Legendary singer Manna Dey stole the hearts of Malayalis by a single song in the 1964 classic 'Chemmeen".
The song "Manase myne varu..." composed by Salil Choudhury is an all-time hit because of its romantic charm and emotional intensity. According to film buffs, no other singer in Malayalam can claim such a distinction which Manna Dey alone enjoys on account of the song he immortalised by his inimitable rendering.
Based on the novel by Jnanpith laureate Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, Chemmeen's film version directed by Ramu Karyat is considered a classic by cultural historians, which won the President's Gold medal.
Manna Dey's song was for the character depicted by Madhu in Chemmeen, which also featured leading stars of the time like Satyan, Sheela and Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair.
According to Malayalam film historian N Balagopal, "Salilda chose Manna Dey for the song as he knew that the emotional intensity of this song could be imbibed by no singer other than Manna Dey. This is a song that stands out by its romantic charm as well as expression of pathos of a forlorn lover. The sweetness of his voice and the tenor of rendering even blurred minor lapses in pronouncing some of the Malayalam words," he said.
In the 1970s, Manna Dey sang a second song in Malayalam, a chorus in 'Nellu", also directed by Ramu Karyat and music given again by Salil Choudhury. That also became popular but never enjoyed the all-time appeal of his first song.