Manna Dey’s Non-film Hindi Gems on his 103rd Birthday

Nathli Se Toota Moti Re: A tribute to Manna Dey on his 103rd Birthday (b. 1 May 1919 – d.  24 October 2013)

Among his contemporaries- of 50s – Manna Dey was considered as versatile as others. His voice had unique strength even when being inherently soft. Devoid of any jerks, his voice radiated a feeling of eternal peace despite the extreme passion embedded in the rendition. As such the connoisseurs of film music fondly credited his voice to be capable of delivering the poetry along with music and melody. He was considered artist among fellow artistes and a singer of singers. It was perhaps his being so respectfully perched on a high pedestal that kept him away from being considered as ‘popular’, ‘mass’ singer.

However, I was lucky that my awareness, and in turn liking, for Manna Dey’s voice occurred during the very early years when I was unconsciously getting groomed to liking the films songs, much before I started reading about those divergent views about Manna Dey’s singing. As a result, all that I read about his singing never affected my very own liking for that enchanting voice.

That period was of that of the years of around 1966 to 1968, my second/third years of graduate=level engineering studies. The elder brother of my close classmate had recently joined in an executive position with a leading textile group of Ahmedabad after completing his MBA at IIM, Ahmedabad. His liking for Hindi film music had yielded into a hobby of purchasing vinyl records. We were quite raw in that field, however being ‘good’ friends of his younger brother, we were granted special privilege of listening to his records at my friend’s home. My friend’s brother was curating the collection of the records from the Hindi films of late 40s and 50s. As such, that opportunity introduced me to the voices of Suraiya, Shamshad Begum, Geeta Dutt. Interestingly, my induction to the voices of Manna Dey, Talat Mahmood and Hemant Kumar was through their non-film songs which we could get to listen in these visits. I particularly liked the non-film songs of Manna Dey so much that I would insist playing those couple of 45-RPM EP records every time we paid a visit to my friend’s place.

The three non-film songs of Manna Dey that got so etched onto my mind that when I started collecting records, in 70s, the EP records of these songs were among my first few purchases of records. These songs are:

Sajani….Nathli Se Toota Moti Re…. Kajarari AkhiyaN Rah Gayi Roti Re… – Lyrics: Madhukar Rajasthani – Music: Manna Dey

It is not at all surprising that our raw minds were totally impressed with way Manna Dey flows into the song from the very first note.

Ye Aawara Raatein Ye Khoyi Si Baatein, Ye Uljha Sa Mausam Ye Nazaron Ki Ghaatein, …. …..  KahaN Aa Gaye Hum, KahaN Jaa Rahe The – Lyrics: Madhukar Rajasthani – Music: V Balsara

When I must have heard this song first time then, I had surreptitiously looked closely on the cover of the record to ensure that that the singer was indeed Manna Dey, for I could not believe that he is the same singer who has rendered Nathli Se…..I was to realize much later about the versatility of voice and of his diverse range of singing styles.

NazraoN Mein Ho Tum KhayaloN Mein Ho Tum, Nazar Mein Tum Jigar Mein Tum JahaaN Mein Tum Hi Yum – Chandrashekhar Pandey – V Balsara

The song had made so deep impression my mind that after I purchased the record myself, I would keep playing the record at night after putting off the lights. In the process, I unconsciously started appreciating the nuances of different elements of a song.

I would have very easily continued with other ‘popular’ non-film Hind songs of Manna Dey which I used to listen through those records or cassettes or CDs that I had curated during 80s and 90s respectively. However, when I broached up my intention of writing this article to my son, Tadatmya, he sent me across a link of YT channel of Archisman Mozumder and urged me to listen to Manna Dey’s non film songs curated there. I listened to around ten fifteen songs over next couple of weeks. That was my re-incarnation to the Manna Dey’s non-film Hindi songs.

I then searched YT in greater depth and could get hold of, and still counting, more than forty or so songs that I had heard for the first time and a few songs that I had heard so rarely that those songs had totally vanished from my memory (what a shame!)

So, I will now present here, in no particular order, Manna Dey’s non-film Hindi songs from my that newfound treasure. I have limited the choice to one song per lyricist. I have also remained within the geets and ghazals genre only.

Tum Jaano Tumko Gair Se Jo Rasm-o-Raah Ho, Mujhko Bhi Puchhate Raho To Kya Gunah Ho – Lyrics: Mirza Ghalib – Music: Manna Dey

Commencing the mukhada in lower octaves, Manna Dey easily slips into higher octaves during the interludes, thereby portraying the emotions so sensitively.

We will observe during this episode that many of the non-film songs have been competently composed by Manna Dey himself, perhaps to give more space to his creativity that Hindi film songs did not offer, quantitatively as well as qualitatively.

Tum Mere Dil Meri Chahat Pe Bharosa Kar Lo, Ye Haqeeqat Hai Haqueeqat Pe Bharosa Kar Lo – Lyrics: Kafeel Azar – Music: Murli Manohar Swaroop

Just as we listen to the song emphasis on Mere Dil, Meri Chahat or Ye Haqeeqat or the first line of interludes, we effortlessly get intertwined into the mood of the song.

Tumhari Jafayein Hamari Wafayein Barabar Ki Chotein Barabar Ki Sadayein – Lyrics: Beena Naaz – Music: Murli Manohar Swarup

One big advantage of listening to non-film songs is to get to know so many poets / lyricists who generally remain away from the glare of film music.

In the present case, we also get to listen how Manna Dey has so effectively conveyed the feeling of resignation as lyrics build up the case of neglect that the protagonist has been subjected to by his ladylove.

O Yaad Phir Aayi Dard Sang Laayi Woh Na Aaye Jaan Jaaye, Haye Kaisi Ye Wafa – Lyrics: Chandreshekhar Pandey – Music: V Balsara

The sheer force of a V Balsara composition has led me to present one more song from the same pair of lyricist and music director.

As I listen to non-film compositions of V Balsara, I simply wonder what sort of constraints he must have felt when he set the music to his film songs so that such depth, such feelings, such serendipity could not be created in those songs!

Ruk Ja Ke Subah Tak Na Ho Ye Raat Aakhri…. Shayad Zindagi Ke Lamhaat Aakhri – Lyrics: Irfaan Warsi – Music: Yunus Malik

The way song unfolds we feel that we are deep into the night of a ghazal mehfil.

Shaam Ho Jaam Ho Suboo Bhi Ho, Khud Ko Paane Ki Justjoo Bhi Ho – Lyrics: Zameer Kazmi – Music: Yunus Malik

If the mood of the previous song drew us into the atmosphere of late night mehfil, here the lyrics help accentuate that feeling.

Chandrama Ki Chandni Se Bhi Naram Aur Ravi Ke Bhal Se Garam, Hai NahiN Aur Kuchh Kewal Pyaar Hai – Lyrics: Ramnath Awasthi – Music: Satish Butani

Lost in his own world of imaginations, Manna Dey’s voice also pills us into that world and the way he pronounces Woh Nahi Aur Kewal Pyar Hai in the end firmly leaves us wandering in our world of imagination.

Do Panchhi Bechain Nayan Ke Do Panchhi Bechain  .. Kho Baithe Hai Chain Nayan Ke …. – Lyrics: Laxman Shahabadi – Music: Shyam Sagar

The uploader of this clip has put a photograph of Manna Dey as if he in a trans while singing. Whether he meant it that way or not is obviously not known, but that image so aptly conveys how Manna Dey must have got so completely involved while rendering such a song.

Hamse Achhi To Farishton Ki Basar Kya Hogi …. Gam Ki Raunak Idhar Hai Udhar Kya Hogi – Lyrics: Gulzar – Music: Deepak Chatterjee

Gulzar at his vintage best mood as poet is so aptly reflected in Manna Dey’s pensive rendition.

Nach Re Mayura – Lyrics: Narendra Sharma – Music: Anil Biswas

Only Anil Biswas can so perfectly create the feeling of drizzling rain outside and only Manna Dey can so deftly present such a difficult composition with so deceptive ease.

Sunsaan Jamuna Ka Kinara, Pyar Ka Antim Sahara, Chandani Ka Kafan Odha So Raha Kismat Ka Maara, Kis Se PucchuN Main Bhala Ab Dekha KahiN Mumtaz Ko…  Meri Bhi Ek Mumtaz Thi – Lyrics: Madhukar Rajasthani – Music: Manna Dey

If Madhukar Rajasthani and Manna Dey swept us into the pensive mood in the opening song of this episode, they draw us into this total mood of pure pathos as we draw curtains to the present episode.

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer:

  1. I have relied upon to select the names of lyricists and music directors for the songs presented here.
  2. The song links have been embedded from the YouTube only for the listening pleasure of the music lovers. This blog does not claim any copyright over them, which rests with the respective owners of the rights.


This is the republished version of the post ‘Nathli Se Toota Moti Re: Manna Dey’s Non-film Hindi Gemson Songs of Yore.