Famed Indian singer Manna Dey died Thursday, October 24, 2013 in a Bangalore hospital. Mr. Dey had been in increasingly poor health in recent months, including several hospitals stays for a respiratory infection and renal problems. He succumbed early Thursday morning due to cardiac arrest. Mr. Dey was 94.
Born Prabodh Chandra Dey on May 1, 1919 in Calcutta, India, Mr. Dey began his musical career in earnest after flirting with music in early school productions and a college career filled with sports by beginning his musical studies with his uncle Krishna Chandra Dey and Ustad Dabir Khan. Traveling to Bombay in the early 1940s with Krishna Chandra Dey, Manna Dey began working as an assistant music director under the elder Dey, before working with Sachin Dev Burman and launching his own career as a music director on Hindi films, all the while continuing his studies in classical Hindustani music with Ustad Aman Ali Khan and Ustad Abdul Rahman Khan.
Mr. Dey’s playback singing caught the public’s attention with the duet with Suraiya “Jago Aaye Usha Ponchi Boley Jago” for the 1942 film Tamanna. He would go on to perform for films like Kadambari, Kamala and Vikaramaditya and sing duets with Amira Bahee and Meena Kapoor early in his career. Singing in Hindi, Bengali, Assamese, Marathi, Kannada, Punjabi and Bhojpuri, Mr. Dey performed more than 3,500 songs throughout his career and sang for Bollywood stars like Raj Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna and Dharmendra. His film career includes more than 120 films and received praise for popular songs like “Pyaar Hua Ikrar Hua” and “Ae Meri Zohra Zabeen.”
Earning the honored titles of Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan, Mr. Dey received countless awards throughout his career like the 1969 National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for the Hindi Film Mere Huzur, the 1972 Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer for Mera Naam Joker, the 1999 Kamala Devi Roy Award by Kamala Devi Group, the 2004 National Award as Playback singer by Government of Kerala, the 2005 Lifetime Achievement award by the Government of Maharashtra and the 2011 Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mr. Dey is survived by daughters Shuroma and Sumita and a son-in-law Jnanranjan Deb. Mr. Dey’s wife Sulochana Kumaran passed away earlier in January of 2012. The public have be allowed a brief period to pay respects on Thursday at Ravindra Kalakshetra before Mr. Dey’s remains will be cremated at the Hebbal cemetery.