Unforgettable Manna Dey may be no more but his voice and songs will remain forever…

Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli Haaye, Kabhi Toh Hansaaye, Kabhi Ye Rulaaye................

The 50s, 60s and the 70s are arguably the Golden Era of Indian film music, especially Hindi film music. And along with Mohd. Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh, Hemanth Kumar, Talat Mahmood and Mahendra Kapoor, Manna Dey lit up our world.

Manna Da’s singing was unique. It reflected the man himself — simple, humble and straight-from-the-heart. He began singing in1940. His solos are unforgettable.

‘Aye Mere Pyaare Watan’, ‘Aye Meri Zohra Jabeen’, ‘Tujhe Suraj Kahoon Ya Chanda’, all with the handsome Balraj Sahni at the helm; ‘Dil Ka Haal Sune Dilwala’, ‘Laaga Chunri Mein Daag’, ‘Ae Bhai Zara Dekh Ke Chalo’ picturised on the super showman Raj Kapoor and ‘Gori Tori Pai Janiya’… the list is endless.

But to me, Manna Da’s genius also shines through in some of the remarkable duets that he sang with the singing queens of the Golden Era, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle and Geeta Dutt.

One can never tire of listening to ‘Ye Raat Bheegi Bheegi’ and ‘Aaja Sanam’ from Chori Chori. Or the cult song ‘Pyar Hua Iqraar Hua Hai’ from Shree 420 — all of them with one of the greatest on-screen pairs of Nargis and Raj Kapoor. What about that fantastic duet ‘Dil Ki Girah Khol Do’ from Raat Aur Din picturised on Nargis and Feroz Khan? Then there is the Madan Mohan composition ‘Wo Chand Muskaaya Sitare Sharmaaye’ from Aakhri Dao. And the unforgettable classic ‘Tum Gagan Ki Chandrama Ho’ from Sati Savitri. ‘Na Jaane Kahan Tum The’ from Zindagi Aur Khwab, ‘Soch Ke Ye Gagan Jhoome’ from Jyothi, ‘Masthi Bhara Hain Sama’ from Parvarish — these were lesser known songs but magnificent nevertheless.

One can go on with the songs Manna Dey has immortalised with his voice (almost 4000). But I leave them to you to search them out and savour. Manna Da may not be with us any more. But his songs will live forever.