24 October, 2020

Manna Dey Diary

On Manna Dey's birth centenary, a diary about the legendary singer.

Manna Dey Diary
Manna From Heaven

Even if you are an artiste of supremely protean talent, life can throw unexpected challenges at you. For Manna Dey, whose birth centenary falls on May 1, that moment came when he was asked to do Ketaki Gulab Juhi with Bhimsen Joshi for the 1956 film Basant Bahar. Problem was, he had to defeat Bhimsen! He could not stomach that—how could he, a mere playback singer, win over a full-fledged khayal maestro? It took all the persuasive powers of Shankar Jaikishan to move him. Bhimsen himself told Manna Dey, with gentle wit, “I’ll teach you how to defeat me!” The song was finally recorded in five takes, and ended with Bhimsen complimenting Manna. Even for someone who became an iconic figure in playback singing, that would have been a most cherished ketaki-gulab in his bouquet. A mark of his proverbial versatility, which he acquired with great effort, as a kind of compensation for not being the typical...



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