Born On: November 23, 1930
Born In: Faridpur, Central Bengal (Today's Bangladesh)
Died On: July 20, 1972
Geeta Dutt, a name that always brings up melodious renditions from the past and conjures up an unforgettable magic of nostalgic good old times. Born in 1930 with a keen ear and a honeyed voice, it didn't take long for her parents to recognize her talent and love for singing and thus, arranged for her professional training under the music master Shri Harendranath Nandi. It was in 1942 that her family had to shift to Mumbai, and in four years' time she had hit the Hindi film industry with a melodic bang. Debuting with her playback singing for a mythological film Bhakta Prahlad, the music of which was given by Pandit Hanuman Prasad; she was soon given another break by none other than Sachin Dev Burman in his music album for the film "Do Bhai". Since then, it was no looking back for this ace singer as she continued to give hits after hits for many renowned music directors and became the only singer feared and revered by Lata Mangeshkar herself. It was in 1953 that she married the director/actor Guru Dutt, but in a few years' time her marriage and career started taking a downturn and after her husband passed away in 1964, things got worse as she succumbed to drinking and eventually died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1972. Many of the songs sung by her continue to remain classics till date and Geeta Dutt continues to be remembered as one of the finest singers Hindi film industry has ever had.
Daughter of Debendranath Ghosh Roy Chowdhary and Amiya Devi, Geeta Ghosh Roy Chowdhary (Geeta Dutt after marriage) was born on November 23, 1930 in a rich zamindar family and was one of the ten children. Admitted to a village school in the district, she hardly showed any interest in studies but was infectiously drawn towards the songs sung by the boatmen and loved to hum them all day long. Her parents recognized her melodious vocals and asked Shri Harendranath Nandi (a relative) to give her music lessons. But her music training couldn't continue for long as she had to shift to Mumbai along with her family in 1942. Due to financial deprivation, her family couldn't afford a music teacher. But not the one to give up easily, young Geeta she continued to practice and sing on her own and at the same time, continued her education in the Bengali High School of Bombay. It was pure destiny that Pandit Hanuman Prasad happened to be passing by her house when he heard her singing, enquired about her with the family, and offered her a chance to sing in the mythological film 'Bhakta Prahlad' (1946). History was made as the Hindi film industry got a new versatile playback singer in Geeta.
It was in the same year (1946) that Geeta sung for two more of Hanuman Prasad's albums 'Raseeli' and 'Nai Maa'. Her big break came in the year 1947 when Sachin Dev Burman heard her sing in 'Bhakta Prahlad', met her, and asked her to sing for his upcoming film 'Do Bhai'. Not only did he offer her to sing, he also made her the principal singer for the album with 6 songs (four solos and two duets); against the advice of many of his friends. The song "mera sundar sapna beet gaya" became an instant classic and the sale of the music album reached soaring heights. This marked the beginning of many more hits to come. Many other music directors like O.P. Nayyar, Anil Biswas, Hemant Kumar, Bulo C Rani, Khemchand Prakash, Vasant Prakash, Gyan Dutt, Ram Ganguly, Shaukat Hussain, Ghulam Haider etc used her voice for their films.
From 1947-1949, Geeta continued to grow in popularity and her versatility and ability to effortlessly shift from mythological song to a sad song to a seductive jazz track was well known among the film circle. Even when Lata Mangeshkar took the industry and fans by storm by giving her vocals to three back to back hit albums of 'Barsaat', 'Andaz', and 'Mahal'; Geeta managed to hold her own and the two along with Shamshad Begum, became the three leading playback singers of Hindi film industry. A 1951 film directed by the first time director Guru Dutt, the music of which became a rage with many runaway hits with one song that shone particularly "tadbir se bigdi hui taqdeer bana de" added all new dimensions of sensuousness and suavity to Geeta's singing capabilities. Dev Anand stated that it was this song that made people watch the film more than once. And it was because of this song that Geeta was offered many other tracks in the same genre of club/cabaret and she continued to excel in each of the tracks.
Later, though quite a few films she sang for bombed at the box office, but their music and her singing in the songs like "Dekho Jaadu Bhare Morey Naen", "Zara Saamne Aa", "Taare chandni afsaane" and many more are still among the soothing favorites among the fans. Along with singing for the Hindi film industry, Geeta continued to lend her voice Bengali songs at the same time. Primarily a singer, Geeta tried her luck in front of the camera as well, for a Bangla flick, Badhu Bharan in 1967 opposite Pradeep Kumar. After the death of her husband, Geeta got into drinking and during the last few years of her life her career took a downturn. But despite the tragedies in personal and professional life, songs from the movie 'Anubhav' (1971) clearly showed that she hadn't lost on any of her talent.
During the recordings for the songs of 1951 released film 'Baazi', Geeta met with the first time director Guru Dutt, who was also looking to establish himself in the industry. The two fell in love and tied the nuptial knot on May 26, 1953. The couple had two sons Tarun & Arun; and a daughter Nina. Geeta continued to sing in her husband's films and other assignments too; although some of her most famous tracks came with her husband's films. In 1957, their marriage stood amidst a tempest as Guru Dutt got involved with another woman from the industry, Waheeda Rehman, and started staying outside the house. Geeta went through major depression and started depending on alcohol for comfort. As a result, her career took a blow on account of her seldom being ready for the recording sessions, and things started moving downwards from thereon. Their marital solidity could never be the same again. On 10th October 1964, Guru Dutt died by combining alcohol and an overdose of sleeping pills. Geeta went through a nervous breakdown and when she recovered, she found herself in a financial crisis. She tried to stand on her feet again by recording for durga pujas and performing stage shows but her health kept deteriorating.
Unwillingness to let go off the alcohol had caused irreparable damage leading to cirrhosis of the liver. It was one week before her death that she called in the studios and notified that she won't be able to come for the recordings as she wasn't feeling well. It was the same week when she got hospitalized and a week later on 20th July 1972, she died of cirrhosis in Mumbai.
1930: Geeta Ghosh Roy Chowdhary was born.
1942: Moved to Mumbai with her family.
1946: Made a debut as playback singer for a mythological film 'Bhakta Prahlad'.
1947: Major breakthrough came with the film 'Do Bhai', the music of which was given by Sachin Dev Burman.
1951: Achieved a new high for her playback singing for the movie 'Baazi' and was declared as one of the most versatile singers in the industry.
1953: Married her love Guru Dutt.
1964: Guru Dutt died.
1967: Did a Bengali film called Badhu Bharan.
1971: Her last stint as a playback singer in Hindi films paid off well with the hit songs of the film 'Anubhav'.
1972: Died of cirrhosis of liver in Mumbai's Harkisandas Hospital.