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(1930 - 1972)

Imagine a duet combination which is joy, warmth, lilt, sentiment, sensuality and a thousand other flavours all rolled into one. A combination that like a warm butter cube melting into a sumptuous pav bhaji yields spark, tanginess, heat and a nice dose of masala. A combination that rivals the sweetness that comes when thick condensed milk, velvetty cocoa, a thousand nuts and the loveliest thick sugary syrup one can get combine in a factory to produce the most delectable chocolate there can be. Two voices that are same-same but different. Why just their voices, there lives too sometimes echo the same sentiment. And, why not? Both are the original voices. Two voices whose nectar was probably collected by the bees of God's garden. Sometimes, I wonder were they mere mortals? I have a sneaky feeling both were probably two of the most beautiful Apsaras in Heaven, sent back for committing a small mistake, perhaps. How else can one explain this heady combo of talent, beauty, grace, charm and unfortunately a life of tragedy to go with it. A thousand voices pop inside my mind and reiterate, yes it must be so.

These two Apsaras I talk about are like I said above same-same but different. Both have this unique original voice. Both have this warmth in their voice. Both can produce an emotion seeped voice in a minute and in the other give a naughty wink in their voice which amazes you. Both were groomed definitely as Apsaras by God up there. How else can one explain why they could produce magic in a minute which others can't get inspite of years of training? Yes, yes, they were sent on earth by God after rigorous training only. Not just in music, but in being great human beings too. Both are the epitomes of modesty and humility. (And both probably paid the price for it too). Both came in at a young age to fame on sheer talent alone and rose to the echelons of greatness. Unfortunately, due to the tragic hand of fate both got the "royal ignore" from the very people whom they had helped establish. Why was that so, one may wonder. Was it because the duo knew only how to sing from the heart and didn't indulge in treachery, back-stabbing and games of vice? With time their names went into their background but their memories have never left the hearts of those who not only listened to them but drowned their senses in their music.

I am of course talking about the honey-voiced duo, Rajkumari Dubey and Geeta ji. Rajkumari ji was the senior of the duo but there are many parallels between their careers. She started her career as a stage artiste. She recounted in an interview, "Vijay and Shankar Bhatt of Prakash Pictures spotted me during one of my shows. They liked my voice and persuaded me to discontinue acting on stage, as it would spoil my voice. (In those days, there were no mikes and you had to shout to be heard!) So, I quit theatre and became an employee of Prakash Pictures, as an actress and singer". With such simplicity She thus, described the starting of her filmy sojourn. Her actual debut was in the Gujarati movie, Sansaar Leela in 1934 at the tender age of ten. This was the third gujarati talkie (the first two being Narsinh Mehta and Sati Savitri which were released in 1932). She is known to have sung atleast two solos and two duets with Umakant Desai. Her hindi debut came with the Hindi version of this movie, Nai Duniya(1934). The music director for both these movies, was the stalwart, Lallubhai Nayak who was to groom her talent in this decade both for Hindi and Gujarati movies. She acted in many important movies of the period including Ramayan(1934) where she played the role of Sita, Vatan Parast alias Parveez(1934), Bambai Ki Sethani(1935), Bombay Mail(1935), Achhut(1940), Anjaam(1940), Matwaali Jogan alias A Girl From Lahore(1936), Village Girl(1936), Millionaire(1936), Nazar Ka Shikaar(1936), Pujaarin(1936), Snehlata(1936) among others and of course, the most iconic of them all, the classic Devdas(1935) where she played the role of Chandramukhi which has been reprised by many later. But, She was the first one there, acting as Sita one day and Chandramukhi on another, at will. She took up a wide variety of roles and captured many hearts including that of Mr Dubey, a businessman of UP whom she got married to. Sometime after her marriage, probably around 1941, She decided to stop acting and switched full time to playback singing since singing was her passion. She had sung for many greats like Nayak, Rao, R.C. Boral and Timir Baran during her acting years and this training cemented her place as one of the most wanted singers for over a decade. Infact, one can say that she was probably the first full time and most popular female playback singer.

A few years later, her paths crossed with an upcoming singer, Geeta Roy. They first recorded a song for composer Premnath for the movie Dehati alias Villager in 1947. This is the rarest of the rare, among their duets (Its not even mentioned in the Geet Kosh). The song is Kaise Likhogi Gori Patiyaan Balam Pardesa Tihaare. It is a song, in which one Sakhi is teasing another about her beloved being away. Rajkumari ji sings for the sakhi teasing and Geeta ji for the one being teased. Rajkumari teases Geeta ji with the starting line to which Geeta ji replies Phoolon pe likh ke bhejoongi patiyaan. Rammurthy Chaturvedi has infused lots of emotion in the song and has touched some issues of the time as well. While in beginning with above start they are merely teasing, later one comes to know why the cheering is being done, when one hears Rajkumari singing, Kaahe Nanadiya roz maare balam pardesa tihaare towards the end where Geeta ji sings, Padhi Likhi Hoti to Likh Likh Patiyaan, Baalam Ko Dukhda Sunaati, while a concerned Rajkumari sings consolingly to say, Bachchon Ko Achhe Sikhaoge Sapne Gandhi Jawahar Banaati, Nahin Jeeti Kisi Ke Sahaare. What a range of emotions and situations the song brings up. This is the best start their singing partnership could have got, with the singing talents of both singers being showcased wonderfully.

While the duo were recording this song, the other two pillars of their partnership were getting ready somewhere in the studios of bombay. Now surprised, you may ask for a duet combo from where do two more pillars come from?! But perhaps you won't be so surprised. You're well versed listeners after all. The two other pillars of any singing partnership are the lyricist and the composer. This lyricist-composer duo was to give us as many as eight rajkumari-geeta gems among themselves. The composer was under contract with some studio for music related work and was picked up by the greatest lyricist-director ever. But there was a hitch. The composer was under contract for some time and couldn't give music outside. They finally agreed to change composer's name in the credit and decided that it would be the name of the composer's own daughter. That is how the legendary Kidar Sharma ensured the debut of B.Vasudev after taking his daughter Snehal's name to become Snehal Bhatker.

The stage was set for an extravaganza called Neelkamal(1947). This movie is also known for the debuts of the evergreen Madhubala and Raj Kapoor. This movie provided a treat of as many as five songs featuring rajkumari and geeta roy together. Geeta provides good support to the veteran in all the songs.

The first one was Maa ne Bheja Dhor Charaane, a naughty song in which a cowgirl sent to graze the cows recounts meeting her lover on the sly while being teased by her friends. The way rajkumari and sakhis sing 'tu kuchh samjhi na bhai main kuchh na samjhi' is full of pure innocence. Kidar Sharma recounts the episodes very vividly the goings on of the 'jungle romance'where the cowgirl goes searching her lover and gets a 'peetal ka kangan' from him! The song mostly belongs to rajkumari like some of the others in the movie but geeta roy wonderfully complements with the chorus giving the song a lovely charm.

The next song ab kya teri marzi re, bol bol balam bedardi is the highlight of the movie. Both singers enthuse a lovely old world charm to the song. The song has the singers asking the beloved what he wants while describing the longing for him and efforts done to attract him. The song appears to be picturised (perhaps as a means to distract soldiers) while an enemy is attacking (as appears from the dialogues interspersing the song). This is a must hear for lovers of the two singers.

Mukesh joins the duo for the next song, aankh jo dekhe hai dhokha khaaye hai. He begins the song with the title lines and is then joined by the duo. The music is kept minimal and the singers carry the song on their shoulders. The song is fairly melodious and geeta gets quite a few lines to herself in the latter part of the song. A nice song but which is overshadowed by the others in the film.

he other duet, jawani agar hook dil ki dabaye, the duo's voices gel like hot honey gelling with the choicest chocolate icecream. This thoughtful song is a mini-commentary on the feelings of the protagonist and appears to be a situational one. Its saving grace is the singing duo partially.

In the fifth song the duo is joined by the debutant composer bhatker himself. The song is Brij mein dhoom macha ja oh mathura ke raja murali baja ja aa ja. The trio is dedicated to krishna and is delivered effortlessly by the singers. Its a great song to round off the songs sung by the duo. This is a song one would like to listen in those slow mornings and get charmed by the duo.

The duo next got a chance to sing for composer hari bhai for the song aap beeti. However, the song audio is not available.

We next have kidar sharma and bhatker bringing the duo back for three duets for the film suhag raat which incidentally launched the ethereal Geeta Bali. The two geetas were to become a force to reckon in a few years but in next couple of years, rajkumari ji was her default voice. Rajkumari ji used to sing specially keeping her vivaciousness in mind. All three duets are a treat for the lovers of these two artists.

The first duet is the lovely, Roomjhoom matwaale chaa gaye. The duo brings vivid imagery to their singers. When the duo sing 'roomjhoom matwaale badal chaa gaye' one gets the feeling that indeed spring has come and when they say 'balamji tohri yaad dila gaye', one indeed feels the longing for the lover. The trend continues throughout the song and is to be heard to be believed. Both singers get ample opportunity to show their talent and do full justice to the song justifying their choice by the composer.

The second song (which incidentally was on the other side of the record for first song), Baaje Mori Paayal Thunnak Thunnak Thun also follows a similar trend. When the duo sing the first line itself, Baaje mori paayal thunnak thunnak thun mohe yeh sandeswa sunaaye re and later, dekho kaliyon ne ghoonghat hataaye re, logon bhanware bides se aaye re. One can actually imagine all this happening in the back of one's mind. Ditto, when rajkumari laments, "Maine Surme se Naina Sajaaye Re Donon Haathon se Dil Hoon Dabaaye re", the voice hits you like a thunderclap instantly making the listener to feel sorry for the damsel in love. The song undoubtebly showcases the class the two singers had.

The third and final song is the final gem sung by the duo for the bhatker-kidar team. It is the fabulous, Kis paapi sang uljhi ankhiyaan haaye ankhiyaan ro ro nayan ganwaayen, kya bigde humse man basiya sapne bhi nahi aaye re. Right from the first line, the duo grab your attention, your feeling of empathy for the separated lovers and keep you mesmerised long after the song is over. The song makes one feel extremely peaceful and must be recommended playing for those looking for peace in the bhrahm muhoorat. A perfect song in almost all departments.

It is indeed a pity that we didn't have Snehal Bhatker bringing the duo again. Indeed, his career didn't take off in a big way in the later years. He was of course to use Geeta again for his swansong Chhabili many years later in 1960. One only wishes he had brought Rajkumari back from forced oblivion and had the duo charming us again. Who knows, it might have ushered in another golden period for the duo?

Both are arguably one of the best female duet partners who unfortunately got half a song again (for Maang), Aaya Achanak Aesa Jhonka, which is also not available (The other part being a geeta duet with hamida bano). Thinking of the possibilities which could have come from this duet combo, One is reminded of what was said in that great geeta gem, Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam, Tum Rahe Na Tum, Hum Rahe Na hum. A sad tragedy of time but then, we must be greatful for the short fresh breeze which their few songs did provide us. May the memory of the duo and their songs stroke the imagination of generations to come.

List of songs sung by Rajkumari with Geeta Roy(Dutt)
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Year Film Track Co-Singer Music Lyrics Remarks
1947 Dehati Kaise Likhogi Gori Patiya Balam Pardesa Tihaare - Prem Nath Rammurthy Chaturvedi -
1947 Neelkamal Maa Ne Bheja Dhor Charaane - Snehal Bhatker (B Vasudev) Kidar Sharma -
1947 Neelkamal Bol Bol Baalam Bedardi Kya Teri Marzi Re - Snehal Bhatker (B Vasudev) Kidar Sharma -
1947 Neelkamal Aankh Jo Dekhe Hai Dhokha Khaye Hai Mukesh Snehal Bhatker (B Vasudev) Kidar Sharma -
1947 Neelkamal Jawani Agar Hook Dil Ki Dabaaye - Snehal Bhatker (B Vasudev) Kidar Sharma -
1947 Neelkamal Brij Mein Dhoom Macha Ja Oh Mathura Ke Raja Snehal Bhatker Snehal Bhatker (B Vasudev) Kidar Sharma -
1948 Aap Beeti More Saiyaan Bhaye Kotwal Ab Darr Kaahe Ka - Hari Ram Hasrat Lakhnavi -
1948 Suhag Raat Roomjhoom Matwaale Baadal Chhaa Gaye, Baalam ji Tori Yaad Dilaa Gaye - Snehal Bhatker (B Vasudev) Kidar Sharma -
1948 Suhag Raat Baaje Mori Paayal Thunnak Thunnak Thhun, Suno Yeh Sandeswa - Snehal Bhatker (B Vasudev) Kidar Sharma -
1948 Suhag Raat Kis Paapi Sang Uljhi Ankhiyaan, Haaye Ankhiyaan Ro Ro Nayan Ganwaaye - Snehal Bhatker (B Vasudev) Kidar Sharma -
1950 Maang Aaya Achanak Aisa Jhonka Hind Ka Jagmag Deep Bujha (Part-2) - Ghulam Mohammed Sageer Usmaani -
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