Birth anniversary tribute : Geet Sangeet

** This tribute was posted on the Facebook group Geet Sangeet – Music beyond the boundaries on 23rd November 2015. ***

Today is 23rd November and it would have been her 85th birthday if Geeta Dutt ji were with us. Even though it has been over 40 years since she has left us for heavenly abode, she is always alive in the hearts of music lovers. Geeta ji was blessed with a rich voice that was like an interacting instrument that at once mesmerized her listeners. She had such magic in her voice that charmed her listeners like a snake is charmed to the music of a been. She rendered songs from her heart making them so endearingly heart rendering, thus making her the true queen of “Bhaav Gaayaki” (soulful singing). When she sang “Thandi Hawaa Kaali Ghata” you can feel the cool breeze of an overcast day. When she sang “Koi Door Se Awaaz De” you can sense the feelings of a hauntingly disturbed soul celebrating the resplendence of life on one side and yet lamenting setbacks on the other. As famous Hindi film music critic Subhash K. Jha puts it aptly “Geta Dutt’s voice conveys the sweetness of honey and the pain of the bee sting.”
Geeta Dutt

She was born into a rich zamindaar’s family as Geeta Ghosh Roy Chowdhuri in Faridpur, East Bengal in the year 1930. In 1942, her parents shifted to a Dadar apartment in Bombay (now Mumbai) when she was twelve. Over there in their modest flat at Dadar, composer/music director Hanuman Prasad, overheard her singing and agreed to take her under his wings to provide her training with nuances of singing. Soon after this, it is said that he launched her in a chorus song in the movie “Bhakta Prahlad (1946)”, where she had only a couple of lines to sing. She sang as many as four songs for this film. Over the years, we have discovered at least two of her songs recorded in the year 1945 under the baton of Pandit S N Tripathi ji for the film Adhaar (1945).
S.D. Burman heard Geeta ji’s voice and immediately decided to have her sing in “Do Bhai (1947)”. Geeta ji had this unconventional way of singing. The time was when most singing styles had origins of ghazals. Geeta ji who had this innate talent, with no formal training in singing of the type of songs that were in vogue at that time, introduced her own brand of appealingly fresh and free flowing style of singing. Her singing was based on instincts and spontaneity, guts and feelings, and love and pensiveness that resulted in breathing life and emotion into each song she sang. The songs of Do Bhai, especially Mera sundar sapna beet gaya and Yaad karoge yaad karoge became very popular. Young Geeta Roy became an overnight sensation in the Hindi film music world. Her voice was so fresh, unique and ethereal it appeared to have breathed life into those songs. With the stardom achieved from the success of “Do Bhai”, Geetaji became extremely busy. Almost as if by magic, an obscure singer not known to many people across the country became a celebrity and a household name overnight.
Late forties and early fifties were her best years as a playback singer supreme. During these years, she still maintained the status as an influential vocalist of Hindi film world because she kept singing song after song delighting millions of moviegoers throughout India.

Geeta Dutt

From this stage, Geeta ji went on to sing some memorable, melodious and soulful songs. She modulated her voice to suit a wide range of songs like romantic, comic, sad, devotional, club, dance, philosophical and patriotic to name a few genres. Some of her more famous songs are composed by the Trimurti of S D Burman, O P Nayyar and Hemant Kumar. Some of the stalwart composers she sang for are: Chitragupt, Hansraj Behl, Avinash Vyas, Bulo C Rani, Pandit S N Tripathi, Gyan Dutt, Husnlal-Bhagatram, C Ramchandra, Anil Biswas, Roshan, Madan Mohan, Vasant Desai, N Dutta, Shankar-Jaikishen, Ram Ganguly, Mukul Roy, Master Ghulam Haider, Pankaj Mullick, Khemchand Prakash, Khwaja Khurshid Anwar, Khayyam, Pandit S D Batish, Salil Choudhury, Snehal Bhatkar, Kalyanji-Anandji, Ghulam Mohd, S Mohinder, Sajjad Husain, Sardar Malik etc.
During her career she sang for over 150 composers and sang over 1500 songs in Hindi, Bengali, Gujrati, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Nepali, Maithili etc. Majority of her songs are from films yet her non-film output, though less in number is equally great in quality.
Geeta Lata Meena

On July 20, 1972, Geetaji passed away as a result of continuing and declining bad health. She was just 41 year old. The voice that thrilled and filled with joy for millions of music lovers was gone forever. Here she was whose voice stopped aging as proven from the songs of “Anubhav”, sang only the previous year, finally succumbed to ill health.
The voice that had the youthful joie de vivre was completely quelled. The ease and spontaneity that were the hallmarks of Geetaji’s singing could never sing another song. The voice that defied convention with its enthralling tonal quality, that was sumptuous in expression, that was enticing with melody, that was sweet like honey, that had soothing mellifluous quality, that was enchantingly dulcet, and that explored a gamut of emotions from subtle enticement to wistful longing was extinguished forever.
She might not be here with us but will always be alive through her enchanting voice. The frenetic cadence of modern life that Geeta ji captured through her ceaseless spontaneity ceased to exist in 1972, but in a short and glorious span of only few years she left us with a rich legacy of thousands of songs into which she breathed life with her unique ethereal voice that have stood the test of time and continue to enthrall generations after generations of fine music lovers all over the world.

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One Response to “Birth anniversary tribute : Geet Sangeet”

  1. Shalini Singh says:

    Great Information about My Favourite Singer Geeta Roy Dutt. Congratulations for giving us so much about Geeta Roy Dutt.

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