"I feel really sad to see a colleague go. We sang so many memorable melodies together. If there was duets as romantic as 'Pyar hua ikrar hua', 'Yeh raat bheegi bheegi' and "Sochke yeh gagan jhoome' with Manna Da, we also sang light playful songs," said Lata.
Manna Dey died Thursday at a private hospital in Bangalore after prolonged illness. He had been ailing for four months. He was 94
"Though he was unwell for some time, his going away saddens me deeply, as he was the last of my singing colleagues," said Lata.
"Manna Da was a very versatile singer. He started his career as a singer much before I did. I remember as children we Mangeshkar siblings used to hear Manna Da's songs on the radio," said Lata who sang with Manna Dey for the first time in 1953.
"It was a song titled 'Ritu aaye ritu jaaye' composed by Anil Da (composer Anil Biswas). Manna Da was very accomplished in Hindustani classical music. He inherited his talent from his uncle K.C. Dey. I had met Dey saab in Kolkata. At that time I didn't know Manna Da was related to him. Manna Da would proudly say he learnt music from his uncle," said Lata.
Apart from recording studios, Lata says that they used to meet socially and quite frequently.
"I used to got to his house... At that time Manna Da used to live alone. Later we couldn't meet as much," she said.
"I think the last time we met was when we sang the songs in the Bengali version of V. Shantaram's Marathi film 'Amar Bhopali'. I think we were called to sing songs together when the tune required a classical training, though we also did some fun songs like 'Aiso re papi bichua' for Salil Da (Salil Chowdhary) and 'Chunri sambhal gori' for Pancham (R.D. Burman).
"Manna Da was a very versatile singer. It was my pleasure to give him an award named after my father some years ago. He deserved a lot more than he got," she said.