Prabodh Chandra Dey (born 1 May 1919 better known by his nickname Manna Dey (Bengali: মান্না দে), is a playback singer in Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Assamese films. Along with Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh he was a part of Indian film playback music industry. He is rated as the best[according to whom?] classical singer among all singers of Hindi film music, though he sang various types of songs from pop to folk. He has recorded more than 3500 songs over the course of his career. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri in 1971, the Padma Bhushan in 2005 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2007.
Dey was born to Purna Chandra (father) and Mahamaya Dey (mother) on 1 May 1919. Besides his parents, his youngest paternal uncle, Sangeetacharya (meaning "Venerable Teacher of Music" in Sanskrit), K. C. Dey highly inspired and influenced him. Dey received his early education in a small pre-primary school named Indu Babur Pathshala. Thereafter he attended Scottish Church Collegiate School and Scottish Church College, followed by Vidyasagar College where he received his graduate education.
During Dey’s years at Scottish Church College, he sang to entertain his classmates. He began taking singing lessons from his uncle, Krishna Chandra Dey and Ustad Dabir Khan. During this period, Manna Dey stood first for three consecutive years in three different categories of inter-collegiate singing competitions. In 1942, Dey accompanied Krishna Chandra Dey on a visit to Bombay. There he started working as an assistant. First under Krishna Chandra Dey, and then under Sachin Dev Burman. Later, he assisted other music composers and then started to work independently. While working independently as a music director for various Hindi movies, Manna Dey continued to take musical lessons in Hindustani classical music from Ustad Aman Ali Khan and Ustad Abdul Rahman Khan.
Dey started his career in playback singing with the movie, Tamanna, in 1943. The musical score was by Krishna Chandra Dey and Manna sang a duet with Suraiya. The song was an instant hit. He sang a solo composed by Sachin Dev Burman, Upar Gagan Vishal, in the 1950 movie, Mashal. Its lyrics were written by Kavi Pradeep. In 1952, Dey sang for a Bengali and a Marathi movie with the same name and storyline, Amar Bhupali. This established him as a leading playback singer.
Dey recorded popular duets with Mohd. Rafi, Dey sang 58 duets like "Isq Isq" (Barsaat Ki Raat) "Tu hai mera prem Devta (Kalpana), "Mama o mama" (Parvarish). With Lata Mangeshkar, Manna recorded 113 duets including Yeh raat bhigi bhigi,"Pyar hua iqrar hua", "Aja sanam madhur chandni mein hum", "Ritu aye". With Asha Bhosle, Manna recorded more than 100 duets including "Re man sur me ga", "Tu chupi hai kahan", "Zindegi hai khel". Dey also sang with singer/composer, Hemant Kumar (Hemanta Mukherjee), in Bengali movies, and also for some other Bengali composers like Nachiketa Ghosh and Sudhin Dasgupta. He sang a duet, "Ke Prothom Kachhe Esechi", with Lata Mangeshkar in the movie Sankhyabela. He also performed Rabindra Sangeet and has recorded over 3500 songs. In addition to film songs, Dey has released several albums of devotional songs of Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj.
On 18 December 1953, Manna Dey married Sulochana Kumaran from Kerala, they have two daughters: Shuroma, born on October 19, 1956 and Sumita, born on June 20, 1958. Sulochana died in Bangalore on January 18, 2012. She had been suffering from cancer for some time. Manna Dey currently lives in Bangalore in the township of Kalyannagar after spending more than fifty years in Mumbai. He also maintains a Calcutta address. He still travels widely in the world to present musical programs. Dey's Bengali language autobiography, Jiboner Jalsaghorey, has been published by the renowned Ananda Publisher in the year 2005 which has been translated in English as Memories Come Alive, in Hindi as Yaden Jee Uthi and in Marathi as Jiboner Jalsaghorey.
Jibaner Jalsaghore, a documentary on Dey's life, was released in 2008. Manna Dey Sangeet Academy is developing a complete archive on Manna Dey. In association with Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, the Manna Dey Music Archive has been developed in the Sangeet Bhawan. He has also lent his voice for Madhushala, composed by Late Harivansh Rai Bachchan. Dey has been honored with the titles Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan.