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(1930 - 1972)

Bengali Film songs

e jeebon-e jotoe tuku cheyechhi, mon boley aaro beshi peyechhi... /
Whatever I might have wanted from life, my heart knows that I have been given so much more...

How many songs do we know of that speak of such quiet and thankful contentment? The picture of bliss and happiness after a trial of sorrow is lovingly portrayed by Geeta Dutt in nishiraat baankaa chaand, it is the one song of her Bengali repertoire which is admired and played lovingly even today and has to be included in every compilation of old Bangla film songs. Indeed, there hasn't been any other song which can invoke the same emotions as Geeta Dutt's ethereal voice does with this one song. This song manages to blend joy and sadness at the same time, maybe that is what endears it to us so much. Even though Geeta Dutt's popularity in the Bengali music industry is epitomised by the popularity of this piece from the film Prithibi Aamaare Chaay (1957), set to tune by Nachiketa Ghosh, her output in her mother tongue is actually characterised by a bevy of lovely and heart-achingly melodious numbers; aided by rich lyrics and sterling melody, these songs found their niche in the hearts of listeners and are treasured after all these years.

Let's start our exploration of Geeta Dutt's popular Bengali film songs with 1957 when nishiraat baankaa chaand came out. In Prithibi Aamaare Chaay, she voiced another classic, tumi binaa e phaaguno biphole jaay, a sad and haunting melody which speaks of the pain of separation from the beloved; she laments her sadness and longing as the month of Phalgun passes away in vain. At the other side of the spectrum is tumi je aamaar from Harano Shur set to score by Hemanta Mukherjee. The poignant plea to the lover to let her know that he is hers alone and that he is everything to her is beautifully emoted by Geeta Dutt's voice.

Going back a year, she had already sung two songs for Mahakobi Girishchandra (1956) scored by Anil Bagchi, based on the life of Girishchandra Ghosh, the noted Bengali playwright and poet. As befitting the style of the period in which the movie was set, aakulo basante aaji and suraay doobey thaakle porey are two very melodious pieces, semi-religious in tone and with philosophical lyrics.

For Geeta Dutt fans 1958 is an extraordinarily enriching year. The most songs come from Indrani composed by Nachiketa Ghosh. jhanak jhanak kanak kaankon baaje is a sweet song about the blooming of love. Ogo shundoro jaano naaki is another sweet romantic song. In dur-er tumi aaj kaachher tumi holey, she weaves magic with the swinging notes and this song epitomises the romantic aspect of Geeta Dutt's voice. This movie also boasts of the very beautiful and meaningful duet neerh chhoto khoti nei, where Hemanta and Geeta lovingly sing how even if the nest is tiny, the entire sky is theirs to explore. shurjo dobaar paala in Hemanta Mukherjee's voice and a less known treasure in Mohammad Rafi's voice sabhi kuchh lutaa kar, huye hum tumhaare are also extremely melodious and amazingly lovely pieces. Overall, listening to the soundtrack of Indrani is a treat.

In Hemanta Mukherjee's compositions for Shaathihara, she gave voice to a pining Mala Sinha in baanshi bujhi shei shurey aar daakbey naa, a minimalistic but strangely foot-tapping composition, given the context. aaynaa boshaa churigulo is a happy song and speaks of the heroine's happiness and how her smiles are reflected in the tiny mirrors set in her bangles. Her duet with Hemanta Mukherjee kaajol kaajol chokhe is a sweet bantering conversation between the two and absolutely captures the naughty nature of the character she is meant to vocalise. Another duet with Hemanta jadubhara oi bnaashi baajaale keno relies on the been for a different sound and the melody was used by Hemanta in saara moraa kajraa chhuraayaa toone for Arati Mukherjee and Mohammad Rafi for Do Dil in 1965.

She sang another Hemanta Mukherjee composition for Joutuk, a happy song about nature and her boundless beauty resonating with the happiness that she feels in her heart.

kaancher churir chhota composed by Sudhin Dasgupta for Daak Horkora is a different composition in terms of the melodic content; there is a folkish feel to the melody as well as the background music. This gives a different touch to her voice, not as polished and sophisticated as the some of the songs we have discussed before, in fact there is a brashness to the song that is immediately apparent, but another proof of the versatility of Geeta Dutt's voice.

We also get to hear a snippet of her voice in the Kishore Kumar starrer Lukochuri, again composed by Hemanta Mukherjee. While Kishore Kumar's shing nei tobu naam taar shingho remains a perennial favourite because of Kishore's vocal dexterity, Geeta Dutt and Kishore Kumar had a very sweet duet in movie called shudhu ektukhaani chaaoaa aar ektukhaani paaoaa.

In 1959, we get the first-ever glimpse of her famous 'club-song' voice for Bangla songs. Hemanta Mukherjee composed ei mayabi tithi ei modhur geeti for Shonar Horin. The words speak about a magical night overflowing with music, while Geeta Dutt lends the song her special flair and panache.

The next year she sang two songs for Hospital scored by Amal Mukherjee. ghum majhi oi haal dhorechhey is a sweet and sad lullaby, the imagery is particularly lovely comparing sleep to a boatman who would row little Khoka's mayurpankhi to the kingdom of sleep. The song is filled with fairy tale imagery common to Bengali kids and speaks of the sadness of the neglected Duoraani whose only comfort is her little prince. The other song from this movie is the amazingly lovely and romantic ei shundor swarnaali shondhyay and she asks her lover about the unknown bond that binds her to him, the unknown melody that fills her heart and the dreams that are now part of her.

In 1961, Geeta Dutt again sang for Hemanta Mukherjee in Modhyoraater Taara; she sang tomaar etoe bhaalobaashaa, a bubbly piece, where in places the listener can almost see her pout. The other songs came for Swaralipi. ke daake aamaay is a soft romantic piece; in shey toh bolechhilo aamaar jiboney she asks after her lover who has gone back on a promise and hasn't come when he had promised he would. aami shunechhi tomaari gaan is a complaint against a deaf God who, in spite of all the prayers and music around Him, chooses not to hear.

Geeta Dutt’s Bengali songs, even though definitely not as numerous as her Hindi output, are definitely worth a listen because in this case, she avoided being typecast and sang a variety of songs, rich in melodic content and meaningful lyrics, and what ultimately remains a less explored but extremely fulfilling body of work.
Bengali Film Songs
Year Song Co-Singer Movie Music Lyrics
1950 Shundari Lo Shundar Kishore Kumar Samar - Sachin Dev Burman
1957 Nishiraat Banka Chand Aakashe - Prithibi Aamare Chaay Nachiketa Ghosh Pranab Roy
1957 Tumi Binaa E Phaguno - Prithibi Aamare Chaay Nachiketa Ghosh Pronab Roy
1957 Tumi Je Aamar - Harano Shur Hemanta Mukherjee Gouriprasanna Mjaumdar
1958 Aakul Boshonte Aaji - Mohakobi Girishchandra Anil Bagchi Shyamal Gupta
1958 Shuray Dube Thakle Pore - Mohakobi Girishchandra Anil Bagchi Shyamal Gupta
1958 Jhonok Jhonok Konok Kankon Baaje - Indrani Nachiketa Ghosh Gouriprasanna Majumdar
1958 Kancher Churir Chhotay - Daak Horkora Sudhin Dasgupta Tarashankar Banerjee
1958 Ogo Shundoro - Indrani Nachiketa Ghosh Gouriprasanaa Majumdar
1958 Durer Tumi Aaj - Indrani Nachiketa Ghosh Gouriprasanna Mjaumdar
1958 Neer Chhoto Khoti Nei Hemanta Mukherjee Indrani Nachiketa Ghosh Gouriprasanna Mjaumdar
1958 Banshi Bujhi Shei Shure - Shathihara Hemanta Mukherjee Gouriprasanna Mjaumdar
1958 Shudhu Ektukhani Chaoa Kishore Kumar Lukochuri Hemanta Mukherjee Gouriprasanna Mjaumdar
1958 Aha Rong Dhorechhe Phoole Phoole - Joutuk Hemanta Mukherjee Gouriprasanna Mjaumdar
1959 Ei Mayabi Tithi - Shonar Horin Hemanta Mukherjee Gouriprasanna Majumdar
1960 Ei Shundor Shornali Shondhyay - Hospital Amal Mukherjee Gouriprasanna Majumdar
1960 Ghum Majhi Oi Haal Dhorechhe - Hospital Hemanta Mukherjee Gouriprasanna Mjaumdar
1961 Aayna Bosha Churiguli - Shathihara Hemanta Mukherjee Gouriprasanna Mjaumdar
1961 Ke Daake Aamay - Swaralipi Hemanta Mukherjee Gouriprasanna Majumdar
1961 Tomar Eto Bhalobasha - Modhyorater Tara Hemanta Mukherjee Gouriprasanna Majumdar
1961 Aami Shunechhi Tomari Gaan - Swaralipi Hemanta Mukherjee Gouriprasanna Majumdar
1961 Ki Jadu Jaane Manna Dey Panka Tilak Sudhin Dasgupta -
- Ei Raat Holo Kato Sundar Aaj - - - -
1961 Jaadu Bhara Oyi Banshi Hemanta Mukherjee Sathihara Hemanta Mukherjee Gouriprasanna Mjaumdar
1961 Kajol Kajol Chokhe Hemanta Mukherjee Sathihara Hemanta Mukherjee Gouriprasanna Mjaumdar
- Se Toh Bolechhilo - - - -
- Aay Re Chhute Aay - - - -
Bengali Non-Film songs

The majority of Geeta Dutt’s songs for Bengali films were with Hemanta Mukherjee. She also has a significant repertoire of non-film songs in Bangla, many of which were with composers Kanu Ghosh and Sudhin Chakraborty. We will look at these so-called adhunik songs now, taking up each composer in turn.

Geeta Dutt’s most songs in Bangla are with Kanu Ghosh, about a dozen in total. She explored a variety of themes and styles in the songs that she recorded with him. Padma aamaar kohe kende kende was penned by Kanu Ghosh himself and has a folk-based melody; the river Padma laments the loss of her old familiars, the fishermen, the shepherd boys, the village women who used to live by her side. The song is reminiscent of the river songs popular all over Bengal. Tomaay dekhechhi tandrabiheen raater taaraay is a romantic song taht starts out with long drawn-out notes followed by a sudden unexpected picking up of pace; the overall effect is a very pleasant listening experience. Aakashjure shopnomaya is a fast-paced number and almost reminiscent of Salil Chowdhury in its treatment. Tomaar aashaay path cheye go is a quiet one and speaks of a devotion and submission which Geeta Dutt manages to put across very convincingly. She sings ‘je kokhono haaraay ni mon, bujhbe naa toe shey/ keno aamaar e din gonaa, tumi aamaar ke’(Those who have never lost their hearts would never know why I count the days as they go by and who you are to me) with a sadness and conviction that is very poignant. On the other hand, kobe kon taara jwala raater chhayaay, another romantic piece, because of the westernized score and Geeta Dutt’s treatment of it, sounds absolutely different and fresh. She infuses ogo aamaar moner chiro aanmona with playfulness and energy that makes this piece a great listening experience. On the other hand, kathaa aachhey aaj tumi aashbey, even though a song of hope and anticipation, manages to sound sad and insecure; in fact, it is this exploration and contrast between the theme and execution of the songs in question that makes these songs more interesting to listen to. The most famous song that Geeta Dutt sang for Kanu Ghosh has to be oi shur bharaa dur nilimaay, a melodious and happy celebration of love. Her stress on the starting ‘oi’ for the first sentence is a treat to listen to. aayre chhutey kaastey haate is a fast-paced song about reaping the golden grain, a song of farmers and their life, their devotion to the land and the joy that they take in the waving fields of paddy. Salil Chaudhury penned two songs which were scored by Kanu Ghosh and sung by Geeta Dutt. Jaak naa muchhe jaak has conventional lyrics about memories and nostalgia but the more interesting of the two is shonaay dheke ongo which shows Salil’s ironic pen. It is a comment on the ephemeral nature of wealth and materialism. With a play on words, Salil says how it is more important to listen to good words than wear gold on the ear, both words being shonaa in Bengali.

Geeta Dutt’s songs with Sudhin Dasgupta are all immensely popular and the melodic content is experimental in nature. Otho otho Maa Gouri treats a subject very close to the hearts of all Bengalis, that of the daughter (Gouri/Durga) going back to her husband’s home. The theme is the subject of innumerable folk songs and in this song too, the anxiety of Menaka is conveyed. ekTu chaoaa aar ekTu paaoaa is a haunting melody and Geeta puts across a feeling of nostalgia and sadness without any effort.The rest of the songs have an overwhelming focus on nature and draw similes based on nature. In kajol kajol kumkum, autumn is being described but the melody line of the song is definitely unconventional. Jhiri jhiri chaitali baataashe is a lovely romantic number, rhythmic and modern in feel. Krishnachura aagun tumi is a paean to spring using the Krishnachura flower as a representative. Phooler boney laaglo je dol again describes her joy and draws a parallel with a garden and its beauties.

With Binod Chatterjee, she recorded four songs, of which hridoy aamaar kichhu jodi boley is a lovely piece of melody, not too distinguished by lyrics, but carried through because of the strength of the tune. Shudhu ekbaar boley boley is meant to be a song of sadness and separation, but the melody is strangely upbeat, so it is up to the listener to decide whether they like it or not. She sings of the sorrows and sad memories of love in jaanite cheyechho tumi and on a similar vein, in maatir bhubone jodi she gives voice to the desire to come back to the earth and give back and receive the love that she was forbidden this time, to sing the songs that she couldn’t sing this time around. This song, with minimal accompaniment, is quite arresting in spite of its simplicity.

Geeta Dutt had sung a few Hindi songs for Mukul Roy and she also sang four songs for him in Bangla. In ek khaani dustar lojja, she gives voice to the embarrassment that the young girl feels when she suddenly realizes that she is a grown woman and feels the first stirrings of love. Sachi mata go draws on the life of Vishnupriya, the wife of Chaitanyadeva of Nadia. She tells Chaitanya’s mother Sachi how she has been separated from her husband in all the four mythological yugas having reincarnated as Satyanarayani, Seeta, Radha and Vishnupriya. ekTi kamal phootechhilo is a song of loss of love. Bhober kheyaa ebaar baaoaa is based on kirtans and conveys her joys at finally having done with the burdens of her life and how she is looking forward to shedding the pains of this life and moving on. This is a meaningfully and beautifully done song.

With Anal Chattopadhyay she had recorded two songs, very different from each other. Krishnanagar theke aami Krishna khujey enechhi is a fast-paced song, referring to the earthen dolls that are the specialty of Krishnanagar in Nadia district of West Bengal. The song describes the beauty of the Krishna idol that has been brought from Krishnanagar and how it is very close to the heart of the singer. The other song is kato gaan haaraalaam, a sweet and lovely song of love and separation, very lovingly emoted.

There are two more songs that Geeta Dutt sang in Bangla, composed by Nirmal Chakraborty. Ei toe holo parichay is a simplistic tune while bhulite je paarinaa at a slower pace, is reminiscent of songs from old Bengali films.

Sudhirlal Chakraborty’s rajani pohaalo sakhi, penned by Pabitra Mitra has the singer pining for Krishna as a lover and describes the pain and anxiety of separation from him. This song has an old-world charm and quite likeable.

Geeta Dutt’s Bengali non-film output is not very massive, but again, it is characterized by variety and amazingly versatility of treatment.
Bengali Non-Film Songs
Year Song Composer Lyrics
1956 Otho Otho Maa Gauri Sudhin Dasgupta -
1956 Kajol Kajol Kumkum Sudhin Dasgupta Miltu Ghosh
1957 Jhiri Jhiri Choitali Batashe Sudhin Dasgupta Sudhin Dasgupta
1957 Krishnachura Agun Tumi Sudhin Dasgupta Sudhin Dasgupta
1958 Phuler Bone Laglo Je Dol Sudhin Dasgupta Sudhin Dasgupta
1958 Ektu Chaoya Aar ektu Paoya Sudhin Dasgupta Amitava Naha
1959 Oi Sur Bhara Dur Nilimay Kanu Ghosh Anal Chattopadhyay
1960 Hridoy Aamar Kicchu Jodi Bole Binod Chattopadhyay Pulak Bandopadhyay
1960 Ogo Amar Moner Chira Udas Kanu Ghosh Shyamal Gupta
1962 Kato Gaan Haralam Anal Chattopadhyay Prabodh Ghosh
1962 Krishnanagar theke ami Anal Chattopadhyay Kajal Ghosh
1964 Tomar Ashay Path Chheye Kanu Ghosh Pulak Bandopadhyay
1964 Kabe Kon Tara Jwala Kanu Ghosh Pulak Bandopadhyay
1967 Jaak Na Muchhe Jaak Salil Chowdhury Salil Chowdhury
1967 Sonay Dekhe Ango Salil Chowdhury Salil Chowdhury
- Bhober Kheya Ebar Baoa Mukul Roy Amiya Roye
- Shochimata Go Mukul Roy Vasudev
- Rojoni Pohalo Shokhi Sudhirlal Chakraborty Pabitra Mitra
- Ekhono Dustoro Lojja Mukul Roy -
- Ekti Komol Phutechhilo Mukul Roy Amiya Roy
- Aay Re Chhute Aay Kanu Ghosh Kanu Ghosh
- Podda Aamar Kohe Kende Kende Kanu Ghosh Kanu Ghosh
- Tomay Dekhechhi Kanu Ghosh Anal Chatterjee
- Rumjhum Jhornar Kanu Ghosh Anal Chatterjee
- Kotha Achhe Tumi Aaj Aashbe Kanu Ghosh -
- Janite Cheyechho Tumi Binod Chatterjee -
- Maatir Bhubone Jodi Binod Chatterjee -
- Akashjure Shopnomaya Kanu Ghosh Anal Chatterjee
- Ei To Holo Porichoy Nirmal Chakraborty -
- Bhulite Je Parinar Nirmal Chakraborty -
- Shudhu Ekbar Boley Jaa Binod Chatterjee -
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