Geeta Roy and first four years of her career: Part-1

Geeta Roy with her father

It has been decades since Geeta has left for the heavenly abode. Seeing her songs in the films was a thing of even further in the past. Very little information is known about the initial phase of her career. The lone exception is the book “Geeta Dutt: The Skylark” . The author has done about five years of research to come up with this book. Other than this book, the rest of the information available on the internet focuses primarily on Bhakta Pralhad (1946) and Do Bhai (1947).

An attempt is made here to throw light on the “Geeta Roy” part of her career (means before getting married to Guru Dutt), with the primary focus being on the first four years: 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1949.

1946: The year that it began

As we know, young Geeta Roy (who is seen in the above photo with her father) started her musical journey in the year 1946. Pandit Hanuman Pradsad was the composer who gave the very first break in playback singing to this young girl migrated to Mumbai from East Bengal. In the mythological film Bhakta Pralhaad, she sang as many as four songs. All of them were heavily chorus based songs, but Pandit Hanuman Pradsad gave Geeta an opportunity to sing few solo lines in all these songs. The same year she sang her first solo song for a costume drama film titled “Circus King”. The song was “Preeti kisi ko naa chhode” and was composed by the duo of Abhyankar Joshi and Naageshwar Rao. The same year she sang for the music maestro Master Ghulam Haider for the film Bairaam Khan. It was a group song with Shamshad Beghum (the number one singer of that time), Munnawar Sultana and Naseem Beghum. The song was “Jab chaand jawaan hogaa”.

“Nauka Doobi” (Bengali) and Milan (Hindi) was the last film made by the famous Bombay Talkies before it was closed. Young Geeta sang two songs for this film in Bengali and Hindi version each. The rest of the songs from these films were sung by Parul Ghosh, another popular singer of that time. The same year (1946), young Geeta sang a couple of songs each for the films “Nai Maa” and “Raseeli” for composer Pandit Hanuman Pradsad. This 16 year old young girl was singing a lori (lullaby) “Aajaa ree nindiyaa aaja, meri munni raani ko sulaa jaa”. The same year she sang a few songs for composer Shiv Narayan (S N) Tripathi and Chitragupt. These associations of Geeta with these two talented composers lasted till early sixties. The same year she sang her very first song with Mohammed Rafi. It was a trio song with Beenapani Mukherjee (Jai hind yeh Hind ki kahaniyaa). She and Rafi went on to sing some of the most melodious and memorable duets in the coming years.

This was just the beginning for this young girl, who was soon going to reach pinnacles of success!

Around this year (1946) apart from the leading singer Shamshad Beghum, there were several other female playback singers: Munnawar Sultaana, Mohantaraa Talapade, Lalita Deulgaonkar (Phadke after marriage with composer/singer Sudhir Phadke), Rajkumari, Parul Ghosh, Kanan Devi, Zohrajaan Ambalaawali, Ameerbai Karnataki, Pushpa Hans, Surinder Kaur, Paro, Madhubala Zaveri, Sulochana Kadam (Chavan after marriage), Sandhya Mukherjee, Khursheed etc. Each singer had her own style and identity. Geeta Roy had a fresh and sweet voice and she must have been one of the very few singers whose singing was not influenced by any established singer! One will be surprised to know that she did not know any language other than her mother tongue Bengali at this time. It is her sheer talent and hard-work that this fact is not reflected in any of her songs. Geeta was still waiting for that big break.

Geeta Roy in 1946

1947: The year she finally “arrived”

In the year 1947, our country got the freedom (at the cost of painful partition) and was followed by communal riots etc. These things did make an impact on the film industry as well. Some of the prominent composers noticed the talent named Geeta Roy this year. Anil Biswas (composer of the superhit film Kismat) composed three songs for Geeta Roy for the film Bhookh this year. Geeta got the most important opportunity this year to sing for Filmistan’s Do Bhai. The girl who could not read, write or even speak Hindi, sang songs in Hindi and even some dialects of Hindi (ex: Khadi boli) for this film. The producers of Filmistan were not willing to risk those songs in the voice of this newcomer young girl and were pressing for more experienced singer. The prince of Tripura “Sachin Dev Burman” was firm about his choice of the singer. Burmanda has heard Geeta singing and rehearsing for Pandit Hanuman Pradsad and was confident about his young protege. He himself was waiting for his big break, yet he trusted Geeta and gave as many as six songs to her for this film. Poet Lyricist Raja Mehendi Ali Khan’s words found a new voice in Geeta Roy. Geeta put her soul in these songs and rendered them to the amazement of the Filmistan’s bosses. “Mera sundar sapna beet gaya“, “Yaad karoge, yaad karoge”, “Mere piya toh base pardes re”, “Yaad rakhna, yaad rakhna”, “Aaj preet ka naata toot gayaa” and “Humein chhod piya kis des gaye” were the six songs Geeta sang for this film. The success of these songs made the singer Geeta and the composer Burman overnight stars.

In majority of the poems/lyrics, the “sapna” (dream) was said to be “toot gaya” (broken), but in the song “Mera sundar sapna” the lyricist came up with “beet gaya” with Geeta singing it as beeet gaya. The extra stretch on the word “beet” conveyed the pains and feelings of the song so perfectly. Geeta Roy had finally arrived!

Even though the film “Do Bhai” was not a sensation at the box office, the success of its music catapulted Geeta Roy to the top spot. The same year she sang as many as five songs for Raj Kapoor and Madhubala starrer “Dil ki Rani”, composed by her mentor S D Burman. Though the film had a wafer thin plot, its music became very popular. The same year Geeta sang a couple of songs for Burmanda for the film “Chittod Vijay” (another Madhubala starrer), but no information is available about this film or these two songs. This year Geeta sang for Ramchandra Narahar Chitalkar alias C Ramchandra for the first time. She sang for him in films like “Leela”, “Saajan” and “Shehnaai”. She also sang as many as five songs for extremely talented (but eccentric) Sajjad Hussain for the film Kasam this year. Unfortunately this film was never released and the songs available are in very poor audio quality. The same year she sang a lovely “Mujhe banwari banwari log kahen, main geet piya ke gaati hoon” for the film Mere Bhagwaan for genius Sajjad Hussain.

This year she also sang for veteran composers like Gyan Dutt, Bulo C Rani, Aziz Khan, Hansraj Behl, Zafar Khursheed and Khemchand Prakash to name a few. From the newer lot she continued to sing for Chitragupt, Premnath, B Vasudev (alias Snehal Bhatkar). Producer, director and lyricist Kidar Sharma made the film Neelkamal starring Raj Kapoor and Madhubala this year. Snehal Bhatkar was given his debut assignment as composer for this film. Along with Rajkumari (Kidar Sharma’s favorite singer) and Mukesh, young Geeta sang as many as five songs for this film.

While climbing the ladders of success, Geeta was practicing and rehearsing her songs with the composers and mainly the lyricists to get the right “feel” and “mood” of the songs. The same voice which was touching the listener’s hearts with melodies from Do Bhai, was singing “Chadhti jawani mein jhoola jhoolo meri raani”. She sang “Bol bol baalm bedardi kya teri marzi re” and went on to sing pathos filled song like “Woh dil gayaa woh dil ke sahaare chale gaye”. She was singing “Yeh haseenon ke mele albele” and was also asking “Kya isi kaa naam hain preet re?”. This is the year in which Geeta Roy sang her first song with the upcoming Lata Mangeshkar. “Jawaani ki rel chali jaaye re” was this song which they both sang with the singer composer C Ramchandra.

In the year 1947, Geeta sang approximately 50 songs. She knew that this was just the beginning for her!

Lata, Meena and Geeta

One can see Lata Mangeshkar, Meena Kapoor, and Geeta Roy in the above photo.

To be continued..

We sincerely thank all of our friends with special thanks to Dr. Mahesh, Gajendra, Mahesh Sharma , Waheed and Aditya Pant for the tremendous effort put together in building up the database of these early years and a vast amount of information they have shared with us.

Also many thanks to Haimanti Bannerji (the author of the book “Geeta Dutt: The Skylark”) for giving permission to use these extremely rare photographs from her book.

Tags: ,

7 Responses to “Geeta Roy and first four years of her career: Part-1”

  1. शरद तैलंग says:

    बहुत ही दुर्लभ फोटो देखने को मिल रहे है आपके इस ब्लॊग पर । बधाई

  2. parag says:

    @ शरद जी
    बहुत धन्यवाद शरद जी. आशा है की फोटोंके साथ साथ आप को यह छोटा सा आलेख भी पसंद आया होगा. अगर कोई त्रुटी सुधार है तो ज़रूर सुझायियेगा.

  3. Dr Mohan Dev Saini (Saudi Arabia) says:

    Dear Paraag ji,

    You have done an Excellent work . This is a real worship.
    Photos, songs video, & infortation all r beautiful.

    Write details about her children also.


  4. parag says:

    Dear Mohan Dev ji, it is nice to see that you are taking interest in this website and our blog. Some information is available on our main website about Geeta ji’s children

    Please keep visiting our blog regularly.


  5. Alpana says:

    Excellent site.
    Lot of information ,never read before.

    Few Pictures are rare.

    thanks for sharing them.

  6. Sounak says:

    Thanx a lot for providing the wonderful store of information on the musical maestro. Please take to notice that it has been mistakenly stated that Sandhya Mukherjee was a singer of Bollywood in 1946. Although she was a quite established artiste in Calcutta at that time, her first Hindi song in a Bollywood film was in Tarana (1951), in which she sang for Anil Biswas, a duet with Lata Mangeshkar, “Bol Papihe Bol”.

  7. mirszahmed says:

    thanks for doing a job well done, evergreen voice which sings from the depth of the heart.

Leave a Reply