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Moments with ‘Geetu Pishi’ – Remembering Geeta Dutt

November 23, 2015 | By

Legendary singer Geeta Dutt’s nephew Ashis Basu recounts some golden moments spent with ‘Geetu Pishi’.

Geeta Dutt - the voice that is balm to the soul.

Geeta Dutt – the voice that is balm to the soul.

By Ashis Basu as told to Tapati Dutta

This little memoir about the legendary singer Geeta Dutt was shared by Ashis Basu, the son of Geeta Dutt’s cousin brother. For all of us, Geeta Dutt will always be our beloved Geetu Pishi (father’s sister) and the memories attached with her will be cherished. 

During one of Geetu Pishi’s trips to Kolkata, she came to visit our favourite Jethu (father’s elder brother), Dr Monoranjan Basu* at his dispensary at Russa Rd opposite Tollygunge Police Station.  She was accompanied by one Mr Walwalkar, a nice man who was close to the Roy family of Bombay but stayed at Kolkata. Apart from Geetu Pishi, there was another young man with them wearing a spotless white kurta pyjama.

Jethu and I were about to visit the Durga Puja pandal of Ulpur Sammilani, whose governing body had a very high regard for Jethu.  Mr Walwalkar introduced the young man to us, “Dada this is a young artiste from Pune and his name is Bhimsen Joshi.” Even Geetu Pishi had some nice words to say about the young man. Little did we know then that this lad would be a future Bharat Ratna.

Geeta Dutt, Guru Dutt, Geeta Bali

On the sets of Baaz, 1953 (Sitting in the front row L to R) Geeta Dutt, Guru Dutt, Yeshwant, a young Abrar Alvi, Geeta Bali. Standing behind Geeta Bali is her costar Yashodra Katju. Standing behind Geeta Dutt is Haridarshan Kaur, Geeta Bali’s sister who was also known as Bibiji among the crew of Baaz. (Yeshwant is the husband of Haridarshan Kaur)

During another visit of hers to Calcutta, a musical function was arranged at the Chowringhee and Harrington street crossing. The famous film producer Hemen Chowdhury invited all leading film stars and singing stars to the event. Apart from Geetu Pishi, the other singers participating in the event were Hemant Kumar,  Mohd Rafi, Mukesh and C.H. Atma.

It was customary that a male person would accompany each female artist for the occasion. Guru Dutt’s youngest brother Vijay used to stay in Calcutta and it was assumed that he would be the right person to accompany her to the concert.

Mujhko tum jo mile yeh jahan mil gaya (Detective, 1958) – Mukul Roy / Shailendra / Geeta Dutt and Hemant Kumar. The music of Detective was composed by Geeta Dutt’s brother Mukul Roy.

But I got a call from Geetu Pishi that I would have to escort her for the evening and I have to wear a suit! Since I didn’t have any such formal suit during my college days, I borrowed one from a friend and went to the Grand Hotel to meet her. From there we went to the venue where the concert had been organised.

When Geetu Pishi entered the the greenroom backstage, along with Hemantda, the cacophony and hustle bustle going on there suddenly stopped. Johny Walker, the comedian, offered a seat to her. It was only later that I learned how close Johny Walker was to Guru Dutt.

Talat Mahmood, KN Singh, Geeta Dutt and Guru Dutt

Geeta Dutt and Guru Dutt with Mukul Roy (standing behind Geeta Dutt), Talat Mahmood (sitting far left), actor KN Singh in the middle and others. The Sikh brothers composer Sardul Kwatra MD and producer H S Kwatra can be seen at the back.

Just after their marriage Guru Dutt and Geetu Pishi had come to our home for lunch. My parents had attended their marriage at Bombay. My mother was quite a popular Boudi (Bhabhi) in their house. Anyway, as soon as they arrived my father pushed an out-of-tune old harmonium towards Geetu Pishi asking her, in fact commanding her to sing a song. My mother wasn’t too keen about it and could well understand Geetu Pishi’s predicament. Enjoying the whole episode, Guru Dutt was relaxing on the bed and did nothing to save Geetu Pishi. Geetu Pishi saw there was no escape and she sang one Bengali song and got away with it.

I am not sure whether these small episodes are worth publishing for the public. But they are precious to me and to all of us in the family.

* Monoranjan Basu is Tapati Dutta’s father.
The pictures used in this article are courtesy Ashis Basu.

More to read

The Queen of Bhaav Gayaki – Geeta Dutt

The Language Versatility of Geeta Dutt – A Rare Depth of Feeling

Eternal Wait: The Story Of The Dark Girl By The Meghna (Geeta Dutt)

Geeta Dutt – The Skylark Who Sang From The Heart

Tapati Dutta is the niece of legendary singer Geeta Dutt. She retired as deputy education officer at Kolkata Municipal Corporation and spends her time listening to music, reading and travelling. She lives in Kolkata and visits her daughter in Houston often.
All Posts of Tapati Dutta

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5 thoughts on “Moments with ‘Geetu Pishi’ – Remembering Geeta Dutt

  • Dee Thakore

    Just to add, Bhimsen Joshi was born in 1922 and Geetaji in 1930, and they thought of him as young artist? lol… I think it’s kind of amusing, that’s all 🙂 Praising Bhimsenji it shows that she had a big heart for other artists. She never showed such classlessness towards other artists.
    She had a style, all her own, respectful and pure.
    Lastly, even if she was alive today, and she had never sang another tune in her life she still accomplished more than most in the music business.

  • Ashis Basu

    I have already made an explanatory note in reply to comment made by Dee Thakore. Since it appears to have been lost in transit, I am repeating my views again. Yes D. Thakore you are indeed right that Pt Bhimsen Joshi was 8 yrs senior to Geeta Dutt. But I mentioned about the incident which happened in early fifties probably 1953/54,by which time Geeta Dutt’s name was well established.

    On the other hand though Pt Joshi’s earliest public show was in 1946 at Pune, his name and fame was not so much pronounced at least in Kolkata. Pt Joshi really established his credentials much later more towards the end of that decade when I also like many others at Kolkata became an ardent fan of him. However the small episode I mentioned in my write-up is absolutely true and I distinctly remember it even till this day.

  • Dr Mohammed Rahman ( Resident in UK , born in Bangladesh)

    I have been living in the UK for many years, a Medical doctor by profession. I am a very keen music lover and try to sing in my friend’s circle now & then. Geeta Dutt has always been my favourite singer and often listen to her Bengali and Hindi songs. I am told by different people that her family was from Bangladesh but to my amazement I have never come across a mention anywhere that her family came from Bangladesh. Is it something you thought that it will dampen herstatus in the eyes of the rest of the people in Asian subcontinent. However , thank you .

    1. Sounak

      Dear Dr. Rahman,

      Nearly all biographical articles on Geeta Dutt do mention that her family belonged to (and even she was born in) the Faridpur district of undivided Bengal. Why should that have something to with her status as an artist? She is revered across the globe.

      This article is based on the author’s personal memories of Geeta Dutt. The mention of where her family hailed from, perhaps wasn’t relevant here. The author didn’t live in Fairdpur. Neither did Geeta Dutt, during the times when the author saw her.

      Please refer to the several articles we have on her right here in our magazine here – each one mentions her ancestral roots:

      Geeta Dutt – The Skylark Who Sang From The Heart

      Geeta Dutt – The Singer with the Golden Heart

      Eternal Wait: The Story Of The Dark Girl By The Meghna (Geeta Dutt)

      Hope you will enjoy these heartfelt tributes to Geeta ji. 😊🙏

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