Bangalore: Legendary playback singer Manna Dey, who mesmerised generations of listeners with his inimitable voice for over five decades with hits like 'ay mere pyara watan', 'laaga chunri me daag' and 'poocho na kaise', died at a hospital here today at the age of 94 after prolonged illness.
Dey, who was in and out of Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospital in the last five months for respiratory and renal problems, died of cardiac arrest with his daughter Shumita Deb and son-in-law Jnanranjan Deb by his bedside when the end came at 3.50 AM.
The condition of Dey, who had made Bangalore his home for the last many years, deteriorated since yesterday afternoon, hospital spokesman Vasuki said.
With the demise of Dey, the void has become complete in the famous quartet of singers Rafi, Mukesh, and Kishore Kumar, who dominated the Hindi music industry from 1950s to 1970s.
The mortal remains of Dey, whose unique voice lent a rare dimension to his persona, were cremated at Hebbal crematorium here with Jnanranjan Deb performing the last rites with none from the Bollywood fraternity or government present.
Dey's body was kept at Ravindra Kalakshetra for about two hours for paying homage amid criticism that arrangements were inadequate, before it was taken in a flower bedecked van to the crematorium.
"He (Dey) had simple ideals... he wanted the last rites to be as simple as possible," Shumita told reporters. Dey, who had turned a recluse in the last years of his live, is survived by two daughters-- the second living in US. His wife Sulochana predeceased him in January this year.
Dey, who rendered all-time hits like 'zindagi kaisi hai paheli' (Anand), 'yeh dosti' (Sholay) and 'ek chatur naar' (Padosan) and 'yeh raat bheegi bheegi' (Chori Chori), was equally at ease, be it romantic ballads, intricate raga-based songs, qawwalis and fast-paced modern numbers.
Born in Kolkata in 1919, Dey sang over 3,500 songs in Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada and Assamese films before quitting movies in the '90s. His last song was 'Hamari hi mutthi mein' for 1991 film 'Prahaar'.