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Mamata surprises Manna Dey with special visit, award

Mamata surprises Manna Dey with special visit, award
It was a unique and emotional meeting between two of a kind when the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee made an unannounced visit and landed up on Thursday at the doorstep of veteran singer Manna Dey. The spontaneous Banerjee, who has always been an ardent fan of  Dey’s singing, took the  artiste by complete surprise when she personally presented the first ever Bishesh Maha Sangeet Samman (Pre Eminent Music Award) to the nonagenarian singer.

The award, which will be officially announced during the Sangeet Mela in Kolkata, to be held from 6 to 13 April, is a special recognition for the maestro’s boundless and enriching contribution of a lifetime to both Indian and Bengali musical cultures.  

Banerjee, who is close to the Bengal’s artistic community, flew to the 92-year-old artiste’s Bangalore residence to personally hand over the prestigious inaugural award, along with the certificate, as well as a golden pendant upon which the words ‘Banglar’ Gorbo (Bengal’s Pride) were inscribed.       

Manna Dey was overcome with emotion as he openly declared that this was the biggest reward of life, although the music maestro has previously been the recipient of several accolades, including the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, the highest honour given to a performing artist in India.

Dey was moved by Banerjee’s artless adoration when she presented him with treats from Noku’r, a famous North Calcultta sweet shop. Banerjee also gave Dey, who will turn 93 on 1 May, a special bouquet, strung together of 94 roses, saying that the extra rose was meant to be an advance wish for his next birthday. Dey gushed that no other chief minister of West Bengal had ever made him feel so special.

As the music-loving leader of Trinamool Congress conveyed Bengal’s undying love for its famous son, who had reignited the Bengali and Hindi film music with the fires of indigenous folk melodies of the land, the ailing singer, who lives with his younger daughter, was overwhelmed.

She told him that Bengali music industry still wants to hear him sing and that his old pals such as Sandhya Mukherjee, Dijen Mukherjee and other famous singers missed him dearly. To this Manna Dey replied that he can easily set the stage ablaze with his music for at least two hours at a stretch, though it is difficult for him to stand or walk. Dey further added that even though India still listens to his songs, the whole world was waiting to hear what Mamata Banerjee had to say.

As Banerjee came out of Dey’s Kalyan Nagar residence after the half and half long meeting, Bangalore came face to face with a leader and crowd-puller of such stature. People spontaneously gathered around as Banerjee took to the streets, refused VIP police protection and walked to the nearby Gol Temple, a famous Ramakrishna Mission Math, which had been visited by Maa Sharada in the 19th century. The chief minister also enjoyed the sandhya aarti and also had some Prasad with the devotees, who were stunned by Banerjee’s casual approach and natural charm.

(The writer is Editor-in-chief of News Time Television channel)
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