Geeta Dutt

'Blazing vividness she came and blazing vividness she went..' That sums up the life of Geeta Dutt, the songstress with the enchanting dulcet voice that defied convention.

Geeta Roy was born into a rich zamindar's family in Faridpur, East Bengal in the year 1930. In 1942 when she was just twelve her parents shifted to Mumbai.Here, Hanuman Prasad overheard Geeta singing in her Dadar apartment. He launched her in a chorus song in Bhakta Prahlad( 1946 ). She had two lines to sing but that was enough to change her destiny. S.D.Burman loved her voice and offered her a solo in Do Bhai.The music of that film clicked in a big way particularly 'Mera sundar sapna beet gaya.'a pathos ridden melody. She was only fifteen then. Disc scales of the song rocketed to new heights. 1947-1949 saw Geeta Roy rule as the number one playback singer in the Mumbai film industry as she moved from strength to strength. Unlike her contemporaries like Shamshad Begum, she had neither the heavily nasal voice nor the base in classical music. The only training she received was from Hirendranath Nandy back home.

Only two singers managed to survive the Lata onslaught in the 1950s. Shamshad Begam and Geeta Roy. Though relegated to the second spot, Geeta managed to hold her own against Lata for more than a decade and she and Lata were the premier two female playback singers of the 1950s. At this time , Geeta ruled the roost. But her work up to now was mainly devotional (Jogan, for instance), and she was in danger of being slotted. But 1951 also saw the release of a film, Baazi. Baazi with its fast, jazzy tracks changed that. Tadbeer Se Bigdi Hui' became a rage and Geeta's image was never the same. Directed by first time director Guru Dutt, the film, a crime thriller was a trend setter of sorts, leading to a spate of urban crime films that Bollywood churned out in the 1950s. The jazzy musical score revealed a new facet to Geeta's singing. The sex appeal in her voice and the ease with which she went western was marvellous to behold. While every song in the film was a raging hit, one stood out for special appeal. From then on in the 1950s for a club dance or a seductive song, the first choice was Geeta.During the recording of the song she met the young director of the film, Guru Dutt. Thus blossomed a romance and an impulsive extrovert, Geeta married saturnine Guru Dutt on 26 May 1953 and had three children Tarun and Arun and a daughter Nina. Geeta went on to sing some of her best songs in her husband's films while continuing singing in various outside assignments as well.

Around this time, novice composer O.P.Nayyar approached Geeta. Aasman bombed but she saw his potential and recommended him to Guru Dutt. With Aar Paar the same year, both composer and singer scaled new heights with 'Babuji Dheere Chalna' and 'Yeh Lo Main Hari Piya'. Theirs was to be an eventful partnership yielding eighteen classic solos. Her sensuousness made her a favourite for rock and roll and seductive songs- 'Banki Adayen' from Amanat, Aye Dil Mujhe Bata from Bhai Bhai and of course Mera Naam Chin Chin Choo from Howrah Bridge.

She sang for most actresses of her time from Geeta Bali to Waheeda Rehman but it was the former on whom Geeta's voice fit perfectly. The Geeta-S.D. team was a legendary one, dishing out hit after hit. Films like Do Bhai, Baazi, Munimji, Nau Do Gyarah and Sujata are just some examples.

By the late fifties, her marriage had run into rough weather and was on the rocks. Her life was fraught with personal problems and old faithfuls like O.P. and Burman were reluctant to work with her. Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam ('62) was an isolated success and her last film was Anubhav in '71.

Guru Dutt's liaison with Waheeda Rehman and Geeta's refusal to work in his pet project Gouri, along with his apparent refusal to let Geeta work on outside projects broke the marriage. To quieten things down Guru Dutt launched a film Gauri( 1957 ) with her in the lead. She was to be launched as a singing star and it was to be India's first film in cinemascope but the film was shelved after justa few days shooting. This was the time when one heard complaints from music directors about her not being easily available for either rehearsals or recordings. She neglected her riaz. And to make things worse both of them took to drinking heavily. Prior to their last attempt to reconcile, GuruDutt committed suicide on October 10, 1964.

And Geeta and he could never really get back together. It is said his death due to an overdose of sleeping tablets in his drink was an accident but the cause of death remains a mystery. Geeta was a broken woman, shattered by his death. She now had neither her singing or her husband. Lata's younger sister, Asha Bhonsle, had not only taken her place but had gone beyond her. Geeta suffered a nervous breakdown. When she recovered she found herself in a financial mess. She did try to resume singing again, cutting discs at Durga Puja and giving stage shows , even doing a Bengali film, Badhu Bharan ( 1967 ) as heroine! But her health kept failing as she drank herself to a point of no return. She died of cirrhosis of the liver on the 20th of July 1972 at the age of 41. But not before she showed she still had it in her were she given a mike to sing. The songs of Basu Bhattacharya's Anubhav ( 1971 ), 'Meri jaan mujhe jaan na kaho meri jaan', 'Koichupke se aake' and 'Mera dil jo mera hota' represent some of the finest work that Geeta Dutt ever did.

She sang everything from lullabies to folk tracks, exploring a gamut of emotions from subtle enticement to wistful longing. She reserved her best though for melancholic tracks like the incomparable Waqt Ne Kiya and Na Jao Saiyan , Her strength lay in bringing out the 'bhava' or emotion of the song admirably. It was this that set her voice apart.

From 1947 to '63 she sang over 2,000 songs in various languages rendering most hits under the baton of S.D.Burman and O.P.Nayyar. She is, of course, best remembered for Guru Dutt films from Baazi to Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam.

Best Of Geeta Dutt:

Song & Movie

'Babuji dhire chalna' Aar Paar

'Mera naan chin chin choo' China Town

'Jaane kya tunhe kahi' Pyaasa

'Ae dil mujhe bata de' Bhai Bhai

'Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam' Kaagaz ke Phool

'Na jaao saiyaan chudha ke baiyaan' Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam

'Tadbir se bigdi hui taqdeer' Baazi


Notable songs

Some memorable songs sung by Geeta under S.D. Burman are:

* 'Mera sundar sapna beet gaya' (Do Bhai - 1947 )

* 'Woh sapnewaali raat' (Pyaar - 1950 )

* 'Tadbir se bigdi hui taqdeer' (Baazi - 1951 )

* 'Aan milo aan milo' (Devdas - 1955 ) with Manna Dey

* 'Aaj sajan mohe ang lagalo' (Pyaasa - 1957 )

* 'Hawa dhire aana' (Sujata - 1959 )

* 'Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam ' (Kaagaz ke Phool - 1959 )

Some immortal gems sung by Geeta Dutt under O.P. Nayyar are:

* 'Zara saamne aa'( Baaz - 1953 )

* 'Babuji dhire chalna' (Aar Paar - 1954 )

* 'Thandi hawa kali ghata' (Mr. & Mrs 55 - 1955 )

* 'Jab badal lehraya' (Chchoomantar - 1956 )

* 'Mere zindagi ke humsafar' (Shrimati 420 - 1956 )

* 'Chor, lutere, daku'( Ustad - 1957 )

* 'Mera naan chin chin choo' (Howrah Bridge - 1958 )

* 'Kaisa jadoo balam tune dara' (12 o'clock - 1958 )

The first thing that strikes one when you hear Geeta Dutt sing was that she never sang. She just glided through a tune. Of all her contemporaries her musical training was perhaps the sketchiest but what she lacked in training and technique, she more than made up with her ability to breathe life and emotion into any song she was singing. To quote Raju Bharathan, Music Critic...

" Geeta Dutt was thandi hawa and kaali ghata rolled into one. The moment she came, you got the refreshing feeling of aa hi gayi jhoom ke. There was a rare swing in her voice. She hit you like a thunderclap..........This made Geeta Dutt the one singer that Lata Mangeshkar really feared. In training and technique Lata was way ahead but neither training nor technique was of much use when pitted against Geeta in the recording room........This put Lata on the defensive and I think she avoided singing with Geeta as far as possible. I vaguely remember Lata acknowledging this fact when Geeta died on July 20, 1972."

Geeta Roy was born in Faridpur District in East Bengal in 1930. In 1942 when she was just twelve her parents shifted to Mumbai. Over there in their modest flat at Dadar music director Hanuman Prasad heard her singing casually. He gave her two lines to sing in the film Bhakt Prahlad (1946). But her rendering of those two lines stood out and astonished everybody in the recording studio. A minor incident became the genesis of a great musical career.

Her major assignment came the following year, 1947, with Do Bhai. The music of that film clicked in a big way particularly Mera Sundar Sapna Beet Gaya and Geeta became a top playback singer. 1947-1949 saw Geeta Roy rule as the number one playback singer in the Mumbai film industry as she moved from strength to strength.



However three films released in 1949. Barsaat, Andaaz and Mahal. All three smashing hits. The music of each film better than the other. In all three films the heroine's songs were sung by a young lady who had also made her debut in playback singing in 1946 but till then had not made any significant headway in her career. The success of these films changed all that. The song 'Aayega aanewala' from Mahal soared to heights of till then unseen popularity. ( It remains an all time favourite even today ) The singer was ... Lata Mangeshkar. Lata went on to become the greatest playback singer the Indian screen has ever seen. Only two singers managed to survive the Lata onslaught in the 1950s. Shamshad Begam and Geeta Roy. Though relegated to the second spot, Geeta managed to hold her own against Lata for more than a decade and she and Lata were the premier two female playback singers of the 1950s.

Initially Geeta was a singer well known for bhajans and weepy, weepy sad songs. But 1951 saw the release of a film, Baazi. The jazzy musical score of the film by S.D. Burman revealed a new facet to Geeta's singing. The sex appeal in her voice and the ease with which she went western was marvelous to behold. While every song in the film was a raging hit, one stood out for special appeal - Tadbir se Bigdi hui Taqdeer. From then on in the 1950s for a club dance or a seductive song, the first choice was Geeta.

During the recording of the song she met the young and upcoming director of the film, Guru Dutt. Thus blossomed a romance, which culminated in marriage on 26 May, 1953. Geeta went on to sing some of her best songs in his films while continuing singing in various outside assignments as well. It was however a stormy marriage as the couple fought and made up repeatedly caused it is said by her suspicious and possessive nature.

S.D. Burman was among the earliest to discover the magic in her voice with Do Bhai. He effectively used the Bengali lilt in her voice memorably in films like Devdas (1955) and Pyaasa (1957). The song Aaj sajan mohe ang lagalo from the latter is one of the finest examples of the Bengali kirtan put over on the Hindi screen. In fact, no female singer has better articulated the spirit of Burmanda's music in its early years.

O.P. Nayyar developed the side of Geeta which had emerged with Baazi. Under his freewheeling baton Geeta developed into a really hep singer who could belt out any number - soft, sultry, happy, snappy, romantic, teasing or tragic. It was Geeta Dutt's rare gift that she could effervescently sing for both the doll and the moll. And it was O.P. who got Geeta to stop being overtly emotional in sad songs. O.P.'s comments on Geeta :

" ..........Who will deny there is a unique quality to her singing. Give her a blatantly westernized tune this momentand a complex classical composition the next, and she will do equal justice to both with an ease of expression which a singer can only be born with. She is particularly good for songs accompanying boisterous jamborees. With that tantalizing lilt and fascinating curves she puts into her singing,she is the ideal choice if it is seductive allure you want in a song........Geeta Dutt is an asset to any music director."

However by 1957 her marriage had run into rough weather and was on the rocks. Guru Dutt had fallen for his new leading lady Waheeda Rehman. The breaking up of her marriage also began having repercussions on her career. To quieten things down Guru Dutt launched a film Gauri (1957) with her in the lead. She was to be launched as a singing star and it was to be India's first film in cinemascope but the film was shelved after just a few days shooting. This was the time when one heard complaints from music directors about her not being easily available for either rehearsals or recordings.

In fact in 1957, when he fell out with Lata Mangeshkar, Burmanda was looking to make Geeta his main singer rather than the upcoming Asha Bhosle. After all by then Geeta was a mature singer while Asha was still raw. But due to her troubled marriage Geeta was not free to practice in the style required by S.D. Burman who was a hard taskmaster regarding rehearsals. He joined O.P. Nayyar in shaping Asha rather than wait for Geeta. Consequently Asha not only took her place but also went beyond her. And to make things worse, Geeta began finding solace in drinks.

On October 10, 1964 Guru Dutt passed away. Geeta was a broken woman, shattered by his death. She suffered a nervous breakdown. When she recovered she found herself in a financial mess. She did try to resume singing again, cutting discs at Durga Puja and giving stage shows and even doing a Bengali film, Badhu Bharan (1967) as heroine! But her health kept failing as she drank herself to a point of no return. She died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1972. But not before she showed she still had it in her were she given a mike to sing. The songs of Basu Bhattacharya's Anubhav (1971), Meri Jaan Mujhe Jaan na Kaho Meri Jaan, Koi Chupke se Aake and Mera Dil Jo Mera Hota represent some of the finest work that Geeta Dutt ever did.

Apart from Hindi songs, Geeta was a leading playback singer for Gujarati films singing for scores of films under the baton of music maestro Avinash Vyas. And in the period from the late 50s to the early 60s, Geeta Dutt returned to her roots so to say and sang some of the most sublime and well-known songs in Bengali Cinema during its golden period. Most of these were for Hemanta Mukherjee although she did some brilliant work for music directors Nochiketa Ghosh and Sudhin Dasgupta as well. Some well-known Geeta Dutt film songs in Bengali include Tumi Je Amar (Harano Sur (1957)), Nishi Raat Baanka Chand (Prithivi Amara Chhaye (1957)), Ogo Sundor Jano Naki (Indrani (1958)), Eyi Mayavi Tithi (Sonar Harin (1959)), Ei Sundar Swarnali Sandhya (Hospital (1960)) and Aami Sunchi Tomari Gaan (Swarilipi (1961)). She also sang several Bengali modern songs and cut discs at Durga Pooja as well.

Memorable Film Songs - Hindi

Mera Sundar Sapna Beet Gaya - Do Bhai (1947)

Aaja Bedardi Balma - Shaheed (1948)

Ghungat ke Pat Khol - Jogan (1950)

Mat Ja Jogi - Jogan (1950)

Tadbeer se Bigdi hui Taqdeer - Baazi (1951)

Aa Jaan-e-wafaa - Anarkali (1953)

Aayi Birha ki Raat - Navdurga (1953)

Ae Dil Ae Diwaane - Baaz (1953)

Babuji Dheere Chalna - Aar Paar (1954)

Yeh lo Main Hari Piya - Aar Paar (1954)

Na Yeh Chand Hoga - Shart (1954)

Thandi Hawa Kaali Ghata - Mr. and Mrs. 55 (1955)

Ae Dil Mujhe Batade - Bhai Bhai (1956)

Jaata Kahaan Hai Deewaane - C.I.D. (1956)

Hai Yeh Duniya Kaunsi - Sailaab (1956)

Aaj Sajan Mohe Ang Lagalo - Pyaasab(1957)

Jaane Kya Tune Kahi - Pyaasab (1957)

Seele Zubaan - Nau Do Gyarah (1957)

Do Chamakti Aankhon ne - Detective (1958)

Thehro Zarasi Der - Savera (1958)

Kaisa Jadoo Balam Tune Dara - 12 o'clock (1958)

Hawa Dheere Aana - Sujata (1959)

Waqt ne Kiya Kya Haseen Situm - Kaagaz ke Phool (1959)

Na Jao Saiyaan - Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam (1962)

Piya Aiso Jiya Main - Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam (1962)

Aaj ki Kaali Ghata - Uski Kahani (1966)

Koi Chupke se Aake - Anubhav (1971)

Meri Jaan Mujhe Jaan Na Kaho - Anubhav (1971)

Lat Uljhi Hai - Insaan Aur Insaan (1971)