(Last Updated on : 24/06/2013)
Geeta Dutt was born into a rich Zamindar's family as Geeta Ghosh Roy Chowdhuri in Faridpur, East Bengal in 1930. In 1942, her parents shifted to a Dadar apartment in Mumbai
when she was twelve. Over there in their modest flat at Dadar, composer/music director Hanuman Prasad overheard her singing casually and agreed to impart her training in singing. He launched her in a chorus song in Bhakht Prahlad (1946), where she sang only two lines. But her rendering of those two lines stood out and astonished everybody in the recording studio. Her major assignment was in the following year with Do Bhai. The music of that film clicked in a big way and Geeta became a top playback singer. 1947 - 1949 saw Geeta as the number one playback singer in the Bollywood film industry as she moved from strength to strength. Only two playback singers managed to survive Lata's onslaught in the 1950s. They were Shamshad Begum
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 Mangeshkar
became the premier female playback singers of the 1950s.
Initially, Geeta was a singer well known for singing Bhajans and weepy, sad songs, but 1951 saw the release of Baazi. The jazzy musical score of the film by SD Burman created a new facet in Geeta's singing. The sex appeal in her voice and the ease with which she went western was marvellous to behold. From then on in the 1950s for a club dance and a seductive song, was the first choice was Geeta. During the recording of a song, she met the young and upcoming director of the film, Guru Dutt. Thus blossomed a romance and they became engaged. They had to overcome a lot of family opposition to marry. They married on 26 May 1953 and had three children. They were Tarun (b. 1954), Arun (b. 1956), and Nina Dutt (b. 1962). Geeta went on to sing some of her best songs in his films while continuing to sing in various outside assignments as well.
S.D. Burman was amongst 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).In fact, no female singer has better articulated the spirit of Burmanda's music in its early years had 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 O.P. who got Geeta to stop being overly emotional in sad songs. However by 1957, Geeta's marriage had run through rough weather and was on the rocks. Guru Dutt had gotten romantically involved with his new leading lady Waheeda Rehman
. The breaking up of her marriage also began giving 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 of shooting. This was the time when one heard complaints from music directors about her not being easily available for rehearsals and 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 Geeta was a mature singer while Asha was still raw. But due to her troubled marriage, Geeta was not able to practice in the style required by 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 went beyond her. And to make things worse, Geeta began finding solace in drinking.
In 1964, Guru Dutt
, died. Geeta was a heart broken woman, shattered by his death. She suffered from a nervous breakdown. When she recovered, she found herself in a financial mess. She tried to resume singing again, cutting discs at Durga Puja
and giving stage shows and even doing a Bengali film Bhadu Bharan (1967) as heroine. But her health kept failing as she drank to a point of no return. But not before she showed she still had it in her were she given a mike to sing. Anubhav (1971) was her last film and was one of the finest works she ever did. But her drinking problems were not over and she died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1972 at the age of 41.