Manna Dey was an Englishman in his discipline: Shameer Tandon

Subhash K. Jha
25 October 2013

Mumbai, Oct 25 (IANS) Composer Shameer Tandon was perhaps the last musician to work with Manna Dey. Recalling his experiences with the singing giant, he said that the legned was "86 years young that time" and "like an Englishman in the way he spoke and his discipline".

"I have been blessed that I had the opportunity to record with Mannada eight years ago for a film called 'Umar', he was 86 years 'young' that time," said Tandon and added that he "chased him to record" for him.

"He said by then he had given up singing for Bollywood. He was doing only concerts to run his kitchen. He wondered why an 86-year old is being chased by a young composer to record for a young hero.

"I had to explain to him that it's a small festival film bout three old men who are mistreated in Britain by their children... That the song would be picturised on three 70-year-old men played by Prem Chopra, Kadar Khan and Satish Kaushik. Manna Da understood why I was insisting on him," said

Tandon, who had composed music for films like "Page 3", "Corporate" and "Traffic Signal".

Once Dey agreed, Tandon sent him the scratch and Dey like the melody.

"I went to Bangalore and he invited me home for coffee. I briefed him on the song. The next day he said he would report at 9 a.m. to the studio and he was there sharp at 8.50 am. He was an Englishman in the way he spoke and in his discipline," he said.

"Would you believe, at the age of 86 in one take he recorded the entire song! I realized later that the song was on a very high note since it was a little qawwalish, and at that age its difficult if not impossible for anyone to hit those high notes. But Dada just delivered with such ease in one go. The man refused to take money," recalled Tandon.

"He said he will sing for his fans on stage till his last breath. He invited me for some of his concerts, which I went and saw. I saw the ageless man entertain his audiences for three hours non-stop.

Dey died Thursday after a prolonged illness. He was 94.

"Today, when he passes away at 94 we should all celebrate and feel happy that he lived a complete life...The man had no ego. He was a child...No mobile ringing. No hurry to leave the studio. No unnecessary gossip. He refused to take money but I insisted. He said, 'Ashirwaad samajh ke rakhlo'. But I just left the envelope in his car," said Tandon.

"I had him sing a song for me. What more could I ask for in life? He was so loving and that was in the song that I recorded for him. The words were 'Duniya waalon ko nahi kuch bhi khabar, nahin pyar karne ki hai koi umar.'"

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