Life Of Manna Dey

Manna dey was born to Purna Chandra (father) and Mahamaya Dey (mother)on 1 May, 1919. Besides his parents, his youngest paternal uncle Sangeetacharya (meaning "Venerable Teacher of Music" in Sanskrit) K. C. Dey highly inspired and influenced him. Manna received his early education in a small pre-primary school named Indu Babur Pathshala. Thereafter he attended Scottish Church Collegiate School and Scottish Church College, followed by Vidyasagar College where he received his graduate education. From his childhood, Manna showed a keen liking for wrestling and boxing, and excelled in both sports. He has a jovial personality and likes to play pranks on people once in a while.

During Manna Dey’s years at Scottish Church College, his vocal talent became apparent when he would sing aloud to entertain his classmates. He started taking singing lessons from his uncle, Krishna Chandra Dey, and Ustad Dabir Khan. During this period, Manna Dey stood first for three consecutive years in three different categories of inter-collegiate singing competitions.

In 1942, Manna Dey accompanied Krishna Chandra Dey on a visit to Mumbai. There he started working as an assistant, first under Krishna Chandra Dey, and then under Sachin Dev Burman. Later he assisted other music composers and then started to work independently. While working independently as a music director for various Hindi movies, Manna Dey continued to take musical lessons in Hindustani classical music from Ustad Aman Ali Khan and Ustad Abdul Rahman Khan.

Manna Dey started his career in playback singing with the movie, Tamanna, in 1943. The musical score was set by Krishna Chandra Dey, and Manna sang a duet with Suraiya. The song was an instant hit. He sang a solo, Upar Gagan Vishal, in 1950 in the movie, Mashal, its melody being created by Sachin Dev Burman. In 1952, Manna Dey sang for a Bengali and a Marathi movie with the same name and storyline, Amar Bhupali. This established him as a leading playback singer.

Manna Dey recorded a popular duet, Ketaki Gulab Juhi, with classicist Bhimsen Joshi. With Kishore Kumar, he sang duets of different genres such as, Yeh Dosti Hum Nehi Torenge (Sholay) and Ek Chatur Naar (Padosan). Manna Dey sang with renowned singer/composer, Hemant Kumar (Hemanta Mukherjee), in Bengali movies, and also for some other Bengali composers. He sang a popular duet, "Ke Prothom Kachhe Esechi", with Lata Mangeshkar in the movie, "Sankhyabela". Manna can be justifiably said to have pioneered a new genre in Indian music wherein Indian classical music is blended with pop music. Manna's versatility extends to the more demanding genre of Rabindra Sangeet as well.

His experimentation with western music has produced some unforgettable melodies. He has recorded more than 3500 songs.

On December 18, 1953, Manna Dey married Sulochana Kumaran from Kerala. They have two daughters: Shuroma, born on October 19, 1956, and Sumita, born on June 20, 1958.

Manna Dey currently lives in Bangalore in the township of Kalyannagar after spending more than fifty years in Bombay. He also maintains a Calcutta address. He still travels widely in the world to present musical programs.

His Autobiography in Bengali "Jiboner Jalsaghorey" has been published by M/s, Ananda Publishers in the year 2005. English version of that, "Memories Come Alive" published by M/S Penguin Books, Hindi version "Yaden Jee Uthi" came out from M/s Penguin Books and the Marathi version "Jiboner Jalsaghorey" came out from Sahitya Prasar Kendra, Pune successively.

"Jibaner Jalsaghore" the docu-feature film (with English subtitle) on legendary Manna Dey's life and works has been released on 30 April, 2008 at Nandan, Kolkata. It is produced by 'Manna Dey Sangeet Academy', Directed by Dr. Satarupa Sanyal and Marketed by Sa Re Ga Ma (HMV).

Manna Dey Sangeet Academy ( is developing a complete archive on Padmabhusan Manna Dey.