- Birth Date: 23 Nov 1930
- Birth Place: Faridpur
'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.