This is a transcript of the RMIM Bay Area members with Mr. Manna De on
August 13th, 2005 at Neha Desai's residence. Mr. Manna De was
accompanied by his wife as well as Mr. Bakul and Mrs Shuroma, his
son-in-law and daughter, respectively. Mrs. Aloka Nanjappa, daughter of
Mr. Salil Choudhary was also present. This is part 1 of 2. Part 2 will
be posted in a day or two.
The discussion began with a brief discussion on an Anil Biswas
composition that Mr. Manna De could not recollect. The video tapes were
not 'on' at this point.
Here MD = Manna De.
====[BEGIN PART 1]=========
Vish: There is one question that I wanted to ask you. We mentioned Anil
Biswas, There is an Indo-Russian production and you have a one minute
song with the Russian Orchestra, playing with that.
MD: I did?
Vish: Yes. You said you remember most of your songs?
MD: I must've done something with it, no?
Vish: There are two balalaikas playing and we will play the song today.
It is a very short song. It is actually a Russian folk tune 'The
Volga Boatman" and the Hindi version is "Pyaari Volga". It is
[MD shakes his head.]
Vish: That's two okay? The thing about Pardesi was...Hindi movies are
tough to watch...but..
MD: Balraj Sahni was the hero, wasn't he?
Vish: He was sort of the bard, he was singing .... Padmini and the
MD: Balraj Sahni was the hero of the movie, wasn't he? I remember the
song, "Tujh mein Ram, mujh mein Ram, sab mein Ram.
Vish: There are three songs in the movie. There is also the lavani -
the Marathi folk song too. Then there is Dasvidaniya.
[..Vish rummages through his bag and pulls out some CDs..]
Vish: We're going to play some songs of yours.
MD: I have to listen to them?
Vish: Oh, we didn't tell you about that part!
Vish: This is everybody's favorite. We also have a song that Kishore
Kumar sang and you composed. Is this a song that I should remember?
Kishore in the studio..that would be hard to forget..
MD: When was this?
Vish: You also did Andolan. But I'm wondering which song I should
surprise you with.
MD: Do you all listen to these old songs.
Neha: Yes, we are all lovers of that kind of music.
Pradeep: Yes, a few archeological remnants.
Vish: You can tell us to stop and we will. Hariprasanna Das, one of the
first music directors you worked with...
MD: I was his assistant. I used to help him, but I don't remember
having sung for him.
Vish: We can just play the song.
MD: No, I would not like to make a spectacle of singing that way..the
way I used to sing in those days, y'know. I have grown out of those
[types of] singing.
Vish: Let us play it.
MD: How do you know that it was me singing?
Vish: [searches for the song in his list.]..I was playing it yesterday
and I can't seem to find it in the list...this is terrible..what did
Vish: There is also Gyan Dutt. One of my favorites soundtracks of all
time is Geeta Govinda. We will listen to that also. I'm just
Vish: We'll start with Gyan Dutt. It is in Nat-Bihag...Lata sung
later in Buzdil.
[plays Jhun Jhun Jhun Jhun Paayaliya Baje. MD listens intently. When
the song ends, he does a namaskar as if to say "Enough already"]
MD's daughter Shuroma: I had never heard this before.
MD: This is a number sung by Faiyyaz Khan sahib. And then Burman sahib
sung it in Bengali. I never knew why I was made to sing...in the 1940s.
Shuroma: And he [points to Vish] discovered the song!
MD: He should be given a medal for that.
Vish: Someone asked and we wanted to talk about Rajkumari. You have
many wonderful songs with Rajkumari.
MD: She was a wonderful singer, no doubt about that. Beautiful voice.
Vish: I don't know if you remember a movie called Veeranganaa.
MD: [nods]..It was there..[indicates his head, trying to recall]..I was
not the MD, maybe I was assisting. Who was the MD? Khemchand Prakash?
Vish: No, your best friend, Hariprassana Das.
[..transcript missing for 2-3 minutes, while I was changing the tape.
Talk about Pradeep the poet singing playback]
Naniwadekar: Around 1938-39, there was a song "Mein to Aarati
Utaaroon re, Radhe Shyam ki" sung by Pradeep and there is also a
female's voice. Who is she? Have you heard it?
[MD misunderstands it as the Usha Mangeshkar song of the 1970s.
Clarifications follow from all around.]
Nani: It was from Bandhan or Kangan. One of the two.
Vish: This was an older song. We live in the 1930s.
MD: 1930s? It must've been him [Pradeep]. As I told you he used to
sing his own songs and he used to write and make his tunes. Naturally,
when he was working with us, he accepted whatever we did.
Nani: How did Hariprasanna Das get credited for composing this song?
What did he do?
MD: We used to have long hours of sittings at Nandlal Jaswantlal's
house. He was the director of Kadambari. He used to live in Vile Parle
and he used to have long sittings with Pradeepji, Hariprasanna-da and
myself. That's how these songs were born. Pradeepji had his
compositions also. Hariprasanna-da was the music director. He had the
final say. I used to know Hindi well, therefore Hariprasanna-da used to
solely depend on me. That's how these songs were born. Pradeepji used
to give us guidance.
Vish: We should listen to the Rajkumari song now.
[plays laakh laakh taaroan ke maala - Rajkumari/Manna De. Rajkumari
sings the first line. Manna De's voice is heard on the next one.]
MD: [waves his hand furiously] Stop it!
Vish: [shakes his head] It *is* a beautiful song!
MD: How can you call it a beautiful song?
Vish: It is a lovely song
Vish: For this evening, we're going to a little back. [walks to the
CD player to stop the song..]
MD: Those were the days when we were breaking away from those old New
Theatres tunes. You know the New Theatres and Prabhat studio tunes.
That is how Mr. Hariprassana Das came from New Theatres to direct music
in Bombay. And he chose me to assist him. But then, those were the
days, we were really trying to break away from the traditional Pankaj
Mullick's and R. C. Boral's tunes. This song..[points to the
CD]..this was definitely not with their kind of thinking..R.C.
Boral's or Pankaj Mullick's...but then..I would definitely like to
forget these things.
Vish: And we are trying to remember them.
MD: Because...the pronunciation is so wrong. Utterly wrong. We had
grown in my lifetime. I have grown as a singer. If I have sung a song
30 years ago..if I sing it now..I will sing it differently. I believe
in those things. As I have grown out of those faults and realized what
troubled me ......and I had to do it because I was made to do it. But I
have learnt. Now there is something inside me, it is troubling me...how
could I have sung these songs?
Vish: You are too close to these things. If you allow, even for a
minute, your audience to judge that, they would have a diametrically
opposite view of this song.
MD: Vish - You're Vish, right? I just heard you said that you were in
the north. You know Hindi well.
Vish: Yes. It is okay. My Tamil is really bad.
MD: Your love for that era of music... I have absolutely no regard for
Vish: Thank you very much!
MD: [taps Vish on his shoulder] Why he likes the music of those
days...music was just..even the songs that were composed by R. C.
Boral...Toofan Mail....the songs that were sung by Saigal sahib, my
uncle and...Kannan Devi..those were beautiful songs. You listen to
those songs, they are definitely better than these songs..what we just
Vish: Sure. There will be different opinions on it. I don't even want
to go there. In my mind, I think it is unnecessary to go there.
MD: I have a feeling....you are pretty biased.
MD: No, No..[looks at Shuroma]..why he likes that kind of music,
Vish: Because he doesn't know any better!
MD: It's his own doing. He likes that song.
MD's daughter: A few people do.
Neha: All of us.
[a chorus of affirmations follow]
MD: [surprised] All of you?
Neha: That's why we're here!
MD: [to Neha, with raised eyebrows] You like that song?
Neha: Of course, Aapko nahin accha lagta?
MD: [forcefully] Bilkul Nahin!
Vish: Let's do this. Let's make a deal. You talked about songs
composed by R. C. Boral and Pankaj Mullick. What about songs composed
MD: As I told you. I was just growing.
Vish: It doesn't sound like you were growing..to us. We're going to
play this song.
MD's son-in-law Bakul: What you said was that there was a type of
singing going on and that you were experimenting. Maybe that is what
appeals to them.
Shuroma: Maybe it is fine.
MD: I have always looked forward. In the case of music, I have always
looked for people who are improving. At this age of 85, I still sing. I
still look forward to improving something in which I've failed in
years before. I still think of succeeding.
MD's daughter: But that's your personal goal and your personal
attraction. But your fans are appreciating different things.
[someone points to Vish to play the CD]
Vish: He's [MD] not allowing me to. I can try.
Deepak: I do like his singing from the 50's, 60's and 70's also.
Vish: That reminds me..Gautam Ghosh and Ain Rashid Khan made a movie
with Pran and Mithun Chakravarthy called Gudia. Do you remember Gudia?
MD: I sang one song in that for Pran.
Vish: With Kavita Krishnamurthy. Was it in the 80's? It was recent.
MD: In the 90's. [Per imdb it was in 1997]
Vish: Well, he said I was biased!
Vish: We did want a chance to listen to at least one of the
MD: Which picture?
Vish: We won't tell you. It is a quiz for you.
MD: You're a friend of Chandrashekhar sahib, right?
Vish: He is coming here in September
MD: Chandrashekhar is a moving encyclopedia of songs, as far as
yesteryears are concerned.
Vish: This is a song of Lataji which has rapidly become our favorite.
But I'm afraid of your reaction. All bets are off.
[..magnificent voice of Lata singing 'Jab tak jaage chaand gagan'
fills the room and there is a meditative silence in the room as people
stop on their tracks. After the mukhda, MD says, "Enough of it"]
Vish: You don't like the song?
MD: Um..no, I like the song. I like the notes and of course, Lata is
singing. These are the notes that I composed. It is definitely my
Vish: What is the movie?
MD's daughter: Farishtey.
MD: This is an old type of song. If I were to tune this song, I would
tune it differently.
Neha: But that is true for everyone.
Vish: You are standing too close to this thing.
Neha: What song of yours would you not change now?
MD: Her [Aloka Nanjappa] father's [Salil Choudhary] song "Zindagi
kaisi hai paheli". It's one of the most popular songs. I wouldn't
sing it differently.
Neha: But your compositions?
MD: But you have not heard my Bengali songs. He [Pradeep] is a Bengali.
He must've heard. As far as Bengali songs are concerned, about 90% of
the songs that I have sung have been composed by me.
Pradeep: Are you happy with your Bengali compositions?
MD: That's what Roshan sahib used to say. "Aapki..agar...Bengali
songs mein Hindi shabdha biTaa diyaa jaaye..to...that will be
wonderful". Something new. Roshan used to say that. I have great faith
in my Bengali songs. I have known some of the great masters..like
Burman sahib, my uncle K. C. Dey, Pankaj Mullick, her [Aloka]'s
father Salil babu. According to me, they were institutions, in the
field of music. But I have tried to break away from that kind of
singing, when I tuned those songs. And when it was accepted, I was the
happiest person alive.
Arun: Do you have a negative view of these songs after watching the
picturisation or does picturisation never occur to you....
MD: I hardly ever go to see a movie when I've sung.
Neha: Aapko shaukh nahin hain movie dekhne ka?
Vish: Aap aapne gaanoan se itna darte kyon hain?
MD: Hindi pictures..ginay chunay dekhte hain. Bangla picture to dekhte
hi nahin. I love to watch films. Yesterday, we were watching
Mughal-e-Azam. It was fantastic. These old masters Bimal Roy, B. R.
Chopra...even Yash Chopra's movies..I love to watch. They are not the
kind of things being made today. Recently, we watched Black.
Vish: Did you like it?
MD: Amitabh is a great actor, no doubt. But I think he overdid it.
Vish: I told you [to Aloka] It was made with a very western feel..there
was no Indian music in it..with a little bit of Shankar Mahadevan
singing......piano..symphonic..it wasn't Indian music.
Pradeep: The comment you made - that most people keep improving and
they do not like their old stuff. Is that true for other singers also?
For example, would Lata feel the same way..that "my black and white
stuff is not as good?"
MD: I have great regard for Lata's singing. As an artiste, I think
she is an institution by herself. She should be made to listen to her
own songs. She would definitely feel in parts, "I could sing
better". I have felt that way. I felt, "Why did Lata have to sing
Vish: We've felt that way too!
Pradeep: You feel that more, nowadays.
Vish: Well, she has actually sung songs composed by you. And they are
one after another, beautiful songs. You are resisting the idea.
MD: How could you say that she has sung good songs one after another?
How many songs has she sung for me?
Vish: We could play them for you, but you will ask us to stop and I'm
scared of that idea.
MD: She has not sung more than 10 songs.
Pradeep: We could listen to them,
MD: No, I will tell you..not more than 10 songs.
Vish: Probably 15.
MD: She has sung in..[looks at his wife]..what's that Prabhat
MD's daughter: Chamki
Vish: Chamki has a beautiful song...[inaudible]
MD: Chamki..Lata didn't sing in that, I think.
Vish: Naina has Lata's "jab kehta hoon main hoon andhi". That's
your composition. We could remind you.
Vish: We could play that.
Balaji: You should say, "Thanks in advance for letting me play that".
Vish: There is a song from Nagchampa sung by Asha.
MD: Written by me.
Vish: Of course, it is. Thanks for acknowledging it. I'm curious to
see if you remember it.
MD: Nagchampa, Shivkanya...those are the pictures I did. In those days,
I was really thinking of taking a bold step of becoming a music
director instead of singing.
Neha: Then why didn't you?
MD: No...I discovered that I was no good at it.
MD's daughter: I disagree. I think you have great compositions.
Vish: There is another one coming up whether he likes it or not. Is
Pradeep: I think that's what bothers him..the fact that he didn't..
MD: [interrupts] The fact is that if something doesn't work to your
liking and to people's liking, you have to sit up and stay away from
it. When I started tuning songs, the producers..they told me...tune
this way, tune that way...that means that there was something lacking
somewhere...and they wanted me to follow their liking. I wanted to stay
away from it.
Pradeep: That means it was not the technical aspects of the
compositions, but the non-technical aspects..these other things, right?
MD: How could you ignore them? In our commercial line, you have to be
very practical about these things.
Pradeep: But this interference...
MD: They have every right to. Where is the moolah coming from? It is
coming from them. If they say it is not good, you have go by that. I
remember once I was with C. Ramchandra. Tarachand Barjatya..he came..it
was on the verge of being recorded and he said, "I don't like this
song." C. Ramchandra was a very hot-headed man. He said, "Sethji
kya acchha nahin lagta hai?" and Tarachandji said, "Ye to mein keh
nahin sakta..par acchha nahin lagaa." So C. Ramchandra said, "Phir
iski music aap hi dijiye" and walked out. So if the captain of the
ship says no, then you have to hand over the keys to him and say,
"Allright, you handle it."
Aloka: I remember my father feeling very stifled by demands that
MD: I remember another film that Bimal Roy was making, Yehudi.
Shankar-Jaikishen were giving the music. And then, I was singing a
song, I don't remember..whether it was for that movie or some
other..but Shankar was there. Bimal Roy came and Shankar sang it for
him. Bimal Roy said, "Shankarji, situation mein baiTha nahin ye
gaana." He was tuning for Mr. Vacha, a Parsi gentlemen who was a
sound recordist and the producer of Yehudi. After Bimal Roy left,
Shankar told Mr. Vacha, "Aapko mujh se agar music lena hai, to
director-birector ko saath mein mat leke aayiye." Those days,
Shankar-Jaikishen were very big. They could say these things. Since
most directors do not know much about music.
Vish: What about Raj Kapoor.?
MD: Raj Kapoor was different. He was a class apart.
****to be continued in Part 2***********
How can he not??
I really became enchanted by going through the discussions you had on
last Saturday with Sri Manna Dey and ofcourse I learnt a lot. I am also
eagerly waiting to get the 2nd part of the discussions.
In this context may I inform you that at Kolkata we have formed a
society in the name of Padmabhusan Manna Dey "Manna Dey Sangeet
Academy" and as the first step of that we have developed and launched a
website having the url: www.mannadey.net - which will be enriched and
improved day by day with varieties of information and photographs. We
are also in the process of developing an archive of Padmabhusan Manna
Dey where his all works, interviews and videographs are to be kept. We
have already collected an appreciable amount of documents and songs but
still a lot of old songs are due to collect. I would request you all to
help us in this regard.
Thank you all,
With regards and best wishes
Dr. Gautam Roy
Manna Dey Sangeet Academy
> In this context may I inform you that at Kolkata we have formed a
> society in the name of Padmabhusan Manna Dey "Manna Dey Sangeet
> Academy" and as the first step of that we have developed and launched a
> website having the url: www.mannadey.net - which will be enriched and
> improved day by day with varieties of information and photographs. We
> are also in the process of developing an archive of Padmabhusan Manna
> Dey where his all works, interviews and videographs are to be kept. We
> have already collected an appreciable amount of documents and songs but
> still a lot of old songs are due to collect. I would request you all to
> help us in this regard.
This is most excellent. It will be great to hear/read up content that
is related to Manna De-ji. Thanks for doing this work.
I wish we could have helped you with the videotape of the meet or
allowed you to use the transcript on your website. Unfortunately, we
cannot do so, since the meet was recorded with the express condition
that it would be for private viewing only. The transcript is something
that is being shared only on RMIM, since the assumption is that we're
all friends and that we will not use the content. Clearly, some of the
comments made by eminent personalities are "off the record" or views
that they may be comfortable in expressing at a private meeting, but
not in a public forum like a magazine or a website.
Arun thanks ever so much for posting this priceless transcript. I
eagerly await the second installment.
Gosh how I envy you west coast guys :).
I couldn't stop laughing at Manna Dey's incredulousness at the 30s 40s
obsession of RMIMers.
Please please do get the pictures up soon.
He is just trying to outAsha Asha. Isn't everybody?
> Please please do get the pictures up soon.
Surjit Singh, a diehard movie fan(atic), period.
hmmm...naivete or disingenuousness? Do you seriously expect anyting
posted on a public, unmoderated newsgroup to stay in the private
As far as Manna De's conversation is concerned, I will not post parts
that I think were off-the-record. Part 1 did not have anything that is
not publicly available. That said, cut and pasting the transcripts on a
website would be unethical. Especially, if sentences are taken out of
Gudia featured not one but two songs of Manna da..
Apart from the duet "Hum tum hue zuda" (with Kavita Krishnamurthy),
Manna da also sings "Baalam aan baso more man me" (though smaller in
BTW how many times Manna da gave vocals for Pran saab.. The two
instances (apart from Gudia) provided superhit songs 1. Kasmein waade
pyar wafaa and 2. Yaari hai imaan mera.. any more Manna da-Pran songs
that you can recall?
I think Manna De-Ji rendered many good and memorable songs
for Shankar-Jaikishan . Did he speak something about
these duo ? How does he rate them , excellent , very good - - - ?
There is a bit in Part 2 of the transcript that I had posted over the
weekend. Also see the older interview by RMIM folks
Eagerly waiting to get the photographs....
"Ideal husband" would have sufficed...
How I wish I could have been there! I knew something was in the air,
but this was totally unexpected. I doubt it if I could/would have made
it to this meet, even if I knew about it. So let me just end by saying
that reading about it was the next best alternative to being there.
Happy Listenings, and Meetings.
Please donot get disheartened Kalra-Ji . There is plenty of
better time ahead of you . For the time being be happy with reading
the post and feel still better after watching the photo's to come and I
am sure next time you will be fit and firm to attend one .
As I told you before my prayers are always with you .
Warm regards ,