An evening with Manna De 8/13/2005 - Part 2/2

Skip to first unread message

Aug 21, 2005, 2:52:53 PM8/21/05

Please do not copy this transcript for a magazine, website or
any other forum.

===BEGIN PART 2=============

MD: Raj Kapoor was not an ordinary man. He was a great man, as far as
picture-making is concerned. In every department of picture making, he
was unparalleled. Unparalleled. I would say that there hasn't been a
better showman, better character than Raj-sahib. Even musically, he was

Vish: Would you say the same thing about his music with
Laxmikant-Pyarelal and others in the 70s?

MD: The way he used to tune [compose] songs - dus tunein banaaye
hain, phir woh kehte the, "haan bhai, ye song lo". He was involved
every step of the way. Because I have sung so many songs for him and on
so many occasions, with so many other music directors, I have seen how
Raj-sahib used to take work from them. He was great, no doubt about it.
He was the only person who used to take that kind of musical interest.

Pradeep: So taking interest is different from interfering, not knowing.

MD: Most of the directors do not know...Most of them say.."Accha ik
picture mein kitne gaane hain? Chhe chhe gaane..kya kya
rakhna hai? sober rakh do, do heroine pe gaane rakhdo, ek
qawwali rakh do, aur ek bhajan rakh do".


MD: Aisa hi hota tha. I have been a very old hand in this. Sixty long
years, I have been in Bombay working for these music directors and have
sung for them. I know how a song is ask me. I will tell you.
You will be surprised to know this. When I used to assist Mr. Khemchand
Prakash..he used to record 20 musicians, male and female singers chorus
voices.....on *one* microphone. After having rehearsed the songs for 10
days. And nowadays....

Woh producer aayega aur bolega..."gaana ban gaya?"
kahenge..."Nahin, abhi gaana bana nahin.."..."Kyon nahin bana.
Artist kya karenge?"

"Kya karenge........accha..woh picture ka tha falana gaana..bilkul
waisa hi gaana chahiye." These are the ways things are
done..."bilkul waisa hi gaana".


MD: Aur producer dhoondhne lagenge...woh gaana....phir idhar-udhar


MD: "Wah..yeh tune bahut khubsoorat hai...feel and all."

[loud laughs]

MD: Phir producer bolega..yeh gaana bahut accha hai....
Tantadatantantantandunduntan .....ek, do, teen, char, paanch, chhe,
saath, aaT, nau...ho gaya...Theek hai...parso recording kar dena...bata
dena..Ashaji ko...inko..

Lekin lines [lyrics]? Pata nahin...woh Tantadatantan leke chala gaya..

[loud laughs]

{Arun: In the transcript that follows, I have withheld the names of the
music directors - depicted as X and Y and the lyricist - depicted
as Z.}

MD: Now based on this Tantadatantan.....the music director has composed
these things..the format..and they actually started rehearsing...I have
experienced these things...Mr. X will say.."Manna da...kya kar rahen
hain shaam ko?"

Juhu scheme mein rehte the na hum..woh bhi vaheen rahte the.."Chaliye
na...aaiye, aaiye..ek peg whiskey peeyenge".

Theek hai. [mein] Chala gaya..[pauses]


[loud laughs]

MD: "Nahin na...mein ye Tantadatantan harmonium main bajaata
hoon"..phir whiskey piya..thode chanay chabayein...yeh sab karne ke
baad maine bola.."X line kab aayega? Mujhe rehearse karna hai."

"Woh aa jayega."


MD: And you wouldn't believe...[looks to Shuroma]..what's that
studio in Bandra?.....

Shuroma: Mehboob Studio.

MD: Mehboob studio...udhar jaakar hum log sabere se baiThe hain..phir X
aa gaye and Y bhi aa gaye..then they explained..."yeh
introduction..yeh first antare ke baad.."...

Antara kidhar?


MD: Phir..Antare ke baad kya music hoga...woh sab kuch ho gaya...Phir Z
aaye..Theek hai aap bhi aa jaiye.

"Arre Manna-da..kya Khabar hai? Aaj to gaane ki recording hone tak
sona-bona bandh kar dijiye."

"Z-ji..hum log kab se yahaan baiThe hain...words laiye... words

"Haan likh lo."

"Phir who X ke saath baiTha idhar udhar dekha, gaana likha, words
diya...I was at the studio from morning 8 o'clock and came back home
at evening 10 o'clock.

Someone: What time did Z come?

MD: That's the way we did the songs.

Pradeep: I can imagine X doing that, but what about the others?

MD: Everyone did that. Everyone.

Vish: So why do you say that we should move in this direction? This
doesn't sound like the right way.

MD: That's true. This is not the right way. That is why songs don't
last these days. There is no substance in the compositions in the
words, the tunes and all that. Nothing much to rave about, to write
home about. That is why I quit singing for films... 10 years ago. You
go to the studios, you meet the same faces, same
musicians....Hariprasad Chaurasia, the flutist..paan khaake Hari
idhar-udhar ghum raha hai.

Hari kya hua bhai, aaj tum bajaoge nahin?...

"Haan dada dekhte hai...yeh X-Y kya bolte hain...kuch hai to
bajayenge..nahin to chale jayenge."

The understanding between Hariprasad Chaurasia and Shivkumar Sharma
and Y is this...Y used to tune the songs...the understanding was
this..if you are in will come here, to the studios. Kaamaal
ki baath hai.ek gaane mein..3 antare honge, a 5 minute song...hardly
Hari or Shivkumar used to play for 30-40 bars. That's all. That's

These things used to be taboo with S. D. Burman..I remember the song
"Poocho na Kaise meine rain bitaayi.."Burman sahib composed and Ram
Narayan used to come and play the sarangi. Everyone was waiting and Ram
Narayan was missing.

"Ram Narayan kyon nahin aaya?"..S. D. Burman looked at Jaidev...he
was Burman-da's assistant..

"Maloom nahin dada. Telephone bhi nahi aaya unka."

"Dakshina ko bulao." Dakshina Tagore, he used to play the

If you remember the song, the song starts, with..not the sarangi, but
with the taar senai. Because, the great music directors used to think
in a particular way. I remember the song for Raj-sahib, "Ai bhai zara
dekhke chalo" ..Raj-sahib said, "Jaikishan sahib, mazaa nahin aaya.

"Raj-sahib..agar violins hotay to mazaa aa jaata."

" Violin kya..aap mangvaiye!"

Raj-sahib asked Dattaram.."Le aao..8-10 violins."

Phir..violins mangvake..rehearse karake..2-3 gante zaaya karke..baad
mein recording kiya.

That's why I say that the [current] thinking in music is so
advanced..[looks at Vish] jo gaane sunaa rahen sounds

UVR: In your view, which decade of music has so far been the best?

MD: If you listen to today's music, the musical compositions. You
will say that it is on par with any music produced anywhere in the
world. It is so good. But the songs, I don't know. Hardly you come
across any songs, which have been composed in a fashion that can keep
pace with the thinking that music composers...that kind of thinking is
not there.

UVR: you mean the poetry is not written for the tunes..

Pradeep: You mean technically the songs are richer, but the poetry is
not good.

MD: Technically, it is very rich. Poetry...[shakes his head]....even
the singers nowadays are very good.

Vish: You also feel that the compositions have improved? What about the

MD: Melody is missing these days.

Pradeep: How do you feel about Salilda's compositions now?

MD: His kind of music has died with him. He was one of a kind. Nobody
could touch him. Not only that. He used to do his own music. Nowadays,
the music directors..they only do Tantadatantan..the music is done by
somebody else. Salil babu used to compose from A to Z. The way the
songs were recorded..everything...everything. He used to have an
assistant called Sebastian. Sebastian used to write. He used to take
down the notes. But Salil babu used to compose.

UVR: How about other music directors. What was the contribution of the

MD: You mean arrangers? They hardly know the situation of the song and
they start composing.


MD: That's how it was. We have seen in movies today..most of the
songs are duets. The boy is singing and the girl is singing. How is it
recorded? The male singer has come..the female singer is to come..but
finally she doesn't come. The male singer singer..1..2...3...4..He
sings his lines and after that the girl has to sing...the male singer
keeps quiet. The arranger comes and he does this...[makes conducting
motions] and then the male singer starts again. This is the way the
song is composed. Unke paas time nahin hain. Alka ke paas time nahin
hain. Raat ko aake gaayegi. Udit Narayan gaake chala gaya.

Aloka: [Earlier] the writers, the musicians, used to get together and
the atmosphere was totally different.

MD: The atmosphere is gone.

UVR: Agar who saath saath gaate

MD: [interrupts] Jab milte hi nahin to gaayenge kaisa? Woh log milte hi


Neha: Have you recorded a song when you were not with a co-singer?

MD: Hardly. Sometimes..aisa ho gaya ki Lata aa nahin saki. Manna-da aap
gaa dijiye. That song.."Dil ki girah khol do". I think Lata sang
first. I was at Calcutta for recording some other songs. Shankarji
decided that Lata had to sing and she recorded. I came later and dub
kar liya.

Vish: So it was a Shankar song and not a Jaikishen song.

MD: I have sung mostly for Shankar.

Vish: Chori Chori..Aaja Sanam.

MD: Jaikishen.

Vish: Ye Raat Bheegi Bheegi.

MD: Shankar.

Vish: [to others] Yes, it was also a Shailendra song. The
Shailendra-Shankar combination works nicely. Hasrat and Jaikishen.

MD: Hasrat and Jaikishen used to compose better together.

Shuroma: What about Jaidev, daddy?

MD: He was a class composer. I remember his compositions. The first
song I sang for him was "Chale jaa rahen hain kinare kinare".

Vish: Wonderful song. And then you sang a song, "Zaalim meri sharaab
mein kya daal diya."...points to MD's whiskey glass.."Aap apna
glass bhi dekh lijiye".

[loud laughs]

Pradeep: Vish, do you want to continue to play?

Vish: I do want to play an Asha Bhonsle song. I will brave it. This one
is from Nagchampa.

[plays " Pehli Milan ki raat mein". Manna De-ji gets deeply
involved in listening and at an interlude acts like he is conducting
the orchestra.]

MD: This is a good song.

Vish: Thank you!


Shuroma: Who did the arrangement?

MD: I did. The whole thing. I used to arrange my own music. Those were
the days when we had assistants. There were no arrangers.

Neha: Didn't the assistant arrange the music?

MD: Nahin. Assistants sirf haath hilate the.

[loud laughs]

MD: Salilda used to have an assistant called Kanu Ghosh. I used to call
him "Assailant", not assistant.

[loud laughs]

Aloka: In the Hrishikesh Mukherjee film Abhimaan, I think the music
director [character] was a clean copy of Kanu Ghosh. The person was
made to copy him.


MD: Kanu learnt quite a few things from Salil. Salil had a particular
way of composing. Especially [speaks in Bengali] the patriotic songs.
He had learnt a few things from Salil babu. He then composed some songs
on those lines. Those were good.

Neha: Since you were a composer yourself, did you ever suggest changes
to the music director?

MD: Oh, yes. I was fortunate enough to be...the music directors used to
depend on me. There were great singers; Mohd Rafi, Mukesh, Talat
Mahmood, G. M. Durrani..very good. I remember Rajkumari - singing a
song with her. I was making some mistake. Rajkumari was very big in
those days. Lata hadn't come up yet. Rajkumari said, "Bengali babu,
idhar kya kar rahe ho? Calcutta jao, rasgolle khao."

I used to be mad at her. Mera bhi din aayega, mein dikhata hoon tumko.


MD: I remember one song, by Jamal Sen. [looks at Vish] Do you remember
the song, "Devta tum ho mera"?

Vish: That is [film name inaudible], but which one were you referring
to? There was a Tamil film with Shivaji Ganesan and Padmini called
'Kattaboman" It was done by G. Ramanathan in Tamil. It was dubbed
or remade as Amar Shaheed' in Hindi. And Jamal Sen rearranged the
songs, but your song with Lata 'Jhoom re mori beliya" you
like that song?

MD: Oh, yes!

Vish: [quickly] Thank you!

[loud laughs]

MD: [taps Vish on his shoulder]. It is a good song, it is a good song.

MD: I finished Jamal Sen's recording. I was going home. I saw
Rajkumari standing at a bus stop...I remember that day..[sighs and
whispers]...I saw her..I stopped the car and was thinking, "Would it
be proper to give her a lift? How will she take it?" [shakes his
head] I didn't venture..I just drove away. Once upon a time, she was
the topmost female singer in the industry and she was standing in a bus

Vish: In terms of singing, the differences in approach between Lata
Mangeshkar and Asha.

MD: Even Asha has to admit that she couldn't be Lata. Lata was
definitely capable to sing the cream of songs. Not voice as such. I
wouldn't say Lata had an enviable voice. Voice quality-wise, Asha had
a better voice. The roundness in her voice. Lata's voice was a little
shrill. But technically, she was....[shakes his head in awe.]

Shuroma: But you have sung very important songs with Asha.

MD: I have sung more important songs with Lata

Vish: This is a difficult question, given that you have only a few
thousand songs to remember. Which music director's duets with Lata do
you remember. You have sung memorable songs for Shankar-Jaikishen, but
for no particular reason, I remember the South Indian music director G.
Naidu. I remember the song, 'Taar Taar baj raha"

MD: I wouldn't call him a good composer.

Vish: But his songs are good.

[MD laughs]

Vish: So what duet would come to your mind when it comes to duets with

MD: Have you heard of the song by Anil-da in Hamdard.."Ritu Aaye Ritu
Jaaye". There hasn't been a better classical song in films. It was
in four ragas - Sarang, Malhar, Pathjad and Basant Bahar. Four ragas
were magic. Ram Narayan played the sarangi, Pannalal Ghosh played the
flute. Those were the days we rehearsed for 10 days. That;s why they
still live. If I sing that song today, people will say "Who made that
song?" What a composition!

Vish: There was one singer we don't know much about. It was in the
70s. I don't remember much of the movie. I think the name was
'Sonal'. Who was Usha Rege?

MD: She was one of the chorus singers.

Vish: How did she get selected to sing this song?

MD: Because Lata didn't come.

Vish: What do you think of your music from Sonal? Your song 'Deewangi
yeh pyaar ki"

Aloka: Have you thought of re-recording some songs?

MD: [winks] You mean remix?
[room collapses in laughter]

MD: No remix for me.

Aloka: I meant in the way it was made.

MD: I could've sung better. For songs composed by other music
directors, I have to say that I was very sincere and honest. I was a
hard worker. Even when I sang for Mehmood, I was a very serious person.

Pradeep: You mean "Chatur naar"?

MD: Oh, yes. The other day we were watching Padosan. The song
'Vaango". My daughter asked, "How did you sing that song?" It
was for a South Indian. The gimmicks in that song. Masala. Like the
stuff you put in food. I used to make these masala. The music director
used to be awestruck, "Kaise gaa diya?"

Even for Shankar-Jaikishen's "Sur Na Saje", there are places
where I've improvised. Shankar said, "Bahut accha. Kya gaaya

There were many songs like that. I had to be given full freedom. Jaise
"Gori teri pai.ndaniyaan", "Tere naina talash kar", "Aayo
kahaan se ghanshyam" - those songs..I've given my best. I don't
think I can improvise on that.

Pradeep: [question on Kishore]

Manna De: Kishore was a great artiste. A great singer. What a voice.
Unparalleled. I have learnt so many things from him. From Mohd Rafi

Vish: The experience of being a music director for him. Was the studio
completely out of control at this point?


Vish: You know which song I am referring to? Of course you do. There is
a movie that you did for Khemchand Pra..

MD: [interrupts energetically] Oh..Khaali Pili kahe ko akkha din bom
marta hai?

[loud laughs]

MD: Y'know, he was Ashok Kumar's youngest brother. Ashok Kumar and
Vacha sahib started taking care of the activities at Bombay Talkies.
After Devika Ran and Himanshu Rai went, they took over. I was assistant
to Khemchand Prakash. I asked Khemchandji that I wanted Kishore to
sing. He said, "Ye baccha kya gayega?" Nahin Aap suniye to sahii.

>From the gate of Bombay Talkies, Kishore used to come with a stick in
his hand. He would never walk straight..he would walk this way and that
way and come to the entrance. What a character he was? Lovable

Twirling his stick, he said; "Mein ek gaana gaoonga"

ChhaDi ghuma ke.

"Bhindi Bazaar gaye the hum Khareedne ko tokri
Raste mein mil gaya ek gori si chokri"

[loud laughs]

Nachte hue gaata tha.

Khemchand Prakash ne bola,"Yeh to kamaal hai. Iska ye roop to kabhi
nahin dekha!"

Par aap dekhiye na mein isse ek gaana gavata hoon.

And when I told him, he said [excited voice] "haa dada...bol
bol..kaunsa gaana hai?"

Khaali Pili kahe ko akkha din bom marta hai

Kishore: "Ye gaana hai? Bilkul gaaonga"

[loud laughs]

And I composed it. The way he sang it. Pagal bana diya sabko.

[gets serious] He died very young. What a great singer.

[Talk on Mr. Batish between Vish, Naniwadekar and Manna De.]

Vish: You have even sung for O. P. Nayyar.

MD: One song that I sang for him was "Muh se mat lagaa".

Vish: Do you remember the name of the movie?

MD: No.

Vish. Johnny Walker. Now, "Tu hai mera prem devta" that really
an O. P. Nayyar composition?

MD: Yes.

Vish: That is really surprising.

MD: He would say, "Manna Da. Ye Todi hai ki Lalit hai?"

Vish: I appreciate the question.

MD: Yes, it is a good question.

Vish: You also sang with Asha "Bahoan ko zara laga de"

MD: That was with O.P.

Vish: Yes. I think those were the only songs with him.

MD: No. I sang with him later, when he was not with Asha. I sang a few
songs with him in the 70s.

Vish: Did you have any opportunity to compose songs for a film in which
Rafi sang.

MD: No. Not Rafi. Mukesh sang.

Arup; Did you sing in Anurag, for which Mukesh was the music director?

MD: I think he also made Malhar. I think I have a song in that. He was
the producer. I don't think I have sung in Anurag.

[Neha produces Geet Kosh and Manna De asks about it.]

Nneha: You can name any song that you like and we will try to retrieve

Shuroma: [in awe] My God, this is so unusual.

Vish: Do you realize? This is a trip to insanity. We live in it.

Shuroma: This is fascinating.

MD: It is.

[Arup retrieves a song from Anurag by Manna De. MD does not remember]

Vish: You have to listen to this Nagchampa song. I want to see your

Vish: A question about the Asha song from Tamasha "Bhool sake
na..". Is that composed by you? Your name is written on the 78 rpm.
It sounds very Bengali.

MD: I don't remember. Perhaps if I listen to the structure of the
tune, I will recognize whether it is mine.

[plays Lata's "Bhool sake na hum tumhe" from Tamasha]

MD: This is my tune.

Vish: Thanks. If I didn't know, I would've said that it was a
Bengali music director. So that's a major step in the right

Naniwadekar: Some phrases in this song are repeated in the Shivkanya

Vish: That means you have a signature. There are some phrases in the
songs that you like and you repeat it. Particularly in the minor
progressions. Something that is every Bengali's favorite -

Vish: Can we change the mood and play a song from Chamkee? It is a wild
song. By Lata. I'll risk my life by saying that it is a fantastic

[plays "arre-o-baabaaloo"]

MD: O.P. Nayyar told me, "Manna-da, kamaal kar diya. Kya baabaaloo


[plays Ashima Banerjee and Asha's song from Naina " laagi lagan

Vish: Who is playing the sarangi, Ram Narayan?

MD: It must be him. We were very close.

[brief talk on Ram Narayan/sarangi between Naniwadekar and MD.
Naniwadekar mentions that some Canadians learn sarangi from his
daughter in Toronto. Arup says "Firangi learning sarangi". MD
cracks up.]

MD: It is a very tough instrument [and shows which part of the fingers
play it.]

Vish: Which was your first Hindi film?

MD: I came to Bombay with my uncle in 1943. My uncle was giving the
music for [inaudible] for Laxmi productions. There was a song called
"Jago Aayi Usha" and a little girl was supposed to sing it. They
searched for little singing boys and I sang it.

Vish: In "Kanha bole na', when Lata starts the song, there is a
violin piece and no other accompaniment. She sings then the violin
takes over. Who played the violin?

MD: It was Salil-babu's music, right? 1976..was it Indian style?

Vish: No, western style.

Aloka: Perhaps it was Manoj [son of Shailendra]. He played for S.D.
Burman and R.D. Burman.

MD: Uttam Singh was a very good violinist. He played for me in the
Madan Mohan song..[tries to recall]

Vish: It is surprising that all your favorite songs are
Shankar-Jaikishen songs, with the one exception from Hamdard. That is

Deepak: Perhaps this is the secret of staying young. To think forward.

Vikram; The evening became much more livelier because of his

Vish: I an not sure it was disagreement.


Vish: He is couching it in some professional delicacy.

MD: The fact remains that I strongly advocate that kind of thinking. Be
it singing, compositions or writing. In my profession, I have met great
masters. Those who have not moved with the times, they have fallen by
the wayside.

Vish: It is one thing to move with the times, but not at the cost of
melody. That is not progressiveness. It is cut and paste. I know you
are not saying that.

MD: I remember the song "Zindagi Khwab hai". Something happened and
I sang it. Mukesh was very hurt. Motilal - Jaagte Raho - was
Mukesh's cousin. When I sang that song, Mukesh was very upset. He
said that he would sing one of my songs. But he never did.

Vish: Do you remember the two Salil-da's compositions that you sang,
with Shamshadji?

MD: Yes, I remember. Don't ask me the names [titles] of the song. But
I do remember that I sang those.

[talk on non-film songs including Madhushala]

MD: I thank God for making him chose me to sing those songs [of

[briefly hums "Saanvare ghunghat pat kholo" and gives a background
of a version in a Bengali film {Lalitapriya?} and then in a Hindi film.

Vish: Speaking of songs like these --Teesri Kasam. That has to be a
song arranged by Shankarji...chalata musafir.

MD: I was taught by Shailendra. He was a Bihari. This was from there.
He taught me the song.

[Someone tries to recall a B&W song with Asha Parekh. Neha suggests
"Chunari sambhal gori" from Baharoan Ke Sapne.]

MD: Nobody could believe that Lata sang that song. They thought it was
Asha. [in reply to a question] It was not done in multiple takes. We
rehearsed for 10 days. Only "Ye Ishq Ishq " which, was a 12 minute
song was done in two-halves. The Ye Ishq Ishq part was recorded

[inaudible conversation]


Vish adds, "Manna Dey did talk briefly about Pulak Bandopadhyay. He
was a prolific writer of light Bengali songs. A significant chunk of
Manna babu's Bengali work has been penned by him (along with the other
signficant contributor - Gauriprasanna Majumdar). Pulak Banerjee died
recently - took his own life. The man was in his 60's. Manna Dey
said he really misses him. This part may not have reached the video
cameras in the room."

That concludes the transcript of the meeting with Mr. Manna De.

Warm Regards
Arun Simha

Aug 21, 2005, 2:57:00 PM8/21/05
to wrote:
> =========================================================
> Please do not copy this transcript for a magazine, website or
> any other forum.
> =========================================================

...for publication in a magazine, website....

Okay, I * am* tired.


Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages