Bangalore: India’s legendary playback singer Manna Dey passed away early Thursday after prolonged illness at a private hospital here. He was given a tearful adieu by his fans, family and friends.
The legend died around 4am in Narayana Hospital, K.S. Vasuki, the hospital’s spokesperson, said. He was 94.
Braving a downpour, hundreds of people, including youths thronged Ravindra Kalakshetra (theatre) in the city centre to pay tributes to Mannada after his frail body was brought from the hospital in the southern outer suburb.
Later, Dey was given a tearful farewell as his mortal remains were consigned to the flames by his younger son-in-law Gyanranjan Dev as per Hindu rites at a crematorium in the northwest suburb of the city.
About 500 people, including relatives, friends and fans were present at the cremation.
“A few members of the Bangalore Bengali Association sang a song penned by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore at the funeral,” Dey’s friend Runa Roy said.
Karnataka governor H.R. Bhardwaj and chief minister Siddaramaiah conveyed their condolences to his bereaved family.
The nonagenarian multi-lingual singer is survived by two daughters – Rama and Shumita, sons in-laws and grandchildren.
His wife Sulochana Kumaran passed away here in January 2012 due to cancer.
“Dey’s daughter (Shumita) rushed to the hospital and was at his bedside when the end came after we alerted her about father’s deteriorating condition,” hospital spokesperson Vasuki said.
Dey’s other daughter (Rama), who lives in the US, has also been informed about his death.
The Bengali community joined the family and relatives to mourn the death of the melodious singer who belonged to the golden era of Bollywood music with Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar and Mukesh as part of the quartet.
Kannada films leading producer-director Rajendra Babu praised Dey and said that “Mannada was one of the greatest singers in the Indian sub-continent in the 20th century with a unique and original voice”.
“Though he is known more for his hits in Hindi movies, he showed his versatility by rendering songs in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati and Marathi,” Rajendra Babu told IANS.
Dey was in the same hospital for about 20 days in May, a week after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hononured him May 1 with Bengal’s Vishesh Maha Sangeet Samman award in recognition of his service to the world of music and the film industry for over seven decades.
In a career spanning seven decades since 1943, Mannada, whose original name was Prabodh Chandra Dey, sang over 3,500 songs. His oeuvre boasts of a range of songs – from romantic numbers to classical to fun songs.
He proved his versatility through songs like “Aaja sanam madhur chandani mein hum”, “Chunari sambhal gori udi chali jaye re”, “Zindagi kaisi hai paheli”, “Chalat musafir moh liyo re”, “Tere bina aag yeh chandni”, “Mudh mudh ke na dekh”, “Ae bhai zara dekh ke chalo” and “Yashomati maiya se bole Nandlala”.
Dey was honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the country’s highest award for the film world, in 2007.
He was also a recipient of several other awards, including Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan.