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Geeta Dutt: the queen of mellifluous voice

Enkayaar, Bollywood Trade News Network
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Had she not fallen prone to severe drinking, which consumed her life owing to cirrhosis of the liver, Geeta Dutt's repertoire of songs would have been awesome and on her birthday today it would have been very difficult to select few songs from her oeuvre to play them out. Even then, the numerical strength of her renditions may be small, the qualitative-ness of her songs still make it appear that she has held sway over the female crooning till the time she was alive. The feeling of fresh air that her songs of verve used to communicate was symptomatic of the style of her effortless rendition. Such was the ease that she brought to her songs that she had emerged as the potential threat to Lata Mangeshkar.

She was one of the quintessential singers who could capitalize on her subtle nasal touch in the rendition to turn it into an advantageous position and make it her USP. The verve and the panache that Madhubala was able to express through her movies owed largely to the voice over provided by Geeta Dutt. The "Aaeeye Meherban" from HOWRAH BRIDGE is still considered one of the foremost songs to serenade a lover, or for that matter "Achchaji main haari chalo maan jayo na", of KAALA PAANI. The whole song from innocence to despair conveys the emotion succinctly in just three minutes to be precise. Or for that matter the songs that were picturised in KAALA BAZAAR on Waheeda Rehman, "Sach huye sapne tere", or “Saanjh Dhale Dil ki lagi”. Suchitra Sen never conveyed the effervescence of a bubbly teenager with the same enthusiasm, but when Geeta Dutt sang for her, "Dekhne mein Bhola hai”.

When she fell in love with Guru Dutt, it gave a new meaning to her singing career, as she started getting an opportunity to give the voice over to heroines, and she came out of the image of being a bhajan singer. As the love blossomed so did her singing career. A new meaning was given to her career when S.D. Burman and O.P. Nayyar chose her and they gave her voice a new dimension. She literally evolved through the films of Guru Dutt. Both these master composers exploited the lilt in her voice, which was a by-product of Bengali singing, to the hilt. The ease with which she could flow into a westernized song, and a classical effervescent song seeped in Punjabi beats, was her USP. While S.D. Burman used her mostly for Indian variety, O.P. Nayyar experimented with her voice for more westernized and hep songs.

As her career evolved with Guru Dutt, and as her voice gained octaves, it started missing the nodes and interludes, when Guru Dutt started falling in love with Waheeda Rehman. Two songs one from PYAASA, "Aaj Sajan Mohe ang lagalo", and "Na Jao Saiyan Chuda ke bahiyan", of SAHIB BIWI AND GHULAM epitomized the journey that Geeta Dutt had traversed in her life. The song from SAHIB BIWI AUR GHULAM, which conceptualized the image of Meena Kumari as an inebriated heroine, had more to do with the pathos that Geeta Dutt could bring into the composition through her voice. The pain of the voice breaking in the interludes was a pain of the heart that was also breaking up slowly-slowly.

Probably genius people are consumed this way and they pass on to the ether world, but leave behind melodies that even after fifty years are as refreshing as they were in the time they made the debut.

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