Before presenting to you a concise list of my favorite Manna Dey songs I would like to say a few words about this touching interview of the great singer published in The Pioneer. The editor of The Pioneer, Chandan Mitra begins the interview with the following question:
Many people say you are film world’s most under-rated and under-recognised singers despite being so phenomenally talented. Does this bother you?
It used to. I would be very hurt at being overlooked when it came to singing for the hero. Some music directors, such as Naushad saab, never used me, always relying on Rafi for the male voice. As a result, I never sang for Dilip Kumar. In my days of struggle, some producers were positively indecent.
It is true that Manna Dey didn’t enjoy the sort of fan following that mainstream singers like Rafi, Kishore, and to an extent even Mukesh enjoyed. His voice was not the typical “hero” voice. It was too refined, too mature, to become a part of a typical Bollywood hero repertoire. But it doesn’t mean that he was under-rated. Some of the best songs were sung by him. Whenever there was a song that demanded excellence but it wasn’t necessarily sung for the quintessential Hindi-movie hero, you would hear Manna Dey singing it, whether it be Jeevan chalne ka naam, Yaari hai imaan meraa or Naa to karavan ki talaash hai. He did actually sing for mainstream singers like Rajesh Khanna (Zindagi kaisi hai paheli hai), Raj Kapoor (Ye raat bheegi bheegi) and Raj Kumar (Har taraf ab yahi afsaane hain) and I’m not listing all of them.
Anyway, here is a compilation of my favorite songs sung by Manna Dey:
Nadiya chale chale re dharaa chandaa chale chale re taara
Door hai kinaara
Phir kahin koi phool khila
Too pyaar ka saagar hai
Umad ghumad kar ayi re ghata
Dil ki girah khol do
Ai bhai zaraa dekh ke chalo
Raat gayi phir din aata hai
Tum gagan ke chandrama ho mai dharaa ki dhool hun
Chalat musaphir moho liyo re pinjare waali muniya
Zindagi kaisi hai paheli hai
Jeevan chalne ka naam chalte raho subaho shaam
Ye raat bheegi bheegi
Kasme vaade pyaar wafaa sab baate hain baaton kaa kyaa
Tum besahara ho to kisi kaa saharaa bano
Tere naina talaash karein jise wo hai tujhi main kahin
Poochho na kaise maine rain bitayi
Taaqat watan ki humse hai
Bhor aayi gaya andhiyaara
Tum bin jeevan kaisa jeevan
Aayo kahan se ghan shyaam
Note: Strangely I couldn’t find complete version of this song, so if you do, do let me know.
Jhanak jhanak tori baaje payaliya
Weirdly he got his first National award in 1971 for this song, so late show, after having sung so many excellent songs.