Manna Dey – Balraj Sahni – Giants In Their Field

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1st May, the date has its own importance. International Labours’ Day/Workers’ Day/May Day, in India we have Maharashtra Day, Gujrat Day. Indian film industry/Hindi cinema also celebrates this day. It is the birth anniversary of Manna Dey and Balraj Sahni, the giants in their field. Balraj Sahniwhose real name was Yudhishtir Sahni, born on 1st May 1913 in Rawalpindi, was a learned person. After securing a bachelor’s degree in Hindi and a master’s degree in English literature from the Lahore university, he was to join his family’s business in Rawalpindi. But Balraj Sahni was always interested in acting, plays and theatres. In 1930, he joined Rabindranath Tagore’s Shantiniketan as an English teacher, where he served for 8 years. Later he joined BBC London as radio announcer in Hindi and stayed in England for 5 years. After he returned to India in 1943, he pursued his passion for acting via Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA). He entered Hindi film industry with Insaaf and Dharti Ke Laal (1946). This foolowed by number of acclaimed films like – Do Bigha Zameen, Seema, Lajwanti, Heera Moti, Chhoti Behen, Anuradha, Kabuliwala, Anpadh, Haqeeqat, Waqt etc where many of his songs were playbacked by Manna Dey.
Prabodh Chandra Dey, who we know better as Manna Dey, aspired to become a wrestler and was trained in wrestling. But he had to discontinue it due to poor eyesight. He pursued singing after that and the rest is history.
This year is his birth centenary and here’s how film archivist Pavan Jha has paid tribute –

अपनी कहानी छोड़ जा,
कुछ तो निशानी छोड़ जा
कौन कहे इस ओर
तू फिर आये ना आये
मौसम बीता जाये

You only LIVE Once…and TIME is the most significant Currency that we all have at our hands in a lifetime. How you spend & invest it, matters the most, as its a one way Money like the journey of Life – Kaun kahe iss or tu phir aaye na aaye
Hundred Years ago, a legend was born, and during his stay at Planet Earth, made an everlasting impression on a few generations with his soulful voice & memorable singing.
Today is 100th Birthday of Manna Dey, a legendary & immortal voice of our times which has given us so many magical moments of joy, so many reasons to be happy, so many songs to cherish. His Nishanis will keep him alive forever, as long as we are.
On Film, its a song of separation from the beloved Home-Land, with a farmer leaving his village for the big-bad cities, in search of labor work, on a larger face its a showcase of a big-big tragedy called INDIA, post independence. People leaving the villages, the heartland and the roots in agriculture, to escape the unfortunate curse of feudalism and opting for labor work in the construction age of new Concrete dominated Modern India. The perils of that escape are evident now, as we have not achieved the real growth even 70 yrs post independence – Do Beegha Zameen.
On a truly larger context, its a song on significance of Life, specially of a sum total-when its done. Shailendra conveys a mantra, “spend the life wisely & spread love” (Beej Bichha Le Pyar Ke) and Make it worthwhile to leave an everlasting impression of your existence (apn kahaani chhod ja) .. Just like the creators of this song & film has done. #Shailendra #SalilDa #LataMangeshkar #BimalRoy

कौन कहे इस ’ओर’
तू फिर आए न आए
मौसम बीता जाये #DoBeeghaZameen

Mannada is not with us any more physically, but his soulful voice & vibes can be felt in the air we breathe, thru the songs we heart & cherish. I was fortunate to meet him in person and get his blessings a few times. May-1 was the day of birthday phone calls to him for a few years.. Hope this year too our birthday wishes reaches him, transcending the skies..

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan


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