Fan pays unique tribute to Manna Dey

While young fans of legendary singer Manna Dey took to social networking sites to commemorate his first death anniversary Friday, a Kolkata-based gramophone record collector paid tribute to the artist by tuning into a priceless prayer song sung by Dey and written by Mahatma Gandhi.

Manna Dey
Manna Dey

Manna Dey died in Bangalore Oct 24 last year following prolonged illness. He was 94.

Collector Susanta Kumar Chatterjee witnessed Dey perform live at his college function in the 1970s. He later met the great singer at his residence.

But little did he know that down the decades he would be an audience to a truly rare piece of music and history.

"The CD of the record 'He Namrata Ke Samrat' (Lord of Humility) was given to me by music collector Suresh Chandvankar, secretary of the Society of Indian Record Collectors.

"Gandhiji is credited as the lyricist (in the 1930s) and it was set to tune by music composer Vasant Desai in 1969 for a special record as part of the Maharashtra government's celebrations to mark Gandhi's birth centenary," Chatterjee told IANS.

It credits Manna Dey and Chorus' as the artist, said Chatterjee. It was not released publicly on a large scale by The Gramophone Company of India Ltd.

"Today (Friday), I am listening to that record and this is my way of paying tribute to Dey," Chatterjee said.

While Chatterjee travelled back in time through the record, regulars at Kolkata's famed intellectual hub, the Coffee House on College Street, were overcome with nostalgia at the sight of the freshly-garlanded portrait of the singer.

Thirty years back, Dey recorded the iconic "Coffee Houser sei addata aaj ar nei" (The chat sessions at the Coffee House have faded away) capturing the 'golden late afternoons' spent by seven friends at the joint and the successes, frustrations, tragedies and disappointments that they experienced in their later lives.

Thousands of others shared songs and videos on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to express their love for the artist.

From creating playlists of his hits (including some of his Marathi songs) to participating in opinion polls, music buffs relived Dey's hypnotic voice.

Meena Meenaxi tweeted. "My fvrt singer Manna Dey ji Death Anniversary (sic)."

The versatile genius is said to have sung over 3,500 songs in various languages including Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Assamese and Bhojpuri.

From the 1950s to the 1970s, Dey was one of the most sought after singers.

His songs like "Laaga chunri mein daag, "Ae mere pyare watan", "Zindagi kaisi hai paheli" and the iconic Bengali classic "Coffee Houser shei addata aaj aar nei" have survived the onslaught of modern genres.

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