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Manna Dey’s Favourite Hindi Film Songs

October 25, 2013 | By

Out of his large repertoire, Manna Dey’s had his own favorite Hindi film songs and for particular reasons.

Manna Dey came into playback singing by chance. He had arrived in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1942 to chalk out a career in the film industry, and got his first break in playback singing with a duet with Suraiya “Jaago jaago aayee usha” in the film Tamanna in 1942, under the music direction of his uncle K C Dey.

But it was only in 1943 that he got his first solo break with  “Gayi tu gayi Seeta sati“(Ram Rajya, 1943), under the music direction of composer Shankar Rao Vyas. Manna Dey chose to sing the songs in his uncle’s distinct style. And thus started the illustrious career with the first song.

Manna Dey’s Personal Favourites

Out of his large repertoire of over 3,500 songs recorded over 7 decades (1943-2013), Manna Dey had his own favorite Hindi film songs and for particular reasons.

Listed below are 18 of his favourite songs and his thoughts about the same, sourced from the book Bollywood Melodies: A History of the Hindi Film Song.

Ritu aaye ritu jaaye sakhi with Lata Mangeshkar
Film: Humdard
Music composer: Anil Biswas

“There hasn’t in my opinion, been a better classical song ever in Hindi films.”

Laaga chunri mein daag
Film: Dil Hi To Hai
Music composer: Roshan

“Ketaki gulaab juhi champak ban phoole” with Pt. Bhimsen Joshi
Film: Basant Bahar
Music composer: Shanker-Jaikishan

“I protested to Shankar, saying it is ridiculous that I beat Bhimsen Joshi in that song, as he was a great classical singer in his prime then. But the director and Shanker insisted, and the song was recorded. I couldn’t believe it when Joshi saab came and told me after the recording that I sang very well. He, in fact, advised me to become a full-time classical singer!”

Preetam daras dikhao with Lata Mangeshkar
Film: Chacha Zindabad
Music composer: Madan Mohan

Har taraf ab yahi afsaane hain”
Film: Hindustan Ki Kasam
Music composer: Madan Mohan

“When I asked him (Madan Mohan) why he wanted me for the song, he told me he wanted a cultured and sophisticated voice for the character of an army officer. I was happy.”

Tere naina talash karein
Film: Talash
Music composer: S D Burman
“RD’s contribution to that was much more than Sachin-da’s.”

“Aao twist karein
Film: Bhoot Bangla
Music composer: R D Burman
“It proved that I could as easily sing a Western tune as classical.”

Aye meri zohra jabeen
Film: Waqt
Music composer: Ravi
“I’d also mention the qawwali from Waqt as my favourite. ‘Aye meri zohra jabeen’ was based on an Afghan song and composer Ravi masterfully adapted it to a qawwali. It required restraint and sweetness more than power as a middle aged man sang it in the film to his middle aged wife.”

Kasme vaade pyar wafaa sab
Film: Upkar
Music composer: Kalyaji-Anandji
“The day after I sang the song, I got a call from Lata Mangeshkar who told me that she was moved to tears when she heard the song at a recording.”

Tu hai mera prem devata with Mohd. Rafi
Film: Kalpana
Music composer: O. P. Nayyar

Tum gagan ki chandrama ho
Film: Sati Savitri
Music composer: Laxmikant-Pyarelal

Yeh dosti, hum nahin todenge
Film: Sholay
Music composer: R D Burman
“I have always felt that when my voice comes after Kishore’s, it has something lacking.”

Re man sur mein gaa
Film: Laal Patthar
Music composer: Shanker-Jaikishan

Chham chham baaje re paayalia”
Film: Jaane Anjaane
Music composer: Shanker (after he split with co-composer Jaikishan)
“Truly a great composer (Shankar), one who was always experimenting.”

Kaun aaya mere mann ke dwaare and “Bairan ho gayi rain”
Film: Dekh Kabira Roya
Music composer: Madan Mohan

“For me the real challenge in the film was the other classical composition in Raaga Jaijaiwanti, “Bairan ho gayi rain” where I had to prove my vocal virtuosity with all the intricate taans.”

Sur naa saje
Film: Basant Bahar
Music composer: Shanker-Jaikishan
“All the improvisations, all the intricacies in both songs (“Sur naa saje” and “Bhay bhanjana“) were my own”

Bhay bhanjana
Film: Basant Bahar
Music composer: Shanker-Jaikishan

The full interview is published in Bollywood Melodies: A History of the Hindi Film Song.


A collection of Manna Dey’s best known
& most popular songs


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