Dhali Dil KI Lagi Thak Chali Pukar Ke (Kala Bazaar,1960; with Asha Bhosle); Chand Aur Mein Aur Tu, Aye Kash Chalate Milke – with Asha Bhosle-, Hamdam Se Mile Ham Dam Se Gaye and Ab Kise Pata Kal Ho Na Ho (Manzeel, 1960) etc.
Manna Dey did sing genuinely romantic songs for the hero in these songs, even if he was that ‘seventh’ choice.
Dev Anand – Manna Dey were brought together, once again. for one of the all time classics Chale Jaa Rahein Hai Kinare Kinare (Kinare Kinare, 1964; Lyrics: Nyay Sharma) by Jaidev.
With Raj Kapoor
Manna Dey was called on to sing for Raj Kapoor in Aawara (1951) in the classic two-song part dream sequence Tere Bina Aag Ye Chandani ….. Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi. Since then, Shanker Jaikishan have so profusely used Manna Dey’s voice for Raj Kapoor in RK films as well as other films that Manna Dey-Raj Kapoor- Shankar Jaikishan relationship can be dealt only as set of full-fledged articles.
Manna Dey’s voice has also been used quite extensively for Raj Kapoor by other music directors as well.
I have selected two songs to present the glimpse of the relationship –
Duniya Ne To Mujhko Chhod Diya, Khub Kiya Are Khub Kiya – Sharda (1957) – C Ramchandra – Rajendra Krishna
Has Kar Hassa Masti Mein Ga, Kal Hoga Kya Hoga Ky Bhul Jaa – Bahurupiya (Shelved) (1964) – Shanker Jaikishan – Shailendra
Manna Dey’s playback singing relationship with the Trimurti of Indian Films – Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor – has so far followed the Manna Dey’s career in the chronological sequence. So, we will follow the similar pattern to explore his playback singing relationship with other mainstream male lead players.
With Ashok Kumar
Manna Dey’s first major association with Ashok Kumar was for the film Mashaal (1950) where he was assisting S D Burman. Upar Gagan Vishal for that film is considered to be the game changer for S D Burman as well as Manna Dey. However, it is not filmed on Ashok Kumar’s lips in the film.
During ‘50s, Ashok Kumar did maintain the status of a lead male actor, but generally not as the romantic hero. This probably created an ideal platform for Manna Dey’s playback singing relationship with Ashok Kumar. Manna Dey sings two songs for Ashok Kumar in Savera (1958, Music – Shailesh Mukherjee; Lyrics – Shailendra). The first one, a duet with Lata Mangeshkar, Chuuppa Chuppi .. Aagad Baagad Jae Re, is light-mood duet, addressed mainly to the children in the film.
The other one, A solo filmed on Ashok Kumar, Jeevan Ke Raaste Hazar – is a background song.
It was in the same year that Ashok Kumar lip-synced Manna Dey in Baabu Samjo Ishare (Chalati Ka Naam Gaadi, with Kishore Kumar; Music – S D Burman; Lyrics;ajrooh Sultanpuri), wherein Manna Dey matched notes by notes Kishore Kumar’s theatrics.
Ashok Kumar – Manna Dey got together for Jaa Re Beiman Tujhe Jaan Liya (Private Secretary, 1962; Music Director – Dilip Dholakia; Lyrics – Prem Dhawan), a comic-situation oriented classical-based song.
in 1963, S D Burman used Manna Dey as playback singer for Ashok Kumar in Meri Surat Teri Aankein for an Ahir Bhairav benchmark Hindi film song, Poochho Na Kaise Maine Rain Bitayi (Lyrics – Shailendra). However parallel use of Mohammad Rafi for a playful semi-classical Naache Man Mora Tikra Dheegi Dheegi succinctly epitomizes the entire career of Manna Dey – respected on high pedestal, but not preferred normally, exceptions accepted.
Anurodh (1977) also has a twin Manna Dey – Ashok Kumar song Tum Besahaara Ho To (Music: Laxmikant Pyarelal; Lyrics: Anand Baxi). The first version is a happy version, where Ashok Kumar playfully sings the message to the children.
Second version is more in the form of a prayer, that also provides strong vibes to the main protagonist, Vinod Mehra as well.
We will continue our Manna Dey memoirs and take up Manna Dey’s songs for the ‘next-gen’ lead actors who entered Hindi Cinema in ‘50s.
 On Manna Dey’s 100th Birth Anniversary, a Look Back at His Journey