We are extremely grateful to our friend and mentor Dr Jyoti Prakash Guha ji. Most of the information in this article and the rarest of the rare pics of Geeta ji are contributed by him. This article could not have been put together without his support and suggestions. Million thanks Guha ji.
Geeta Dutt In Badhu Baran
Geeta Dutt (nee Roy) is a beautiful and charming playback singer who tried her hand at acting (a fact not known to many). Her husband Guru Dutt was an ace film-maker and director and wanted to cast his wife in films. How many films one would expect from such a combination? At least a handful of them, if not a few dozens! Yet, a film that got scrapped after shooting a few reels, a guest appearance lasting a few seconds in another film and a third film with a full fledged role at the fag end of her career that did not do well! This is the unfortunate summary of Geeta's career as an actress.
It is a known fact that Guru Dutt, as a director, was way ahead of his peers. His thought process was always that of a visionary. The year was 1957 and Guru Dutt wanted to introduce the concept of "Cinemascope" to Hindi film world for the first time. Some unconfirmed sources mention that the personal relations between the couple had got strained to certain extent due to some personal reasons. Guru Dutt wanted to make amends with his wife Geeta and had decided to launch her as a singing star in a bi-lingual (Bengali and Hindi) film titled Gouri. This film was supposed to be shot in the new cinemascope technology. It is said that a lot of expensive equipments were ordered from abroad and the shooting began with a great deal of expectations from Geeta.
Apart from being a visionary film-maker, Guru Dutt was a perfectionist to the level of being whimsical at times. The shooting of Gouri began and a few reels were shot (which are not traceable now). Based on the available information, at least one song sung and acted by Geeta was recorded. To much dismay of Geeta, Guru decided to scrap the film as he was not happy with the script. Though this was not a new thing for Guru Dutt, it was a case of shattered dreams for Geeta who had pinned her hopes on this film. The words "Mera sundar sapna beet gaya" sung by her almost ten years ago had become true.
Geeta Dutt In Gauri
Since the film was supposed to be a musical (just like other Guru Dutt films), it is said that two songs were recorded for the film but were never released on discs. Nobody is sure about the music director of the film but based on the information from some unconfirmed resources, it was the legendary S D Burman (whom Geeta used to call "Kaka" (Uncle) with affection). Geeta Dutt is reported to have recorded a song "BANSHI SHUNE AAR KAJ NAI SE JE DAKATIA BANSHI" for the film Gauri. The record version was probably never published. This is confirmed from 1958 Bengali magazine article by Colin Paul. Later S.D. Burman himself recorded the song in his own voice at around 1960/1961 and it was a hit. The song has lyrics by Gouri Prasanna Majumdar and music by S D Burman himself. The same tune was later used for Shakti Samanta’s film Anuraag (1972) where Lata Mangeshkar sang the song "Neend Churaye Chain Churaye Daka Daale Teri Bansi" for Moushumi Chatterjee making her debut in Hindi films. The film Gauri got shelved and the original tunes were probably never heard by any one. The shelving of the film Gauri had a severe impact on Geeta as a person. A truly spirited woman she was, she continued to sing memorable songs as if nothing had happened, but for sure she was hurt deep inside in her heart.
Come year 1960 and Dev Anand had a scene in his film titled Kaala Baazar where the premier of the film "Mother India" takes place. Dev was playing the role of a person who sells the film tickets in black (hence the title "Kaala Baazar"). Geeta was already associated with the film as a singer (though she intentionally chose not to sing for the lead actress Waheeda Rehman whose songs were sung by Asha Bhonsle). Dev wanted many film personalities to make a friendly guest appearance for the premier scene. Guru Dutt and Geeta Dutt obliged with an old friend and in this scene we can see the couple getting off the car and entering the venue of the premier in a smiling manner. Guru Dutt is facing the camera and one has to really look hard to catch a glimpse of Geeta Dutt in this scene. The gentle yet pleasing smile on her face looks so radiant in that five seconds clip.
Guru Dutt had also made an attempt to launch Geeta in a Bengali film titled "Abhaya o Srikanta". The film was supposed to be made based on a novel by legendary Saratchandra Chatterjee. Director Haridas Bhattacharjee is reported to have said that Guru was quite insistent in having Geeta as the heroine for this film. However, Haridas was probably not quite impressed with Geeta Dutt as an actress (he was shown some clips of the shelved film Gauri) because the clips shown were for a song and possibly did not indicate her acting abilities. Ultimately Mala Sinha was chosen to do the role in the film "Abhaya o Srikanta" which was released in the year 1965. It had music by Rahul Dev Burman and had songs sung by Shyamal Mitra, Arati Mukherjee and Hemanta Mukherjee (Hemant Kumar).
A clip from Badhu Baran
After Guru Dutt's untimely death in the year 1964, Geeta Dutt suffered a lot of financial, health related and personal problems. She was practically left with no money (being made insolvent from Guru Dutt Films due to the debacle of the film "Sailaab" earlier) and three children to support. The days of her career as a leading playback singer were over and she was not getting much of singing assignments. Between the year 1964 and 1967, she sang less than a couple of dozen songs, mostly in obscure and/or low budget films. Going by the rule of the film industry, one and all had deserted her. Even those people whom she had helped building their careers had conveniently forgotten her. The composers for whom she sang several hit songs turned back towards her. She was forced to do stage shows and radio jingles and even those were not a great success. It was a sad story to see a top playback singer being treated like this by the film and music fraternity.
Geeta was a woman of strong character and survived this with great will and determination, though it took her some time to recover from the shock of the demise of her husband. It is reported that she decided to venture into other areas of films and music. She was to compose the music for a film under the moniker "Pyaasi" and it is said that she even recorded a song in her own voice. We do not have any information if any records of songs she composed were released or not. This was the time, when she decided to try her hand at acting one more time, this time in her mother tongue Bengali.
Cover of Badhu Baran's Booklet
Geeta Dutt got a role in a Bengali film titled Badhu Baran in the year 1967. The film was direceted by Dilip Naag. The film introduced Rakhee (who later became Rakhee Gulzar and went on to become a popular actress in Hindi films) to the film world. The film was made by D.S. Productions and was released at Rupabani, Bharati and Aruna theaters in Kolkata. The story, the screenplay and the lyrics of the film were by Shyamal Gupta. Tne cinematographer of the film was Soumendu Roy. The film’s art direction was done by Satyen Roy Choudhury. The film was edited by Haridas Mahalanbis and Harinarayan Mukherjee. The film was distributed by Chandimata Films Pvt. Ltd.
The film had an impressive star cast in Pradeep Kumar paired with Geeta Dutt. The film also starred Ajoy Biswas, Rakhi Biswas, Bikash Roy, Jahar Ray, Geetali Ray, Jibe Bose, N. Viswanathan, Gita Dey, Amar Ganguly, Abhi Bhattacharya, Bharati Devi etc. Based on the available information, the film did not do to well at the box office. A good amount of interest was among the music and film lovers who watched this film to see their favorite singer Geeta Roy acting in a film. The film ran for about 5 or 6 weeks or so in Kolkata.
Elegant Geeta ji in Badhu Baran
Here is a short synopsis of the film Badhu Baran (1967) from the booklet of the film. The story-line seems to be interesting but no hint is given as to what is the end. It is not clear which role was played by Geeta Dutt, but most likely she played the role of Jayanti and Rakhi played the role of Saswati.
Saswati Roy is again the champion in an inter college swimming competition but she is disappointed not to see her father Nirmalendu present there to share the moment with her. Actually Saswati's mother Jayanti has taken ill and hospitalized and Nirmalendu is with her in the nursing home. Saswati is taken to the nursing home by Shubhendu Choudhury, an employee of Saswati's father Nirmalendu. Shubhendu comes from a good and wealthy family and has completed his M.A. examination and is working in Saswati’s father office only while waiting for his results to come out. With time he comes to love Saswati and his feelings are reciprocated. Shubhendu's results are out and he does well and his mother Sarama comes to see Saswati and willingly gives her consent for the marriage. Shubhendu's father then appears on the scene and he is totally against the marriage. Saswati's mother Jayanti hides herself from Shubhendu's father. Why ? Who is Amitabh Roy ? Who is Anukul Choudhury ? What is bigger ? Friendship or sacrifice ? All answers on the screen....
There were a total of four songs in the film BADHUBARAN (1967). The first song was a chorus song led by Feroza Begum, Arati Mukherjee and Arun Datta. The second one was a duet by Arati Mukherjee and Shyamal Mitra. Third song was Geeta Dutt’s song and the last one was by Manna Dey. The song by Geeta Dutt and the one by Manna Dey appeared on each side of the same 78 RPM record.
The music of the film was composed by the legendary and brilliant composer Kamal Dasgupta and had songs sung by leading Bengali singers Manna Dey , Feroza Begum, Shyamal Mitra, Arati Mukherjee , Arun Datta and of course Geeta Dutt herself. It is a pity that the composer chose to have Geeta sing just one song for this film. The song she sang is "Amar alor o shishu o andhar ja" and was released on record number N 77083. This turned out to be Geeta Dutt’s last recording in a Bengali film (she did sing some non-film Bengali songs till 1971 though).
Lyric of Geeta Dutt song :
Amra alor shishu
O andhar ja chole ja chole ja chole ja
Mother sure sure sur miliye
O pakhi gaan ga gaan ga
Amra alor shishu-
Nadir dheuer tale tali diye
Mora niche berai phuler hashi niye
Misti bhalobasay mother tane
Tane tai je matir ma
O andhar ja chole ja
Amra alor shishu
Amader chhotto buke ghumiye thake
Anek baro asha
Tara natun diner ghum bhangiya
Swapna ke dey bhasha
Dustu mother chokher chaoya niye
Ore o aksh cha
O andhar ja chole ja amra alor shishu.
This film's music was also the last work of composer Kamal Dasgupta in India. He migrated to Bangladesh after this film and breathed his last in the year 1974 in Dhaka.
After the lukewarm response to the film Badhubaran at the box office, it seems like Geeta did not get any opportunities to act in films. Four years later she was back to her first love of singing with all the three songs from the film Anubhav (1971) becoming popular. It turned out to be the last bright flicker of the lamp as she left for the heavenly abode on 20th July 1972.
One can say that just like the dreams of happiness and leading a cheerful life of Geeta Dutt shattered, the dream of becoming an actress as well went into oblivion and then the “Bedard zamaana jeet gaya”.