From classical numbers and qawwalis to romantic duets and fast-paced songs, singer Manna Dey has employed his deep voice to create a range of memorable melodies. He was born as Prabodh Chandra Dey in Calcutta; the name “Manna” was given to him by his uncle K.C. Dey, a renowned actor-singer and star of New Theatres. K.C. Dey had a big influence on Manna Dey, who grew up to be acquainted with musical styles as diverse as thumri, bhajan, and qawwali.
After graduating from Vidyasagar College, Calcutta, Manna Dey was taken to Bombay by K.C. Dey. Here he began by working as an assistant to music director H.P. Das. He made his film debut as singer in Vijay Bhatt’s Ramrajya. This was followed by years of struggle. Nitin Bose’s Mashaal, with the hit number Upar gagan vishal, proved to be Manna Dey’s breakthrough project. The singer then went on to display his versatility. He could render the classical strains of Laaga chunri mein daag (Dil Hi To Hai) with as much ease as the peppy Aao twist karen (Bhoot Bangla).
Dey formed a successful partnership with leading female playback singer Lata Mangeshkar, among others. Together they sang such popular duets as Pyar hua ikraar hua (Shri 420), Jahan main jaatee hoon waheen chale aate ho (Chori Chori), and Ritu aaye ritu jaaye sakhi ri (Humdard). Deys other hits include Tu pyar ka sagar hai (Seema), Zindagi kaisi hai paheli haay (Anand), Ae meri zohrajabeen (Waqt), and Ae mere pyare watan (Kabuliwala). In 1971, he received the Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer for Ae bhai zara dekh ke chalo from the film Mera Naam Joker. Despite the success of his songs, Dey maintained a low profile and largely remained in the shadows of giants such as Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar.
Manna Dey has sung in several regional languages; one of his most popular songs was a solo in Chemmeen (1965), a National Film Award-winning Malayalam feature. He also rendered his voice to record Harivanshrai Bachchan’s famous poem, Madhushala – (Source :- Encyclopaedia of Hindi Cinema)