Ebullient and exciting. Effervescent and enticing. Enchanting and enthralling. Energetic and entertaining. Sensuous and sensitive. Bewitching and beguiling. Magnetic and mesmerizing. Vibrant and full of verve. When one talks about beautiful Madhubala one thinks of these words. Interestingly, the voice of that great singer Geeta Dutt (nee Roy) can be described exactly with just about the same traits.
Madhubala. An original. Elegant extraordinaire. An exquisite beauty of unparalleled grace. A glowing face that could launch a thousand ships. An infectious smile that could aflutter a million hearts. A spontaneous burst of laughter that could make even a lightning to go haywire.
Geeta Dutt. An original. Singer extraordinaire. A brilliant voice of unparalleled melody. A free flowing voice that could charm thousands. An infectiously mellifluous voice that could sway millions of music lovers. A dulcet tone that sets the tone so that even a dullest could enamor.
Both of them came into movie limelight at the same time. They were almost of the same tender age. They both romanced life to the fullest. They both courted someone whom they were professionally associated with. Both faced stiff opposition from their respective parents about these relationships. Even after they got married they both had very little joy in their lives. Their story was that of unflinching agony, unending suffering, utter disillusionment, and ultimately untimely death. Madhubala passed away when she was barely 36. Geeta Dutt passed away when she was only 42.
In the brief span of few years of glory these both artistes shared, they left behind a legacy of rich oeuvre of everlasting work. The wonderful body of work that intersected their lives resulted in nearly 50 magnificent songs of ethereal quality. These songs ranged from sweet to sentimental, soothing to sultry, sensuous to sizzling, tantalizing to tragic, mellisonic to melancholic, romantic to razzle-dazzle, and of pure pleasure to pinching pain. The full spectrum of the melodic rainbow moods was never before this well defined and delineated in all its glowing and glorious colors that this montage of melodic work did.
Madhubala’s and Geeta’s parents moved to Mumbai seeking better life when both of them were very young. Madhubala found work as a child artiste, her real name was Mumtaz, when she was only nine years old. “Basant” made in 1942 was her first movie. Geeta was discovered when Pandit Hanuman Prasad overheard her singing in her residence and took under his wings. Her opportunity to sing came in a chorus song in 1946 in “Bhakt Prahlad”.
The year 1947 was an eventful year in both of their lives. Mumtaz changed her name to Madhubala at Devika Rani’s suggestion when she got an opportunity to play the lead role in “Neel Kamal”. That very same year, Geeta sang several songs in “Do Bhai” under the baton of S.D. Burman. The song from this movie, “Mere Sundar Sapna Beet Gaya”, in Geeta’s fresh, unique, and ethereal voice became an overnight sensation and with it Geeta became a celebrity.
Interestingly Geetaji sang for Madhubala in her “Neel Kamal” and two other movies in 1947. If both of them were trying to get a foothold in the industry the songs of these movies don’t tell the entire story. Because they show a mature and understanding voice that has such depth that once you hear them, they stay with you forever. For example, you can feel how Geeta pleads for leading lady, Madhubala, with the song “Bol Bol Baalam Bedardi”.
In “Dil Ki Rani” also from 1947, Geetaji changes her voice to fit the moods of her heroine, Madhubala, brilliantly. She collaborates with her in the moods of happiness (“Aaha More Mohan Ne Mujhko Bulaaya”), helplessness (“Bigdi Hui Taqdeer Mere Aake Bana De”), complaintive (“Kyon Baalam Humse Rooth Gaye”), mockingly quizzical (“O Duniya Ke Rehne Waalo Kahaan Gaya Chitchor”). When you hear the voice of Geeta in these songs, you can play how Madhubala enacted them in your own mind’s eye. This is what the dizzying power of sweet songs can do to dazzle you.
The singer who sang this romantic and sweet “Ahaa more mohan ne mujhko bulayaa” did not hesitate in singing the complaining song “Kyon balam humse rooth gaye” in the same film.
Here is the song “Bigdi hui taqdeer meri aake basaa de” from the same film.
Another Madhubala starrer film “Mere Bhagwan” released the same year. Since we do not have the videos of this rare film, we can not conclusively say whether this lovely melody composed by Sajjad Hussain was filmed on Madhubala or not. Yet, this sweet song penned by Shewan Rizwi is worth paying attention to.
It looks like Geeta and Madhubala had the most association in the year 1947. Another Madhubala starrer, a historical film “Chittor Vijay” was also released in the same year. It had music composed by S D Burman and Geeta Dutt is reported to have sung at least two songs for it. Again, no information is available about the songs themselves or whom they were filmed on. One can safely believe that at least one of them would have been filmed on Madhubala, if not both of them!
1951 was another year the lives of these two great artistes incredibly ran almost parallel to each other. During the shooting of the movie “Tarana” love blossomed between Madhubala and the hero of the movie, Dilip Kumar. This was one of several movies they worked together. Dev Anand’s “Baazi”, also made in 1951, had a first time director, Guru Dutt. Geeta, a celebrity by this time, sang several beautiful songs in this movie recorded under Burmanda’s direction. Geeta and Guru Dutt were attracted to each other and romance between them flourished.
Between the year 1947 and 1954, Geeta sang for several films starring Madhubala. Some of her songs were lip synced by Madhubala, for some others we are not sure. Videos of some of the films are not available. The list of films is : Sipahiya (1949), Paras (1949), Nishana (1950), Sangdil (1952) and Armaan (1953). Out of these, the video of the religious song “Darshan Pyasi, aayi daasi” from the film Sangdil is available and this song is indeed filmed on Madhubala. Were not Madhubala and Geeta “thirsty for the sight of their respective lovers” in those days? Sure they were!
The year 1955 also saw so much commonality between these two stars. Madhubala and Dilip Kumar were very much in love with each other. The married life of Geeta and Guru Dutt was harmonious. They were blessed with a son a year before. The year however was even more important because Madhubala appeared in Geeta Dutt husband’s movie, “Mr. & Mrs. ‘55”, as the leading lady. Geeta had a chance to sing six songs. Of these, five were picturized on Madhubala, three solos and two duets with Rafi Saab.
The five songs from this movie display Geeta’s prowess to sing vastly varied types of songs, all effective and with equal ease. For example, in the duet “Chal Diye Banda Nawaaz” she adds a touch of tease to her voice and matches the legendary Mohd Rafi in this chhed-chhad song.
In “Neele Aasmani” she matches with the wits of her heroine by giving the song a sultry touch. Then in “Preetam Aan Milo” she proves how a melodic voice can be turned into a provocative voice as well. Then like the cool breeze, she sings soothingly “Thandi Hawa” putting the listener’s mind and heart at ease. Picturize this as Madhubala with her infectious smile as her locks blowing away freely in the breeze. A prefect setting of a free spirit.
Some unconfirmed sources mention that this song also has Shamshad Begum as a co-singer with Geeta along with the chorus. It is kind of surprising that the composer Rhythm King O P Nayyar calls Geeta Dutt and Shamshad Begum as his favorite singers, but did not compose a single duet for both of them. May be is this that song where he requested his senior singer Shamshad to pitch in for a few lines? No one really knows!
Finally in the duet “Udhar Tu Haseen Ho” Geetaji gives ones heart a mighty throb by giving the song that utterly romantic and delicious flavor. Different moods of Madhubala. Matching moods of Geeta’s singing style. Things can’t get any better than this! This can be attributed to a major extent to the good life both were enjoying at this juncture in their lives.
By the way the sixth song sung by Geeta in this movie, a duet, “Jaane Kahaan Mera Jigar Gaya Ji” was done in a whimsical but with teasingly beautiful and sweet voice matching every modulation and nuance of Rafi Saab’s voice. It is filmed on Yasmin and not Madhubala.
This was just only a year after 1955. But many things can happen within one year. From the beginning Madhubala’s father was dead against her relationship with Dilip. The romance eventually ended abruptly in 1956 when Dilip Kumar testified against Madhubala and her father in the court when she refused to honor her commitment to B.R. Chopra who was making “Naya Daur” with her and Dilip in the leads and part of the movie was already shot. Madhubala eventually married the singer-actor Kishore Kumar in 1960, against the wishes of both of their parents. Even though married, they never really lived together.
Geeta’s parents were also very much against her relationship with Guru Dutt. But as Guru Dutt started making a name for himself, they eventually changed their mind and agreed to their marriage in 1953. By 1956, Geeta had two sons (Tarun in 1954 and Arun in 1956). It was also the year Guru Dutt introduced Waheeda Rehman in his movie “C.I.D.”.
1957 saw Madhubala, in spite of all the health problems and emotional problems, trying to complete her work in Asif’s magnum opus “Mughal-E-Azam”. That year Guru Dutt’s history making classic “Pyaasa” was released. It was widely reported that Guru was getting greatly fond of Waheeda Rehman who was his costar in “Pyaasa”. Not many know about this, but the matter of fact is that Guru Dutt wanted to have Dilip Kumar to play the role of poet Vijay (later on played by Guru Dutt himself), Nargis in the role of Meena (later on played by Mala Sinha) and Madhubala in the role of Gulab (later on played by Waheeda Rehman). Both Nargis and Madhubala were very excited to work in this venture by Guru Dutt, but both of them could not decide which of the two roles they wanted to do. Due to this, Guru decided to drop both the leading actresses and roped in the two newcomers as mentioned above. On the first day of the shooting, Dilip Kumar did not turn up and Guru Dutt decided to take up the challenging role himself. One can only imagine Madhubala lip syncing to the melodious “Jaane kya tune kahi” and being in the frame for the divine song “Aaj sajan mohe ang lagaa lo”…
That very same year also saw one of Madhubala’s movie, “Yahudi Ki Ladki” released. The significant thing about this was that Hemantda provided its music and Geeta Dutt sang seven songs, five solos and two duets with Shamshad Begum. These were the most songs in a single film Geeta ever sang in a Madhubala movie.
Hemantda was another music director who experimented with Geeta’s voice by giving her different types of songs. We are not certain how many of these songs were picturized on Madhubala. However, one can picture Madhubala enacting these on the screen breathing life into them with her beautifully expressive face by lip syncing to each of the words of these beautiful songs. Look at how easily Geeta shifts from one mood to another per demands of the songs, very effortlessly. For example, Geeta teasingly invites her lover in the song “Aa Hum Se Pyaar Karle”.
Imagine here Madhubala with her beautiful smile and a twinkle in her eye. Geetaji has two duets with Shamshadji, another great singer with outstandingly unique voice. To hear these two great divas singing together is such a rare treat. Both songs “Hum Kisise Na Kahenge” are teasingly tantalizing. Both Geeta and Shamshad show with their performance of these songs why they are masters at this art. The result is a stunner. Next Geeta’s voice becomes sentimental when she deplores her current state in the song “Chaar Din Ki Hain Bahaaren”. But when she sings the song “Karle Dil Ka Sauda” she shows the steamy sultriness for which she became famous in her later years of singing career. In the next song, at once she switches to a sensuous mood very effortlessly by singing the beauty “Na Ho Dil Jiske Seene Mein”. Finally, in the solo, “Sammara Sammara” Geeta once again demonstrates why she was the best in the songs that had tantalizing and jazzy tone.
The team of composer Hemantda, singer Geeta Dutt and actress Madhubala joined once again the next year as well. This time it was a musical suspense crime thriller film titled “Police” (1958). Actor Pradeep Kumar himself produced this film and of course acted in it in the leading role. Hemant Kumar and Geeta Dutt sang one of the most romantic and sweet duet “Chale hum kahan..” filmed on Pradeep Kumar and Madhubala.
Almost a diametrically opposite song “Oh oh oh oh baby, Mudake zara, Arre kiye jaa, Halka halka isharra..” was again sung by composer-singer Hemantda with Geeta Dutt for this film. The tune of this song was obviously inspired from some western song, but the “Nashaa” of Geeta’s voice and Madhubala’s charm was perfectly original!
The film Police had some more songs sung by Geeta which are not easily available. The year 1960 was a memorable year in Madhubala’s life. Her most eagerly awaited movie “Mughal-E-Azam” was released. It took ten years to make, but when it was finally released it proved to be an artistic triumph for everyone concerned. Madhubala was showered with unprecedented praises for her performance as the tormented lover, Anarkali. It was the crowning glory of her career.
The same year Madhubala married Kishore Kumar but it wasn’t a happy union because of rejection by their respective families. Also, in an almost parallel track, by 1960 relationship between Geeta and Guru Dutt was completely strained. The title of the movie “Mehlon Ke Khwab” ironically reflects what happened to both of their lives at this stage. This 1960 movie starring Madhubala has a duet by Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhsole, “Is Duniya Mein Sabse Acchi”, that was philosophical in its mood. That “goodness” both of them were seeking in their lives and from this world remained a “khwab”, just a dream.
In this song, Geeta gives voice to Madhubala and Asha to Chanchal, real life sister of Madhubala. Music is by S Mohinder and lyrics by Raja Mehendi Ali Khan.
Madhubala acted in another film titled Passport (1961) again with Pradeep Kumar. This time, the composers were Kalyanji – Anandji who gave as many as three solos to Geeta Dutt. None of these were filmed on Madhubala though!
Probably the last song sung by Geeta and filmed on Madhubala was from the film Half Ticket starring her real life husband Kishore Kumar. The song is a fun-filled duet “Ankhon mein tum, dil mein tum ho” sung by Geeta and Kishore Kumar himself.
Death strikes in strange ways. Nobody is above death, but when you think these talent rich people are scaling new heights in their respective professional carriers, and still are young and have so much to accomplish, it sours admirers and pains them deeply. Take Madhubala’s case as n example. She was born with a defective heart and it wasn’t known until 1950 what was ailing her. She was frequently coughing up blood on the sets because of the problem. She sought help from doctors abroad in 1960 but at that time technology was not as advanced as today to offer help. She lived with the suffering for another nine years before breathing her last on February 23, 1969, only nine days after her 36th birthday.
Now take Geeta Dutt’s life as an example. She started having problems with her marriage when seemingly her husband was having a romantic liaison with Waheeda Rehman, the actress he introduced and a star of many of his movies. This eventually led to the separation from her husband in early 60’s. Her husband died in early October 1964 soon after the separation. This left Geeta as an emotional wreck and she suffered a severe nervous breakdown. She took to heavy drinking. She tried to come back a few times but it was futile. Geeta breathed her last on July 20, 1972 at the young age of 41.
Here we are. Madhubala. A mystic beauty of exquisite charms. Geeta Dutt. An unparalleled singer with a honeyed voice. When they came together, it spelled magic. The spell that never goes away. The grip never lets loose of either a video viewer or an audio listener. Two lives marred with personal problems. Two lives cut short by tragedies. Two talent-laden personalities who entertained us in their own unique way. Two legends who live in our hearts forever …
Here is a listing of songs sung by Geeta Dutt (nee Roy) in Madhubala starrer films. Please note that this may not be a comprehensive list. Also not necessarily all the songs are filmed on Madhubala.
About the author:
We are grateful to our dear friend and an avid music lover Swarapriya for helping us with this immensely research based and beautifully articulated article.