Remembering Geeta Dutt on her 86th birth anniversary.

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Geeta Dutt (born Geetā Ghosh Roy Chowdhuri; 23 November 1930–20 July 1972) was a prominent Indian singer, born in Faridpur before the Partition of India. She found particular prominence as a playback singer in Hindi cinema. She also sang many modern Bengali songs, both in film and non-film genre.

K. Hanuman Prasad took Geeta under his patronage, trained and groomed her in singing and later launched her into singing for movies. In 1946, she got the first break with an opportunity to sing in the mythological film Bhakta Prahlad for which Prasad was the music director. She was given only two lines to sing for a few songs.

In 1947, she got her break with Do Bhai. The music of Do Bhai became a hit with “Mera sundar sapna beet gaya” topping the charts. Geeta Roy’s fresh and melodious voice combined vivacity and pathos in such a way that, despite a pronounced “Bengali lilt,” the song touched the pulse of thousands of music lovers. She was popularly nick-named “Bangal ka jadu” (the magic from Bengal). In the same film she sang the evocative “Yaad karoge, yaad karoge, ik din humko yaad karoge.” It was remarkable for a teenager to sing with such maturity.

In the same year, she sang for Hunuman Prasad’s other releases.

“Naino Ki Pyali Se Hoto Ki Madira” (Rasili)
“Neha Lagake Mukh Mod Gayaa” (Rasili)
“Aaja ri Nindiya Aaja”: a lullaby alongside the established playback singer Parul Ghosh (Nai Maa)
The uncanny ability of Geeta Dutt that made her race past her contemporaries was her unique versatility to sing any kind of song with the authentic tone, feeling, passion and emotion as demanded by the composition and the situation it was being picturised in. From a bhajan to a club song, from a haunting melancholic song to a peppy romantic number, she could traverse the range of music, seemingly effortlessly. This unique versatility helped Geeta (Roy) Dutt carve out a niche and cement her place even when the Lata Mangeshkar phenomenon was sweeping through the world of Hindi playback, following the runaway success of Aayega Aanewala in Mahal (1949). Geeta Dutt’s chart-busting “Tadbeer se bigdi hui taqdeer bana le” in Guru Dutt’s directorial debut Baazi (1951) was the turning point where “Geeta Roy’s vivacity was matched every inch by Geeta Bali on-screen”. S. D. Burman had turned a ghazal by Sahir Ludhianvi into a sensual club song much to the chagrin of the famed lyricist-poet: The ploy worked as Baazi proved a hit on the strength of that song alone.

S D Burman fully exploited Geeta’s potential across the spectrum. “Aan milo shyam saanware” (Devdas, 1955), the duet with Manna Dey, has the unmistakable touch of the Baul folk music of Bengal. “Nanhi kali sone chali” (Sujata, 1959) is one of the most popular and heart-touching lullaby ever where Geeta Dutt’s voice rings maternal love in every note. The bubbly exuberance of “Aye dil mujhe bata de” (Bhai Bhai, 1956) is in sharp contrast to the pathos of “Waqt ne kiya” in (Kaagaz Ke Phool, 1959)

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