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Remembering Manna Dey: The classical titan who deserved better

Manna Dey was too good for his own good. On his seventh death anniversary, here is a tribute to the immense talent and humility of the singing giant.

Mohammed Rafi, THE singer, had this say about Manna Dey: “You listen to my songs, I listen only to Manna Dey's songs.” Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar is a Dey fan. It is, therefore, a mystery why this singing giant remained throughout his career as an ‘also-ran’.

That he was a classical titan is acknowledged. That he was an indomitable performer is a given. That he enriched the Hindi film music’s musical vocabulary is accepted. His vocal artistry and virtuosity are recognised. Why, therefore, did he not sit in the first row? Why was he always consigned to the second place? Why did Talat Mehmood, Rafi, Kishore Kumar and Mukesh always remain ahead of him?

He was unsurpassed in classical compositions. Except for Rafi and Talat (to some extent), the other two did not count. Consider some of his songs in the classical genre: from (1963), from (1957), from (1972), from (1968), from (1971), from (1964), and from (1956), from (1963), from (1971), and so many others. In the Qawwali of all Qawwalis — from (1960) — only this genius, with his inimitable and , and total command of the Sufiana journey from the worldly to the spiritual, could have pulled off this Roshan/ Sahir masterpiece – Rafi took charge of the second half

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