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Music is one of the great unifiers – and dividers. It appeals to something so deep within us that it is difficult to rationalize and understand the why of a choice. It is as personal a choice that people make as any.

For as long as I can recollect, I have been an avid fan of the late great Geeta Dutt. Don’t get me wrong, I love listening to Lata (esp to the music of Madan Mohan or RDB), there are Asha Bhosle songs I can hear again and again, a few memorable songs from the likes of Aarti Mukherjee, Noor Jehan, Mubarak Begum, Shreya Ghoshal and even Alka Yagnik. But with the possible honorable exception of Kishore Kumar, there is no other singer in any language or style I would rather listen to than the former Miss Geeta Roy.

Whether it be her solos or her duets, her great tragic songs and her scintillating ones in a lighter vein, whether she was singing for SD Burman, Madan Mohan, OP Nayyar or Kanu Roy, there is a magic and a pathos in her singing that is unmatched.

She had her first great hit at the tender age of 17 singing “Mera Sundar Sapna Beet Gaya” for SD Burman in “Do Bhai” (1947). It is a tribute to both the music director and the singer that nearly 60 years thereafter the song still stands out as one of the all-time great tragic songs of Indian cinema. In a sense Geeta Dutt got typecast as the singing version of Meena Kumari, as a tragedienne supreme, and why not – only one singer in the history of Hindi cinema could have done justice to songs like “Waqt Ne Kiya, Kya Haseen Sitam” or “Jaane Kya Tune Kahi” and SDB knew it all along!

Yet, it is her lighter vein tunes that are as memorable – and probably greater in number and diversity. The great duets with Mohd Rafi in particular – ranging from “Jaane Kahan Jigar Gaya Ji” to “Udhar Tum Haseen Hon, Idhar Dil Jawaan Hai” and the great pseudo-duet “Aankhon Hi Aankhon Mein Ishara Ho Gaya” (where Rafi sings only the initial two lines of the mukhda and the rest of the song is all Geeta – wonderful juxtaposition of two gifted voices by OP Nayyar!) stand out. And of course the song that is for me is perhaps the pre-eminent romantic song in Hindi cinema, the unmatched “Hum Aap Ki Aankhon Mein” from Pyaasa.

One can never forget the lilting Madan Mohan number, “Ae Dil Mujhe Bata De”, or that quintessential lullaby “…Nanhi Kali Sone Chali, Hawa Dheere Aana” which has probably been sung by more Hindi-film music loving Indian moms (and Dads!) than any other.

Geeta made the monsoons come alive with “Rim Jhim Ke Taraane”, cool summer nights with “Thandi Hawa Kali Ghata…”, sang one of THE original item numbers with “Mera Naam Chin Chin Choo”, the soothing “Chale Hum Kahan..” with Hemant Kumar, and that wonderful song from Detective “Do Chamakti Aankhon Mein”…

She died shockingly early in 1972. However, her swan song was one for the ages, matched only about 20+ years later by RD Burman’s exit with “1942 – A Love Story”. The songs for the Basu Bhattacharyya’s Sanjeev-Tanuja starrer “Anubhav” had been scored by the relatively unsung great Music Director Kanu Roy – and one cannot imagine any other singer even attempting to sing and do any justice to “Meri Jaan Mujhe Jaa Na Kaho…”, “Mera Dil Jo Mera Hota…” or “Koi Chupke Se Aake” from Anubhav.

My Top-10 Geeta Dutt songs are:

1. “Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam”
2. “Hum Aap Ki Aankhon Mein” with Rafi
3. “Meri Jaan Mujhe Jaa Na Kaho”
4. “Hawa Dheere Aana”
5. “Thandi Hawaaon Mein” with Talat
6. “Tum Jo Huey Mere Humsafar” with Rafi
7. “Mujhko Tum Jo Mile” with Hemant Kumar
8. “Koi Chupke Se Aake”
9. “Yeh Lo Main Haari Piya”
10. “Jaane Kya Tune Kahi”

Very very honorable mention – “Aankh Milane Ke Liye”!

Geeta Dutt came in with the advent of the golden age of Hindi film music – and with her passing away in 1972, the era came to an end. Her music lives on, a reminder of a bygone era and a troubled soul who still rose above her personal tragedy to regale and entertain generations to come.

….comments…

Anonymous said…
Geeta Dutt did some ad jingles too, do you’ve them or any knowledge about it?
I also want to know about her stage shows, which she did in her later years for survival!

12:47 AM

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Buck said…
I have always tried to block out the personal tragedy that Geeta Dutt lived through and focus on her music – but I guess it is difficult to separate the two!I have read that Geeta did some jingles for some soaps (Hamaam and Rexona, I believe) – with the music by Salil Chowdhury so they must have been pretty good. However, I have no personal recollection of those jingles.

Re stage shows, I have heard she used to perform at Durga Puja events and do other stage shows in the tail end of her short life…sometimes I wish Anubhav had been made about 5-6 years earlier and it might have given her the new lease on life post-Guru Dutt.

11:39 AM

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