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