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Marathi Melodies by Manna Dey

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As Hindi cinema started flourishing in Mumbai, it started attracting talent from across the whole nation. Artists with varied languages and cultures have been coming together, making Hindi cinema a different culture in itself, which is much more than the sum total of the cultures that it has been absorbing. Influence of this diversity has always been evident in the stories, lyrics and music of the films.

Hindi cinema’s close sibling, Marathi cinema, was also thriving parallelly in and around Mumbai. No wonder, the Marathi production houses were tempted to deploy non-Marathi artists, mainly actors, composers and singers; and at the same time, the non-Marathi artists were enticed by Marathi films. As a result, the presence of artists from Hindi cinema in Marathi films has been a frequent phenomenon, right from early years.

The celebrated golden era singer Manna Dey is among the top Hindi cinema artists, who have also performed in Marathi films. He is one of the most versatile male singers of Hindi cinema who has sung songs across all genres – comedy, romantic, melancholic and foot tapping numbers – with equal proficiency, classical songs being his forte. In fact, he gave a different dimension to romantic rendition by male singers. The population of his Marathi songs is a perfect representation of his versatility. Here is a quick rundown through his Marathi repertoire.

Manna Dey worked with many prominent Marathi composers like Datta Davjekar, Snehal Bhatkar, Sudheer Phadke, Vasant Desai, Vasant Pawar, Ram Kadam and Prabhakar Jog (many of these names are popular in Hindi film music too).

Ram Kadam tops this list. He used Manna Dey’s voice in a nursery rhyme like song “A Aa Aai, Ma Ma Makaa” from Ek Dhaaga Sukhaacha (1961), and in philosophical and spiritual songs like “Dev dayecha athaang saagar” (Kshan Aala Bhagyaacha – 1962), “Kaahi oon, tar kadhi saawali” (Pahuni – 1976), and “Goapaala, Gopaala, Devakinandan Gopaala” (Devaki Nandan Gopala – 1977).

Manna Dey has sung his most celebrated Marathi song “Ghan ghanamaala nabhi daatalya” (Varadkashina – 1962) under the baton of Vasant Pawar. Another notable song that he has sung for Vasant Pawar is “Saarkha kaal chaalala pudhe” from Don Ghadicha Daav (1958).

Other Marathi composers for whom Manna Dey has sung are Vasant Desai (“Jay jay ho Maharashtracha” for “Dhanya Te Santaji Dhanaji” – 1968), Snehal Bhatkar (“Door wha sajana”, a duet with Usha Mnageshkar for “Yaa Maalak” – 1964 and a soulful solo “Ha dukkhabog saara” for “Chimukla Pahuna” – 1967), Sudheer Phadke (“Home sweet home” for “Jawai Vikat Ghene Aahe” – 1973 sung together with Asha Bhosle and Jaywant Kulkarni), Datta Davjekar (“Preeti preeti saare mhanati”, a duet with Asha Bhosle for “Juna Te Sona” – 1967), C. Ramchandra (“House of bamboo”, a foot tapping duet with Pramila Datar for “Gharkul” – 1970, inspired by ‘The House of Bamboo’ by Andy Williams), the celebrated violinist Prabhakar Jog (“Dhund aaj doley” for “Daam Kari Kaam” – 1971) and Om Dattaram (“Tu maajhya swapnaanchi Kalpana”, a duet with Usha Mangeshkar for Sunil Gavaskar starrer “Saawali Premachi” – 1980). Om Dattaram is the famous Hindi composer Dattaram, who was also an important part of the Shankar Jaikishan troop.

Manna Dey has also sung a few Marathi songs under the baton of some non-Marathi composers, who composed soundtracks of Marathi films. Such songs include “Preet rangali ga”, a duet with Lata Mangeshkar for Shreemaan Baalaasaaheb (1964) and “Swarga mile dharaneela”, a duet with Usha Mangeshkar for Shreemant Mehuna Paahije (1967), both composed by Mohammed Shafi; and “Saang sakhe, saang na”, a duet with Asha Bhosle, composed by Avinash Vyas for Nadaadeep (1962).

Manna Dey’s non-film Marathi repertoire includes a few Abhangas (devotional songs) sung for Anna Joshi and a couple of philosophical songs sung for Shreenivas Khale.

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