30 April 2013

His Master's Voice-20

Geetā Dutt born Geetā Ghosh Roy Chowdhuri) (23 November 1930 – 20 July 1972) was a prominent singer in India, born in Faridpur before Partition. She found particular prominence as a playback singer in Hindi cinema. She also sang many modern Bengali songs. Geeta Ghosh Roy Chowdhuri was one of 10 children born in the rich Zamindar family of Debendranath Ghosh Roy Chowdhary and Amiya Devi, at Faridpur in Bengal, British India, now in Bangladesh. Her family shifted to Calcutta in early forties, leaving behind their land and properties. In 1942, her parents shifted again to an apartment in Dādar, Bombay. Geeta was only twelve at that time and continued her schooling at the Bengali High School.

K. Hanuman Prasad took Geeta under his patronage, trained and groomed her in singing and later launched her into singing in the movies. In 1946, she got the first break when she got an opportunity to sing in mythological film Bhakta Prahlad (1946) for which Prasad was the music director. She was given only two lines to sing in the movie for a few songs. She was just sixteen at that time. But those two lines mesmerized everyone in the recording studio.

During Geeta's recording of songs for the movie Baazi, she met the movie's young and upcoming director, Guru Dutt. Their romance culminated in marriage on 26 May 1953. Geeta went on to sing some of her best songs in his movies while continuing to sing in various other assignments as well. Geeta and Guru Dutt had three children: Tarun (b. 1954), Arun (b. 1956), and Ninā (b. 1962). In 1957, Guru Dutt launched a movie, Gauri, with Geeta as its singing star. It was to be India's first movie in Cinemascope, but the project was shelved after only a few days of shooting. By then, their marriage was on the rocks, Guru Dutt had got romantically involved with Waheeda Rehman, and Geeta had taken to drinking. The breakup of their marriage affected Geeta's singing career.

In 1958, S.D. Burman had developed discord with Lata Mangeshkar as a playback singer, and he attempted to work with Geeta as the main singer of his compositions rather than the upcoming Asha Bhosle, who, he felt, was relatively raw. However, out of her personal problems, Geeta would not practice her art sufficiently, and failed to meet Burman's demanding standards. (He, and O.P. Nayyar too, then started to work with Asha and helped her blossom as a singer.) In 1964, Guru Dutt died from a combination of alcohol and an overdose of sleeping pills. (His death was widely perceived as a suicide following two earlier attempts.) Geeta then suffered a serious nervous breakdown, and also ran into financial problems. She tried to resume her singing career, cutting discs at Durgā Pujā, and giving stage shows. She also performed in a leading role in a Bengali movie, Bhadu Bharan (1967), and sang admirably for a movie, Anubhav (1971), which turned out to her final performance to the music of Kanu Roy as she died of liver cirrhosis in 1972, at the age of 41.

She is supposed to have sung over 1200 songs in Hindi films. In addition she has also sung songs in many Indian regional languages including Marathi, Bengali, Maithili, Bhojpuri and Punjabi.She has also sung in Nepali evergreen movie "Maitighar" Some of the memorable songs sung under S.D. Burman's direction. Geeta died of cirrhosis of the liver on 20 July 1972.

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