Meena Kapoor may not have had an extremely prolific output (as far as Hindi film music is concerned), but she voiced a number of beautiful songs which hold their own against any other singer. She was related to P. C. Barua (director of K. L. Saigal’s Devdas). Meena’s talent as a singer was discovered by composer Ninu Mujumdar in the 40s who thought she was an outstanding singer. Her first recorded song was for his movie 'Pul' however her first released songs were for S.D. Burman's second film Eight Days(1946).
She was still in school when these songs were recorded. In an interview, She recalled that Burman Dada was very well acquainted with her father (New Theatres actor Bikram Kapoor). He would always say to her father ‘Bikram, this girl has such a beautiful voice, you are spoiling her voice. You should let her sing in films’. ‘But Dada,” her father would protest, “she’s still in school, she has her exams how can I have her sing for film?’. ‘Oh come on, one film will not do any harm!’ he would retort. It was probably the outcome of a similar conversation that led to her singing for him finally.
She sang about 125 songs in her short career.
The beautiful 'Rasiya re man basiya rey' from Pardesi (1957), Mori Atariya Pe Kaaga Bole from Aankhen (1950), Ek Dharti Hai Ek Hi Gagan from Adhikar (1954) and “Kuchh aur zamana kehta hai” from Chhoti Chhoti Baatein (1965) are some an immortal numbers sung by her. It is sad to note that She didn't get more songs mostly due to non-musical reasons inspite of having a lovely voice. Infact, According to Meena Kapoor,MD Sajjad Hussain was so impressed with Meenaji's singing and voice during her recordings for Lajwanti(1950s),that He would chide Lataji to learn something from this little girl! She was married to the music composer Anil Biswas.
Geeta Dutt and Meena Kapoor shared a great personal friendship and that friendship endured throughout the trials and tribulations of Geeta Dutt's life. Meena Kapoor recently wrote an article for the Swar Alaap magazine cherishing her close association with dear friend, the one and only Geeta Dutt.
It is a charming reminiscence of a profound friendship; not as much about one great singer remembering another as it is one childhood friend remembering another.
Their friendship dates back to the year 1952, when Meena Kapoor had to sing a duet with Geeta Roy for a film called ‘Ghayal,’ which had music by Gyan Dutt. Geeta was very much impressed with Meena Kapoor’s Bengali. By the time the rehearsal was over, both had already become very friendly with each other.
Wavelengths matched, minds clicked and friendship blossomed. So much so, that Geetaji used to send Meenaji’s car back home with the driver and make Meenaji sit in her car to drop her home while chit-chatting their way through, and vice versa.
She was a very affable and gregarious person, full of zeal and indefatigable energy. While not recording, often she would appear at Meenaji’s door and plan for an impromptu picnic. Company? She would have already roped in her (Meena’s) mother and the choir girls!
Meena ji described those ‘impromptu’ picnics at Powai, Vihar Lake, or National Park as some of the most enjoyable moments of her life. By now, Geeta and Meena had become very close friends.
Immediately after Baazi in 1951, one fine morning, Geeta introduced Guru Dutt to Meena Kapoor. She was witness all through as Guru Dutt courted Geeta. From going all the way to Khandala just to have coffee, to fishing at Powai Lake, to outdoor shootings at China creek, a favorite spot of Guru Dutt, till the day when Geeta got married to Guru Dutt ceremoniously.
Meena Kapoor stayed with Geeta at her place, seven days ahead of the marriage ceremony which was to be held on the 26th of May, 1953. She enchantingly recalled Geeta as looking a very beautiful bride and Guru Dutt looking a typical Bengali groom.
Though they never sang another duet after ‘Ghayal’, they remained good friends. Meena Kapoor dolefully remembered Geeta’s troubled married life and how her career started going down after delivering hits like ‘Na Jao Saiyyan’ and ‘Koi Door Se Aawaz De’ under Hemant Kumar’s baton in the 1962 Guru Dutt, Meena Kumari starrer, ‘Sahin Bibi Aur Ghulam’.
In 1963 Meena Kapoor left Bombay (now Mumbai) with husband, music director Anil Biswas, as he was called by the I&B Ministry in Delhi to work as the Director, Indian Music, All India Radio. A few years later Meena Kapoor met Geeta Dutt, who had come to sing for some music concert, and was shocked to see an altogether changed Geeta!
She was perturbed over the uneventful ‘gaps’ in Geeta’s career, 1964 onwards, and grieved the death of her closest friend, who lost her life to Cirrhosis of liver, on 20th of July 1972 in the article.
Meena Kapoor wrote, what may very well be the essence of this marvelous relation called friendship, “I hate to add the word 'Late'. For me it was my friend Geeta who was no more. Even now I can hear her singing on the radio ‘Jaayenge kahan soojhta nahin, Chal diye magar raasta nahin’. The soul never dies and my friend Geeta's voice will never die”
They first sang together for the film Aadhi raat (1950) directed by Hansraj Behl. 'Maine baalam se poochha miloge kahan' is a sweet and bold song. In this song, Meena Kapoor does the most of the solo singing where as Geeta leads the chorus with “Ho la lala he lala la”.
Another duet ( Aayi milne ki raat) from the same year comes under the baton of Sardul Kwatra for the movie Jalte Deep.
Another film that had them singing together was Ghayal (1951) where Gyan Dutt directed the music. The two of them shared three songs, of which two were trios with G.M. Durrani. Geeta Dutt and Meena Kapoor also recorded a non-film song together, called 'Jaa ri laadli'. It is very difficult to obtain the audios of most of these songs. Their only non-film song "Ja Ri Laadli" is also untraceable.
Similar is the case for a seven minute song recorded by them with Mubarak Begum, Mile Dil Aankh Sharmaayi for composer Mohd Shafi recorded for the movie Hulchul(1951) which was not released on records. We are looking for the movie vhs to see if it has the song.
The two singers will always be remembered as the best friends rather than co-singers!