The Indian music fraternity is jubilant with the news that legendary singer Manna Dey has been selected for the 2007 Dada Saheb Phalke Award, the highest award in Indian cinema, but many feel that the honour has come too late.
The 90-year-old singer who has sung evergreens hits like 'Ae Mere Pyaare Vatan' and 'Poocho Na Kaise' will be conferred the award in a ceremony in Delhi on October 21 by President Pratibha Patil.
The singer who has continued performing over the years, is currently in New York for a cultural show, but his fans and supporters back home are happy with the honour.
"I am very pleased to hear that he has got the award but he should have got this award much earlier. I think it is a delayed achievement for someone like him," Pyarelal of Laxmikant-Pyarelal composer duo told PTI.
Singer Kavita Krishnamurthi also believes that the award has come too late for the legendary singer. "Manna Dey Has been a father figure for me in my life and I started off my career performing with him. This award was overdue, maybe he should have got it much earlier because he is one of those musicians, who had learnt classical music very seriously and made it palatable for the common man," Krishnamurthi said.
Similar sentiment was echoed by singer Abhijeet and music composer Anu Malik. "I understand that the award is always given late but for someone like Dada, it has come really late. He is like an institute of music, offering every subject, be it comedy, passionate songs, sad, romantic or classical," said singer Abhijeet.
"I am elated after hearing this piece of news. It is a moment of great pride and honour. He is the most under-rated singer we have in the industry. The media never talks about his songs," music director Anu Malik said.
Considered one of the greatest playback singers of Indian cinema, Dey ruled the music scene from the 1950s to the 1970s with his versatile voice singing more than 3,500 songs in many languages including Bengali and Malayalam.
"We have worked together in many films and found him to be very versatile. He is one of the greatest singer India has ever had. Be it classical, romantic, light or fun-filled songs, he was the best in every genre of music," Pyarelal said.
"Manna Dey is the one who deserves it. He is the pride of India. He is one of the greatest singers India ever had. For me, he is like a father-figure. His songs, 'Pyaar Huan Ikraar Hua', 'Laga Chunri Mein Daag', 'Ae Meri Zohrazabi', are among my favourites," said musician Bappi Lahiri.
Dey is also regarded as an idol by the young generation of rising musicians who see him as an inspiring example.
"I am very happy for him. He is one of the best playback singers we ever had in India. As a child, we always used to sing his songs. I have grown up listening to his songs. I am a great fan of his voice and his style of singing. I specially used to like his classical-based songs," said singer Mohit Chauhan who has hits like 'Masakalli' and 'Tum Se Hi' to his credit.
"He is the Dronacharya of Indian music. For an aspiring singer, he is the best source of inspiration," Abhijeet added.
"Besides being a great artist, he is also a great human being. He has never compromised with his principles in his life. He has encouraged many young artists including me," Malik said. PTI