Manna Dey’s special connection with Kannada films and Bangalore

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GALORE, October 25:  Manna Dey, one of the great playback singers of Indian cinema, who died here on Thursday, had a special connection with Kannada cinema and Bangalore.

He sang five songs for Kannada films when the industry was still in a nascent stage. He recited Jayate Jayate Satyameva Jayate for Kalpavriksha. With Kuhu Kuhu in Kalavathi directed by T.V. Shankar Singh, he left an indelible impression on the minds of music lovers.

Kannillaveno Nijakanadeno, and Anu Anuvinallu, which the singer sang for Margadarshi, directed by M.R. Vittal, are still fresh in people’s memories. He also sang Neere Neere Baare Bega for the earlier version of Sangolli Rayanna, for which Lata Mangeshkar also lent her voice. Though Mr. Dey lived in Mumbai for more than 55 years, he had a special affection for Bangalore as this was where he married his wife, Sulochana. They lived with their younger daughter, Sumita Dey, in Kalyannagar.

Long walks

At a programme, he remembered the long walks he used to take with his wife in Cubbon Park and Lalbagh.

“I have been associated with Bangalore for 50 years. Sulochana’s family lived here. Our marriage was solemnised at a ceremony on Kenchappa Road. I used to frequent the Glass House at Lalbagh,” he said during a music concert.

However, he was not happy with the way the city had been expanding. Recalling her association with Manna da, singer Archana Udupa said: “I first accompanied him during a concert in 2003. The last concert was in 2010 when he was felicitated on his 90th birthday. I used to visit his place to practice. Playing his harmonium, he used sing for hours without a break. His voice was so unique and mesmerising,” Ms. Udupa said.

Lahari Velu, who heads Lahari Music Audio Company, said that Mr. Dey would sing his Kannada songs at programmes organised here and associated himself with many social and cultural programmes.

‘One of their own’

Active even as he got older, Mr. Dey was a regular feature at many cultural and social programmes organised by his friends in Bangalore. “The people of Karnataka did not consider him an outsider and embraced him as their own,” Mr. Velu added.

Describing Mr. Dey as a great soul, Kalyan, lyricist and music composer, said: “The songs he sang were soulful. He lent life to the lyrics though his inimitable voice. I went to meet him once. He was not in a position to speak, but I returned with the satisfaction of having met a legend.”

Journalist G.G. Nagaraj, who authored Madhura Gayaka Mannade, said Manna da was very strict when it came to music. “He never compromised on his values. He lost interest in life after the death of his wife in 2012. She was the one who encouraged him to sing a song for Chemmeen, which got him a National Award,” he observed. “He relished Bengali sweets as well as mangoes. He loved driving. He used to drive his car even as he cursed the traffic snarls in Bangalore,” he added.

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