New Delhi: “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,” said music critic Raju Bharathan.
Geeta Dutt’s melodious voice enthralled many in the 1940s and 1950s, but a career that began with a meteoric rise to fame ended in tragic death.
Born into a zamindar family in what is now Bangladesh on 23 November 1930, Geeta Ghosh Roy Chowdhuri was always inclined to music. Recognising her talent, her family arranged for her to learn music. Even after the family moved to Bombay in 1942, she didn’t give up on music and continued to practice on her own.
Music composer and director K. Hanuman Prasad overheard Geeta singing in her home in Dadar as he was passing by. Impressed by her voice, Prasad gave her chance to sing in the movie Bhakt Prahlad (1946). Later that year, she sang for two more of Prasad’s films — Raseeli and Nayi Maa.
S.D. Burman, who had heard her sing in Bhakt Prahlad, signed her to sing for his film Do Bhai (1947). The song Mera Sundar Sapna Beet Gaya was an instant hit.
Thus began her momentous career in Hindi cinema.
She married actor-director Guru Dutt in 1953, having met him while working on his film Baazi. But the marriage soon hit rocky ground, with reports claiming that Guru Dutt asked Geeta Dutt to sing in his movies only. A few years later, he got romantically involved with actor Waheeda Rehman, and this, it is said, pushed Geeta Dutt down a spiral of alcohol. She died of liver cirrhosis in 1972.
On her 89th birth anniversary, ThePrint looks back at some of Geeta Dutt’s iconic songs:
Babuji Dheere Chalna (Aar Paar, 1954)
The O.P. Nayyar composition is a catchy cabaret number and has stayed a favourite across generations.
Waqt Ne Kiya Hasin Sitam (Kaagaz Ke Phool, 1959)
Recorded at a time when her marriage had started to sour, this song was a bittersweet one for Geeta Dutt, given the film starred Waheeda Rahman and Guru Dutt.
Mera Naam Chin Chin Choo (Howrah Bridge, 1958)
The song became a rage when it was released and is considered among the best of Geeta Dutt’s work. The video features Helen as a dancer from Shanghai, and was a major hit.
Na Jao Saiyaan Chhuda ke Baiyaan (Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, 1962)
The song captures a wife’s complaint towards her wayward husband.
Yeh hai Bombay Meri Jaan (CID, 1956)
Although the video features Johnny Walker and Kumkum, this song’s lead star is the city of dreams, with all its quirks, charms and flaws.