Manek Premchand was born in New Delhi near the middle of the last century. He went to school in New Delhi and Bombay. He went on to graduate from Bombay University in Arts, majoring in Economics and Political Science. He also has a Diploma in Journalism and Public Relations from Siddhartha College of Mass Communications, Bombay.
The author has many friends in the film industry, and remains fascinated by the enormous role that our cinema and its music have played as a key gluing medium in a country as disparate as ours. This fascination has motivated him to write five books (and one-thirds of a sixth book), besides hundreds of articles on the subject. These books are listed in the Books section of this website.
Apart from authoring books, Manek Premchand has written numerous articles on Indian film music, published in the Press media, many of which can be found in the Published Essays section of this website. In Jaihind College he was the student editor of the monthly bulletin and the annual magazine. Much later, he wrote a music column in Mumbai’s Afternoon Dispatch & Courier, which ran for years. Several other newspapers, such as Pioneer, and Mumbai Mirror, have featured his thoughts on music. Currently, he runs a Sunday column, which appears in DNA Jaipur, and which is sometimes reproduced in other editions of that newspaper. This column was called On Melody’s Wings for a few years, and has now been renamed On My Radar. These essays can also be found on the net.
He has also been a Consultant with Saregama India Ltd, where his role was to make CD compilations based on, for example, raag-raaginis (Yaman, Bhairavi, etc), or musical instruments (Piano, Accordion and more), or the music of dance forms such as Twist, Rock-N-Roll etc. In addition, his brief included meeting and interviewing artists such as AR Rehman, Manna Dey, and Suraiya.
On WorldSpace Satellite Radio’s Farishta channel, he was a show host till the service was suddenly shut down. In his twice-a-week shows
called Nau-Do-Gyarah, he met with and interviewed a slew of personalities such as Shamshad Begum, Lata Mangeshkar, Shiv Kumar Sharma, Ram Narain, Burjor and Kersi Lord, Uttam Singh, Manohari Singh, Bahadur Nanji, Kishore Desai, Homi Mullan, Jairam Acharya, Manna Dey, etc. All of these were engaged in music making for films, in one way or another. Some of these interviews have been uploaded to the net, even as others await their turn.
The radio hosting was not limited to WorldSpace alone. A few years’ stints happened on All India Radio (FM Gold, Wednesday nights at 10 pm), and the web portal www.bollywoodondemand.com. Manek Premchand is frequently asked to share his knowledge on stage shows and TV, especially on NDTV 24/7, which has a long-running show called Bollywood Roots.
In his work for his books and these other platforms, Manek Premchand has interviewed a host of music personalities. Apart from those named above, these luminaries include Khayyam, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Sudha Malhotra, Naqsh Lyallpuri, Pyarelal, Talat Mahmood, Prem Dhawan, OP Nayyar, Anil Biswas, Anand and Milind, Snehal Bhatkar, Kidar Sharma, Anu Malik, Gulshan Bawra, Enoch Daniels, Pt. Ram Narain and many more. Audio interviews with these subjects, and many of the radio shows for the above platforms are also in the process of being uploaded, so that we can get a better appreciation of the great landscape of the music of Hindi cinema.
Manek was also awarded a two-year Senior Fellowship by the Ministry of Culture, from June 2009 to May 2011. The subject: The Changing Face of Lyrics in Hindi Cinema. Reference: File No. F.3-174/2008-S & F of the Ministry of Culture.
On 23rd February 2013, he curated a one-day event, called “100 Years of Indian Cinema—A Musical Journey”, in association with Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai. This event engaged talks backed by singing, playing, or audio-visual presentations by ten of the most significant people engaged with the music of our films since the 1940s. This includes onetime actress and singer Sushila Rani Patel, wife of the legendary film journalist, Baburao Patel. Besides this landmark event, over the past several years, he has been associated with dozens of such events with Bhavan’s Kala Kendra, which was founded by Kulapati KM Munshi with the express purpose of spreading knowledge, while remaining wedded to the ethos of Indian culture. Testimonials for all these events have been furnished by Bhavan’s.
Manek also gave a 2-hour lecture to the students of Mass Communications, Manipal Institute of Communications, Karnataka, on 28th April 2013. The subject: 100 Years of Indian Cinema. This lecture was synchronously timed for the prestigious university to give him a Plague of Appreciation, with an attendant ceremony and speeches in recognition of his academic work by many members of Faculty, including Mr. MV Kamath, and also by the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Manipal University, Mr. Vinod Bhatt. Another lecture to a newer batch of students at the same University was delivered on 26th September 2015, the subject being the Evolution of Music in Hindi Cinema.
Earlier, on 31 July 2010 was launched Mohammed Rafi Academy, which Manek Premchand anchored, and in which he became a founding member, along with the legend’s son Shahid Rafi and others. Here is a video link to the start of that launch.
Earlier still, in 2004 and 2005, Manek anchored two high-profile musical events for FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) at Jamshed Bhabha auditorium in Mumbai, where screen personalities Dilip Kumar, Waheeda Rehman, Saira Banu, Asha Parekh, Shammi Kapoor and Vyjayantimala were given Lifetime Achievement Awards. A key feature of these events was long interviews with these stars on the stage.
In September 2007, Manek was invited by the Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Mumbai, to speak at the event 100 Years of Recorded Sound in India. His subject: Abhi to main jawaan hoon (film music and its undying melodies).
In April 2014, he was invited by Dr. Mrudula Joshi, convenor, to be on the Panel of Advisors to the University of Mumbai, on the planned Post Graduate Diploma in Light Music, along with Pt. Ulhas Bapat.
In March 2016, his book Talat Mahmood—Velvet Voice was nominated for an award of excellence for 1916 by the Association for Recorded Sound Collections, Indiana USA.
Manek Premchand has been invited to several Rotary Club chapters in Mumbai and has entertained them with his audio-visual presentations, usually in places like Cricket Club of India, Radio Club, WIAA Club, MC Ghia Hall etc. He has been Guest of Honour at many music workshops such as those conducted by the Naushad Sangeet Samiti, Mumbai, Veteran Citizen’s Forum, Thane, Shankar-Jaikishan Foundation, Ahmedabad, and Lata Dinanath Mangeshkar Sangrahalaya, Indore.
Manek has lived abroad and travelled extensively.
Currently, he is engaged in writing his next book.