Manna Dey, a legend across generations

Tributes pour in: There is no substitute, says Bengal chief minister

Manna Dey, a legend across generations

A look at Facebook on Thursday morning would point out the extent of Manna Dey’s popularity. The singer, who had attained the status of a legend much before the advent of the internet, seemed to have fans even among those who are now in their twenties.

His ancestral home in a narrow north Kolkata lane, elicited as much interest as several fans wanted to check out first-hand the place where Dey was born and trained as a singer with a voice that matched pace with matinee idols, and from time to time even moved the whole nation. Dey was as much the voice of Uttam Kumar, Bengal’s biggest screen icon, as much as he was of Rajesh Khanna.

The Dey residence, however, wore a dull look, with a pall of gloom over the whole neighbourhood, where “Mana”, as he was called by family and friends, once played and practised for hours under the guidance of his legendary uncle, Krishna Chandra Dey, a musician and an actor. 

Dey’s friend Amrita Dutta bade a tearful adieu. Recalling the days of youth, he said Manna was not only a good singer but also a sportsman with tremendous interest in football and cricket. “We used to play cricket and football, fly kites together. He was our leader and quite an athlete and was involved in keeping fit. I was told he used to exercise regularly, till a few years back and that’s how he could live so long,” he said.

“For me the loss is deeply personal because he was not just my uncle but also my teacher,” Sudeb, Dey’s nephew and student, said. Subrata, the singer’s grand-nephew, remembered him as someone who had a busy scheduled whenever he visited Kolkata. 
“Whenever he was in Kolkata our house would see a steady flow of star musicians. He was a foodie and loved Bengali cuisine, particularly fish,” Subrata reminisced.

Employees of Chacha’s Hotel, a popular eatery in north Kolkata, well-known for dishes like chicken cutlet, prawn cutlet and fish fry, also remembered Dey as a foodie who would often drop by the shop a few furlongs away from his house. 

Dey, best known across generations for his song on the Coffee House, a soulful anthem to friendship, togetherness and loss, also visited the place from time to time, family members said. 

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