Of the great playback singers of the golden era of Bollywood cinema, no one quite exudes the sad beauty of Geeta Dutt. Her melancholic demeanour and quivering voice reflected the personal tragedies that cemented her reputation as Bollywood’s ultimate tragic heroine.
Her turbulent marriage to director and actor, Guru Dutt, which ended with his suspected suicide in 1964, was followed by her decline into alcoholism and death from cirrhosis of the liver in 1972 at the age of 41. Although her career was cut short and her output relatively small, she recorded some of the most memorably songs of Hindi cinema as well as fine renditions of traditional Bengali songs.
These are our 5 recommended recordings by Geeta Dutt:
Tadbeer Se Bigdi Huyi Taqdeer
This song, from Guru Dutt’s 1951 directorial debut, Baazi (Gamble), was sung by Geeta Dutt for the actress Geeta Bali. It was whilst recording the soundtrack for Baazi that Geeta Ghosh Roy Chowdhuri, as she was known then, met her future husband for the first time.
Babuji Dheere Chalna (Sir, Walk Carefully)
Babuji Dheere Chalna is from the 1954 black comedy, Aar Par (This or That) directed by Geeta’s husband, Guru Dutt.
Hum Aap Ki Ankhon Mein
A 1957 duet performed by Geeta Dutt and Mohammed Rafi this song was the major hit in Guru Dutt’s most successful film, Pyaasa (Thirsty). The film depicts the romance between Guru Dutt’s struggling poet character, Vijay and his lover, a sex worker called Gulabo, played by Waheeda Rehman. Geeta Dutt provided the singing voice for Rehman, whilst Rafi voiced Guru Dutt’s character. The film marked a milestone in the deterioration of the Dutts’ marriage with suspicions of a developing relationship between Guru Dutt and his co-star, Waheeda Rehman.
Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu (My Name is Chin Chin Chu)
From the 1958 film, Howrah Bridge, Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu was the first major hit for Helen (as actor). Dutt’s vocals were very popular and resulted in a resurgance in popularity for the singer. In Howrah Bridge, Helen played Chin Chin Chu, is a dancer from Shanghai. Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu was a huge hit for composer O. P. Nayyar and proved to be one of the last great Bollywood recordings for Dutt.
Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam (What a Beautiful Tragedy Time has Wrought)
Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam was from the 1959 film Kaagaz Ke Phool (“Paper Flowers”) which was the last film to be directed by Guru Dutt. The film was a commercial disaster and it is widely seen as self-indulgently autobiographical, telling the story of the love of a great film director (played by Dutt himself) for an actress, played by Waheeda Rehman with whom he was reportedly having an affair. The tragic irony of Geeta, the jilted wife, providing the singing voice for her husband’s new lover adds a new level of emotional hardship.
Geeta Dutt’s recordings feature regularly on WaveGlobe’s weekly Bollywood Gold show.
Learn more about Geeta Dutt