Manna Dey is renowned Indian playback singer and musician. He is one of the legendary figures in Indian music industry. He is one of the versatile singers who can sing any type of song from classical, romantic, patriotic, fast numbers to slow and soulful. The veteran singer has won many prestigious awards including Filmfare, Padmasree, Padmabhusan and even National Award as Best Playback Singer.
His real name is Prabodh Chandra Dey, who popularly known as Manna Dey. Manna Dey was born on May 1, 1919 in a Bengali family. Manna Day attracted towards music due to his uncle's influence on him. His paternal uncle Krishna Chandra Dey was a well-known singer and actor of New Theatres company. He was loved and pampered by his uncle. He took his first music lessons from uncle K. C. Dey.
Manna attended Indu Babur Pathshala, Scottish Church Collegiate School and Scottish Church College to do his schooling. He graduated from Vidyasagar College, Calcutta. After college he has two ways to choose between. Either take music or some other job for living. His father wanted him to become a Bachelor of Arts, to be a Barrister. But like other youngsters in Calcutta, he was under influence of his uncle and selected to go for music. In his initial days he was taught by uncle K. C. Dey. K.C. Dey introduced him to the nuances of thumri, qawwali, tappa, and bhajan. Later he took training from Ustad Aman Ali Khan and Ustad Abdul Rahman Khan.
Manna Dey moved to Mumbai along with uncle K. C. Dey, in 1942. Initially he worked as an assistant to K. C. Dey, then to S. D. Burman. After that he also worked as assistant to other music composer. Later he started working independently as a music director. While working as music director, he kept on learning the Hindustani classical music. He is one of the talented classical singers, while he can sing semi-classical filmy songs with ease.
In 1943, Manna Dey got his first break with the film 'Tamanna'. It was a duet song along with singer Suraiya, which was composed by K. C. Dey. The song became hit. He also gets attention with the song 'Upar Gagan Vishal' from film Mashal. Later his song from the Bengali and Marathi film Amar Bhupali proved him as a prominent singer. During early career he found problem with the Hindi language. But later he done a systematic study and get easy with the language.
Manna Dey is also known for his perfection. He is the only artiste who used to make notations before recording a song. Manna shared a great bond with music directors R. D. Burman and Shankar-Jaikishan. With R. D. Burman he gave the hit number 'Aao Twist Karein'.
Critics agreed that Manna can sing any of Rafi, Kishore, Talat Mahmood and Mukesh's song. He is one of the versatile singers. Once the legendary singer Mohammad Rafi said that people listen to his songs, but he listen only to Manna Dey's songs. That defines the singer's greatness. But unfortunately he was used to sing for character actors and older stars except occasionally for Raj Kapoor. While the times other lead singers Rafi, Kishore and Talat Mahmood were singing for stars like Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor. Many commented that his voice lacks youthfulness. But he has the ability to make any song a hit song with his melodious voice. Manna sang many songs for the comedian Mehmood including the hit 'Ek Chatoor Nar Karke Singar' from Padosan.