Posts Tagged ‘Life’

In conversation with Sammy Reuben: Famous piano-accordionist

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Geeta Dutt

This is an in person account of conversation of our dear friend Laxmi Priya with Sammy Reuben, the famous piano-accordionist. He started his career with Geeta Dutt where he played for the song Mujhe jaa na kaho meri jaan…for the film Anubhav. He is son of the late Dr. H. Reuben and is a past student of St. Vincent’s High School and of Fergusson College, Pune. He first took piano lessons from Miss E. Roberts, and later learned the piano-accordion from Mrs. A Ketkar. A hobby first, music became his career when he went to Bombay in 1967.
A small write up based on my conversation with SAMMY REUBEN – [ Famous piano-accordionist , who started his career with Geeta Dutt where he played for the song Mujhe jaa na kaho meri jaan…for the film Anubhav – 1971 ] – I gathered this info by asking various questions I posed as I tried to grasp a glimpse of our beloved singer Geeta Dutt and how it was for her in the year 1968 when he met her .

Sammy Reubens was all of 24 years only ,when he came from Pune to Bombay (now Mumbai).
On October 10, 1964 Guru Dutt passed away, leaving Geeta a broken woman. She suffered a nervous breakdown. When she was recovering ,she did try to resume singing again, cutting discs at Durga Puja, performing at stage shows and even doing a Bangla film, Badhu Baran (1967) as the heroine.
It was during this period in the year 1968 that Sammy first met her. He came from Pune which was his home town . He was staying as a paying guest with his aunt in Bombay. He used to go frequently in the evenings to Geeta Dutt ‘s house.
He found that actress Tuntun [ singer Uma Devi ] took up one room for herself there and was seen smoking 555 cigarettes all the time. Sammy says that she made abundant use of Geeta Dutt ‘s hospitality. Sammy met Tuntun’s daughters , one of them who was even an airhostess . He too wondered like me , why she never stayed with her daughters and was living off Geeta Dutt. He says that it’s probably because Tuntun was a regular in all her husband Guru Dutt’s films and therefore stayed with her after Guru Dutt passed away. Geeta Dutt had many friends during the pinnacle of fame like actress Smriti Biswas etc. Sammy does not recall even a single friend of her’s visiting her during those days. It was as if she was abandoned by them all. A tleast as far as he used to go to her house back then , no one came for her.
He recalls that she NEVER ever discussed her personal problems but would rather consider Sammy’s difficulties. Sammy told again and again ….such a graceful and wonderful person she was….poor lady he interjected at times when he was consumed by nostalgia about her….Staying with her at that time after Guru Dutt passed away were her 3 children , a domestic servant [ Sammy does not recall her name … who used to cook, clean and look after the 3 kids ….. Debu chakraborthi ,the tabla player who used to play for her shows , fell in love with this house help and they both married . Geeta Dutt even helped them for their marraige Debu later played for R B Burman and even for Hemant Kumar. He is now with his son in America ….. Sammy does not know who worked for her after these both got married ] . Apart from these & Tuntun , her cousin cum secretary called Hiroo was there , Sammy says that he had big eyes and was a typical Bengali . Hiroo used to look after all her financial matters , arrange shows collect payments etc .
Sammy also recalls that there was another nice gentleman called Monish who had wanted to become an actor but he never made it. Monish stayed in that house as a companion for the lonely Geeta Dutt. They used to share a few drinks after dinner late in the night. Sammy says he was young and dint bother to understand that relationship [ I told him that it must be more to do with companionship & we both agreed on this ] Sammy says that Geeta Dutt never misbehaved when she drank. At all times she was very restrained and considerate about others. He says that maybe she drank to forget her misery,….. poor lady repeated again & again…[ If only she lived now in the days of internet & music groups ,….so many TRUE fans would have not made her feel lonely at least ]….. Sammy even went on to mention that once upon a time Asha Bhonsle used to touch her feet whenever they both met . Later O P Nayyar gave the heroine songs in the film Howrah bridge to Asha whom he became intimate with and gave Geeta Dutt the club song which went on to become the most popular song of the film. Geeta Dutt never ever wished ill for Asha or anyone for that matter .
Along with Sammy & Geeta Dutt,……. Tuntun , Hiroo & Monish also used to accompany them for the late night shows of films they used to quite frequently go to . Once there was a show in Pune. Geeta Dutt came to know that Pune was Sammy’s home town so she ensured that his name was also there in the publicity posters for the show . Once there Sammy drove his dad’s car who was no more . It was a wonderful Vauxhall car. Geeta dutt then came to know that Sammy could drive a car. So once back in Bomaby , Geeta Dutt used to make her car driver go home and Sammy used to drive them all when they used to go for these late night shows.
Wallowing in grief and a nervous breakdown Geeta Dutt used to suddenly get irritated if the kids were naughty and she used to go away to a known hospital and stay there was 2 or 3 days and take rest. Then she used to get back. I asked Sammy how the kids coped with this. He said that they were looked after well as far as he saw & knew….. Dint this have an impact on them ? I asked. He said maybe , but he was not aware of any disturbances by the kids Tarun Dutt was 14 years then. Arun Dutt was 12 years & Nina was only 6 years. I asked Sammy what happened to all these people when Geeta Dutt passed away. He told that as far he knew the sons were looked after by Atmaram [ Guru Dutt’s brother ] & Nina was looked after by Lalita Lajmi [ as I read in a filmfare I told him ] . He told maybe , because he was not there in Bombay when Geeta Dutt passed away. He was in Pune and dint get any news . . Of Tuntun, Hiroo and Monish , he does not know what happened to them.
When it came to the recording of the song for the film Anubhav-1971, Sammy had full admiration in his voice when he told wonderingly that , she came from the hospital directly to record for this song……Imagine in what state of mind she came. Poor Lady must have been a wreck. But she got the nuances of the song immediately She had by then recorded a couple of songs for the film . He played specifically for the song Mujhe ja na kaho meri jaan . She hardly rehearsed for the song. In no time she picked up the melody & the recording was over in an hour. Sammy says that he never saw her recording at the peak of her career but from what he saw he felt that it was incredible that a singer who was down in the dumps in her personal life , with no regular recordings and practice , could sing just like that as if on a cue. Imagine how she was when she was when she was famous . I asked Sammy about her laugh in the Meri jaan song ….Sammy does not know the know how she did that, maybe the words or the film scene .needed it maybe the director and Basu Bhattacharya must have suggested . The song was composed by the brilliant Kanu Roy. Sammy says , poor chap such a simpleton he was . He is no more. He & Kanu Gosh[ not as talented as Kanu Roy he told ] were both assts. to composer Salilda he told . For this song Debu played the table while Sammy played the instrument , that we see Shubha Khote is seen playing for the song picturisation of “ Tu Pyar ka sagar ho “ song in the film Seema-1955.. This instrument was regularly used in theatres for any Nautanki .It had a keyboard like harmonium & both hands were used by the person playing it. .Like the pedestal sewing machine, through paddeling with the legs , the wind support was given to the instrument. It was called Paitty, perhaps ,because of its wooden box like,appearance. Some people even call this the desi piano [ This information was given to me by Moolnarain Sardanaji ] . From Sammy’s description I understood that he played this for the “ Mujhe jana kaho “ song .


Why was she not given chances when she was so gifted I asked despairingly . Sammy replied that maybe she stopped caring…and anyway Stage shows gave her enough. Shows were frequent for her . They happened once in 2 weeks. How much was she paid I asked . He told that they were given 5000 which was good money those days . when a south indian thalli was just 1 Rupee. Orchestra was given 1500 rupees and the rest was more than enough for her daily expenses, hospital bills . Even Drinking I asked ? Sammy told that money was not a problem for her. Atleast those days she never visited the hospital because of any liver ailment. She was just depressed and sad. He told that he does not know when she fell ill because of any liver ailment.
Of the many shows he remembered the 1st show they did together in Kapurtala, One in Punjab & then in Lucknow with a strong crowd of 40,000 plus. After her death he was cut off from all of them until a program organizer called Manohar Iyer did 2 Geeta Dutt shows in Bombay for her 30th Death anniversary in 2002. One show was in East Vile Parle & one was 2 days later in West Vile Parle. For both shows Arun Dutt [ Geeta Dutt’s 2nd son ] was invited and asked to speak . He told that he was always invited for many shows as a tribute to his father Guru Dutt . This was the first one for his mother and he was extremely happy about it [ Author Haimanthiji who wrote a lovely biography of Geeta Dutt also told me the same. She had met Arun Dutt to research about his mother. He told her that he was amazed & happy that someone had come to him about his mother. It was always about his father that people approached him , he told her ] . At the end of the show Manohar Iyer introduced everyone and then proclaimed that Sammy Reuben was in the orchestra, who was one of the original players in Geteta Dutt’s shows. Arun Dutt immediately asked Manohar Iyer if it was the Sammy uncle he knew. Later during the 2nd show Arun Dutt called Sammy on to the stage & hugged him. He even thanked him for being in his mother’s life during her difficult days. [ I got tears when Sammy told this on phone ].
I thanked Sammy Reuben profusely for sharing his memories about our beloved singer and pondered over what all he told . Since I recorded the conversation I heard it once again and carefully wrote all this . Any error on my part can be corrected by knowledgeable people.
After note – . Consumed by her personal grief and a declining health , Geeta Dutt as said by many , began drinking to a point of no return. She died of liver cirrhosis in 1972 but not before she demonstrated she still had it in her, were she given a chance. The songs of Basu Bhattacharya’s Anubhav (1971), Meri jaan mujhe jaan na kaho, Koi chupke se aake and Mera dil jo mera hota represent some of the finest work that Geeta Dutt had ever done.

Geeta Dutt & Meena Kumari – Mirrored Lives!

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Meena Kumari and Geeta Dutt

When it comes to listing the all time great actresses of Hindi cinema, Meena Kumari’s name would surely figure prominently. Known as the Tragedy Queen for her mastery in portraying sad roles, Meena Kumari demonstrated her acting prowess in a number of films in the 1950s and 1960s. Born Mahjabeen Bano on August 1, 1932, Meena Kumari’s acting career started as a child artiste in the film Leatherface in 1939. After a few mythological and fantasy films as an adult, Meena Kumari’s big break came with the film Baiju Bawara in 1952. The film earned her the first Filmfare Award for Best Acress and established her position as one of the leading actresses of Hindi cinema.

On watching a teenaged Meena Kumari lip-syncing to barely-out-of-her-teens voice of Geeta Roy in Sri Ganesh Mahima (Shri Krishna Vivah) in 1950, little would anyone in the audience have realized that that the lives of these two remarkable ladies would uncannily mirror each other over the next two decades.

When Geeta Roy sang for Meena Kumari for the first time, she was already a star, while Meena Kumari was just managing to gain a foothold as an adult actress. In the beginning, Meena Kumari did a lot of mythological films like Veer Ghatotkach, Shri Ganesh Mahima, Laxmi Narayan, Hanuman Patal Vijay, where Geeta Roy sang a number of songs. It is not sure how many of Geeta Roy songs in these films were picturised on Meena Kumari.

We do have one song from Shri Ganesh Mahima available here. An absolute beauty of a song, Sakhi Re Mera Man Nache, exemplifies perfect sync between what you hear and what you see. The emotions associated with the first flush of love coming alive wonderfully both in Geeta Roy’s voice and Meena Kumari’s enactment.

A similar song also appeared in Tamasha, two years later, where the character played by Meena Kumari seemed absolutely on the seventh heaven because her beloved appeared in her dreams. Geeta Roy’s voice captured the nuances of love wonderfully in her rendition. Could it be that real life events in the lives of the two ladies somehow made their presence felt in their performances?

It was in the early 1950s when both Meena Kumari and Geeta Roy’s lives started mirroring each other’s. During the recording of a song of Baazi, Geeta Roy met Guru Dutt for the first time and this meeting apparently blossomed into love and ultimately culminated in their marriage in 1953. Meena Kumari’s experience was no different. She too met her future husband, Kamal Amrohi, at work i.e. on the sets of a film. Meena Kumari and Kamal Amrohi eventually got married in 1952.

With the success of Baiju Bawara in 1952, Meena Kumari established herself as one of the top actresses of that time. In the following year, with her strong performance in Bimal Roy’s Parineeta (based on Sarat Chandra’s eponymous novel) won she won her second consecutive Filmfare award. Musically speaking, the highlight of the film in my opinion was Chand Hai Wohi, sung with great feeling by Geeta. The nuances of a woman unflinching devotion to the man she has secretly married and her inability to reveal her ‘secret’ is brought out brilliantly in this song.

The film Baadbaan (1954) had a stellar star cast of Dev Anand, Meena Kumari, Ashok Kumar and Usha Kiran. The film’s music was composed by the the legendary Timir Baran and S K Pal. The lyrics were penned by Indeevar. Though we do not have the video of this which can be a conclusive evidence that this song was indeed filmed on Meena Kumari, it surely reflected the state of their minds a few years later.

Although Meena Kumari got closely associated with the epithet of “Tragedy Queen”, she did a number of light-hearted roles all though her career. One such film was with the King of Comedy, Kishore Kumar. The film Shararat had two songs sung by Geeta Dutt for Meena Kumari – both duets with Kishore Kumar. These songs are a rarity because Geeta Dutt has sung very few duets with Kishore Kumar, and even fewer songs under the baton of Shankar Jaikishan.

The coincidental similarities between the lives of Meena Kumari and Geeta Dutt continued. In the second half of the decade of 1950s, their husbands conceived two films with their wives in the lead role. Guru Dutt planned Gauri, which unfortunately did not progress beyond a few days of shooting. Kamal Amrohi planned his magnum opus Pakeezah, which again went into cold storage for many years, apparently due to the troubled relationship between Meena Kumari & Kamal Amrohi. Thankfully, the project was revived and released almost 15 years after it was first conceived.

As the years progressed, the married lives of both the artistes were in shambles. It was at this time that Guru Dutt offered Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam to Meena Kumari. This tale of a woman’s desperation to gain her husband’s love and attention, and eventually finding solace in drinking, couldn’t have been closer to her real life. Geeta Dutt’s personal situation at this time was no different. When Geeta Dutt sang Na Jao Saiyan for Meena Kumari on screen, the resultant feeling was uncannily real, almost as if the actress and the singer were reliving their own lives.

This one song sums up the unique characterization of Chhoti Bahu in the film – a woman who is traditional at the core, but liberated enough to make sexual demands of her wayward husband. Nobody but Geeta Dutt could have brought alive the poignancy of the situation.

Listen to what Shashi Kapoor and Shabana Azmi have to say about the film in general, and the song in particular.

Video not available

The year 1964 turned out to be an emotionally devastating year for Meena Kumari as well as Geeta Dutt. Geeta Dutt lost her husband under tragic circumstances, while Meena Kumari got a divorce. Both women found solace in alcohol and this fatally messed up their health. Meena Kumari and Kamal Amrohi did get together again, and Pakeezah was revived. Geeta Dutt had no such luck as her husband was gone forever. She found herself in dire straits soon after and her life got caught in a downward spiral.

Fans of Meena Kumari and Geeta Dutt cannot erase the year 1972 from their memories. First Meena Kumari succumbed to cirrhosis of the liver in March 1972, followed by Geeta Dutt who died of the same ailment a few months later. And like a candle that shines the brightest before extinguishing, Meena Kumari gave us Pakeezah, and Geeta Dutt gave us poignant songs in Anubhav, before leaving the world forever.

Note :

Bappa Chatterjee

This post is a specially dedicated to the memory of HF member late Bappa Chatterjee who was one of the most ardent fans of these two great artists, Meena Kumari and Geeta Dutt.

About the author:

Aditya Pant is a film and music buff from Ghaziabad, India. A die-hard Lata Mangeshkar fan, Aditya’s considers himself a ‘secular’ music buff who enjoys good music irrespective of the vintage or language. In his free time he loves to write about his passions – music, films and poetry on his bog

We are grateful to Aditya for contributing this special article on the occasion of 23rd November, the birth anniversary of Geeta Dutt and the first birthday of our website dedicated to her.

Geeta Dutt : A journey through picture memories

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Geeta at 16
Young Geeta Roy, migrated from Faridpur in East Bengal to Mumbai (Bombay in those days). She was just 16 year old when veteran composer Pandit Hanuman Prasad spotted the magic in her voice. Geeta practicing her “Riaaz” is seen here.

Young Geeta singing in a group

No other female playback singer would have achieved the heights of popularity which Geeta Roy did in the first three years of her career. After making debut in 1946, in the next coming three years she sang close to one hundred songs per year. Here we see young Geeta performing for a group of composers, lyricists, musicians and others. Her father is seated behind her.

Geeta Roy surrounded by her fans

A melodious and talented singer with grace, beauty and charm! No wonder she was popular among her fans.

Meena Kapoor, Lata and Geeta Dutt

Meena Kapoor, Lata Mangeshkar and Geeta Roy (from Left to right) were good friends in those days.

Geeta Bali and Geeta Roy on the set of Baaz

Geeta Roy and young struggling director met on the sets of Baazi (1951) and fell in love. Later Guru Dutt made Baaz (1953) in association with actress Geeta Bali. Here we see Geeta Bali and Geeta Roy on the set of Baaz.

Sketch by R K Laxman

She was very popular and ruled the female playback singing from 1947 till 1949. Even in the early fifties she was one among the top three singers. Here is a sketch of her made by none other than the famous artist R K Laxman!

Dev Anand, Johny Lever, Guru Dutt, Geeta Dutt

Dev Anand was a close friend of Guru Dutt who is seen in this pic with Johny Walker, Guru Dutt and Geeta Dutt.

Guru and Geeta Dutt with Geeta Bali and Mohd Rafi and others

The occasion seem to be some kind of “pooja” being performed on buying a new car! On the left side we have actor Rashid Khan and Geeta Bali (leaning on the car). On the right side we see playback singer Mohammed Rafi (who sang for Guru Dutt in most of his films), Guru Dutt and Geeta sitting down. What a lovely pic with smiles all over!

Geeta Dutt Bharat Vyas and Kishore Kumar

Geeta Dutt , lyricist Bharat Vyas and Kishore Kumar recording for a song.

Geeta Dutt during a recording in London at BBC radio station

Geeta Dutt during a recording in London at BBC radio station, indicating her popularity!

Shyama Guru Dutt Geeta Dutt

Geeta sang some amazing songs for Geeta Bali and Shyama, even before they acted in Guru Dutt’s films. Here is a pic of Shyama , Guru Dutt and Geeta Dutt.

Mukul Roy and Geeta Dutt

Geeta rehearsing a song with her brother composer Mukul Roy.

Geeta Dutt singing

Geeta Dutt singing in some musical concert.

Mohd Rafi O P Nayyar Geeta Dutt
Composer O P Nayyar gave Geeta some of her most popular and melodious songs. Here we see Mohd Rafi and Geeta Dutt with him during the recording of one of such songs. Incidentally, among her duets, Geeta sang maximum (more than 160) songs with the one and only one Mohd Rafi.

Geeta Dutt with Lata and Raj Kapoor

Composer duo Shankar Jaikishen did not work much with Geeta Dutt for some unknown reasons. Here is a rare pic of Geeta singing for them for a Raj Kapoor film along with RK himself and Lata Mangeshkar. The song “Hum bhi hai, tum bhi ho” is a group song with Mukesh, Mahendra Kapoor, Manna Dey and chorus for the film Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960).

Geeta Dutt reading a magazine

Geeta Dutt reading a magazine dedicated to music!

Geeta Dutt in her kitchen

A singer, a proud mother and a good cook too! Geeta Dutt in her kitchen in a rare photo!

Geeta Dutt posing for a cassette cover

Geeta Dutt posing for a cassette cover, what a grace and poise this lady has. Wow!

Geeta Dutt and Mohd Rafi during recording of duet from Pyaasa

Geeta Dutt and Mohd Rafi during recording of duet “Hum aap ki aankhon mein” from Pyaasa (1957).

Geeta Dutt S D Burman Guru Dutt

A rare pic of the mentor S D Burman with his protege Geeta and her husband Guru Dutt, taken at the premier of the film Kaagaz Ke Phool.

Geeta Dutt and Mohd Rafi in London

Geeta Dutt and Mohd Rafi in London staying at a family’s place. The smile on her face is so radiant!

Geeta Dutt with Talat Mahmood

Geeta Dutt with co-singer Talat Mahmood, the photo taken in a car.

Geeta Dutt Guru Dutt with their pet and Neena

Geeta Dutt Guru Dutt with their pet and daughter Neena.

Geeta Dutt seeing photo of Guru Dutt

Geeta Dutt seeing photo of Guru Dutt after his untimely death in 1964.

Geeta Dutt with Neena

Geeta Dutt with Neena.

Geeta Dutt acting in Bengali film Badhu Baran

Geeta Dutt acting in Bengali film Badhu Baran with Pradeep Kumar and Raakhi.

K Asif, Meena Kumari and Geeta Dutt in 1969

Movie Mughal K Asif, Meena Kumari and Geeta Dutt in the year 1969. The party was hosted by Asif when he re-started the shooting of his film “Love and God”. This film had Guru Dutt as the leading star earlier. After his death, Sanjeev Kumar was chosen to play the role. Young Sanjeev Kumar is also seen in the pic.

Tarun and Arun remembering their mother

Tarun and Arun remembering their mother after she left us in the year 1972.

Most of the photos used in this blog are collected from various resources on the internet including those from the book “Geeta Dutt: The Skylark” with permission from the author Haimanti Bannerji. We sincerely thank all the contributors, specially our friend Shashank Chickermane for these wonderful and rare photos of Geeta ji.

Family Tree of Geeta Dutt (nee Roy) and Guru Dutt

Monday, September 21st, 2009


With help from Haimanti Banerjee ji (the author of Geeta Dutt: The Skylark) who on our request got in touch with Geeta ji’s youngest sister Amrita, has helped us complete the family tree.

Geeta Dutt and Guru Dutt family tree

The siblings are placed in order of their birth and their nick names if any are placed in brackets. In all they were eight siblings, five brothers and three sisters.

The sister Lokkhi was attributed as Laxmi Roy in her song in Sailaab which we are looking for and was married to film maker Pramod Chakravarthy. She is alive and is based in Mumbai.

Haimanti ji also told that the eldest surviving sibling Mukul Roy is ill. We wish Mukulda a speedy recovery.

She also told that Geeta ji’s brother Pavitra (Bishu) was a tabla player and was the one who used to normally accompany Geeta ji in functions. He worked for Air India. He was the first of the siblings to pass away. The two eldermost brothers are also no more.

She also told that Milan Roy Chaudhary the youngest brother lives in USA (Kansas) and was sent to the USA by Geeta ji only.

The youngest sister Amrita lives in Nasik like Mukulda.

Heartiest thanks to Amrita ji for all the information and Haimanti ji for conveying it to us!


Thanks to Tapati Dutta and Sounak Gupta, we now have a version of the family tree with photos for your viewing pleasure:-

Family Tree of Geeta ji