A world slightly away from mainstream films was the world of action, stunt, thriller, religious, costume drama, fantasy, historical films. Geeta Dutt nee Roy was amongst the favorite singers of many of these composers.
On the birth anniversary of Geeta Dutt, the Queen of Bhaav Gayaki, Parag Sankla explores her lesser heard gems from the repertoire of four music directors Hansraj Behl, Chitragupt, Bulo C Rani and Avinash Vyas.
Bulo C Rani
(6 March 1920 – 24 March 1993)
Bulo C Rani was born in Hyderabad, Sindh province, British India (now in Pakistan) on 6 May 1920. His birth name was Bulo Chandiram Ramchandani. He joined Ranjit Movietone in the year 1939 and is considered to be one of the pillars of Ranjit. He worked as assistant to two great composers namely Khemchand Prakash and Gyan Dutt and even sang a few songs in the early forties.
It seems like Bulo C Rani had a special fascination for fuller voices, which were capable of more expressive power. Probably, for the same reason, he was able to create a great impact on listeners with the voices of Amirbai, Zohrabai, Mukesh, Geeta Roy and Khursheed.
Between 1947 and 1965, Geeta sang as many as seventy-five songs for Bulo C Rani. About forty of these songs came in just three years (1948 to 1950). It clearly demonstrates the amount of trust this maestro composer had in the talented young singer. It goes without saying that the songs from the film Jogan (1950) are the most famous from this duo.
A year before Jogan, Bulo C Rani created a sort of record by composing all the twelve songs for the film Darogaji in the voice of Geeta Roy. The film was produced by Nargis’s mother Jaddan Bai under Nargis Art banner. The story was around a flower vendor girl, Nargis, who is silently in love with the inspector general of the village, played by dashing hero P Jairaj. It had all kinds of songs (playful, pleading, sad, romantic, dance based etc) and perfect pairing of fresh voice of Geeta with natural acting by Nargis. Kotwal daroga apna ke ab dar kaahe ka mohe is a very naughty playful song from this film. Geeta’s voice could turn so youthful and natkhat in song like Jwaniya nigodi sataaye, ghoonghat mora khul khul jaaye.
And then we have romantic songs like Apne sajan ke man mein samayi re and Mori tujhse ulajh gayi ankhiyan. The flower vendor song where Nargis is singing into buying her flowers Le jaa le jaa le jaa baabu yeh meri nishani once again proves that there is much more to Geeta Roy than Mera sundar sapna beet gaya and here we are talking of 1949, much before the so called “transition” in Baazi happened.
Ghoonghat Ke Pat Khol re (Jogan, 1950) – Bulo C Rani / Meera Bhajan / Geeta Dutt
The mere mention of Bulo C Rani is equivalent to talk about the Ranjit Movietone classic Jogan (1950). The music of this film, in a nutshell, is a Geeta paradise. It’s one of the single biggest assembly of Geeta beauties one can ever come across – 12 out of impressive count of 15 are in her voice, and 10 out of these 12 are solos (the other two are with a chorus and a ‘Male Voice’ respectively). Six of these songs are Meera bhajans (not surprising, since the movie is about lady monk), set beautifully to tune by Bulo C Rani, and it seems like Geeta was born to sing them. Every song in this Ranjit classic is a treasure-one could well spend a long time discussing nothing but this soundtrack.
The music of the film Jogan (1950) was a major landmark in Bulo’s career. His composing skill enabled him to enhance the inherent charm of Meerabai’s traditional bhajans such as Ghoonghat Ke Pat Khol re / Main to giridhar ke ghar jaaoon / Damag damag dole naiya and Jogi mat ja, mat ja’ It would not be inappropriate to say that more than Dilip Kumar and Nargis in the film it was Bulo’s music which turned out to be the real star. Young Geeta, who was barely in her late teens put her heart and soul in these songs and made them immortal. It is hard to imagine how a young girl from East Bengal, migrated to Mumbai, having no formal training in music has rendered so much of devotion and depth in these songs.
Ari main to prem deewani (Jogan, 1950) – Bulo C Rani / Meera Bhajan / Geeta Dutt
Each and every song from this film is evergreen gem, each of them is a masterpiece in its own. In fact, the bhajan Mat ja mat ja jogi was the most favorite of Geeta Dutt herself. In the early 1957 while selecting the ten best songs that she has sung, Geeta Dutt made a mention of this.
Another genre of songs where Geeta and Bulo C Rani excelled was comic romantic songs with invariably G M Durrani being the male singer. Take the song Puraane chaahnewaalon se kyun aankhen churaate ho from the film Nazare (1949) for example. This is a fun-filled chhed-chaad song with veteran singer Shamshad Beghum joining the fun. Another pair of lovely comic songs is Dil-e-beqaraar..humse thoda thoda pyaar and Yeh pyaar ki raatein from an obscure film Baghdad (1952). The first one has the pairing of Geeta-Durrani and then Talat joins them in the second one.
Yeh pyaar ki raatein (Baghdad, 1952) – Bulo C Rani / RMA Khan / Geeta Dutt and GM Durrani
Tu joh mere pyaar ki khichadi pakaayega from Nirmal (1952) is one of the ultimate comic songs ever created. Durrani and Geeta simply excel through this very delightful and sweet song with references to Khichdi and Halwa. Once again in Baadshah Salaamat (1956), we have Geeta singing Dil ke darwaaze pe hui khatkhat with Durrani and Zarra dekh idhar with Mohd Rafi. In the song Joru ne nikaala hain diwaala mere ghar ka Geeta, Rafi and A R Oza are having great fun. For another obscure film titled Black Tiger (1960), there is this lovely comic song Oh meri gaadi kaun kehta hain khataari with Mohd Rafi. Many of these songs were situational and filmed on comedians in the film. With the invention of Internet we can at least listen to these lighthearted gems.
Be it a sad song (Dukhon mein joh muskura rahe the – Garibi, 1949), devotional song (Raghubir din dayaal – Jai Hanuman, 1948), playful number (Sitamgar sitamgar – Magroor, 1950) or romantic song (Mast chaandni jhoom rahi hai – with Mukesh – Pyaar ki Baatein, 1951), the melody and charm in these songs are truly remarkable.
Having once enjoyed the position of prominence, the lack of assignments and recognition left Bulo C Rani restless and frustrated. All that was left for him were memories of the glory days. The last song that Geeta sang for him was Ek dil thaa meraa, joh tera ho gaya for the film Chhupa Rustam (1965), most likely recorded much earlier. Three songs sung by Geeta from his film Aap ke Liye are almost impossible to find since the film was un-released. One of the greatest composers of the golden era committed suicide by self-immolation and passed away in 1993 but will always live in the hearts of music lovers through his immortal score of Jogan.
(21 July 1912 – 20 August 1984)
His full name was Avinash Anandrai Vyas and he was born in the city of Ahmedabad. He came to Bombay (now Mumbai) at the age of 27-28 and got associated with Ustad Allaudin Khan. Being a talented musician, he soon became a freelance instrumentalist with HMV and Young India record labels. His first record may have been issued as early as 1940 itself, and his compositions began to be aired on AIR.
It was during this phase that Avinash Vyas met and befriended the tabla maestro Ustad Alla Rakha. He got his first break in filmdom with his new friend. The two jointly composed the music for the 1943 film Mahasati Ansuya. Avinash Vyas’s debut film as a solo composer was Lehri Badmash, a stunt film.
Avinash Vyas got his big break in Gujarati films with Gunsundari (1948). He wrote lyrics and composed music for this film. This was a social drama based on the famous maha-granth Saraswatichandra. It was a musical super-hit. Avinash Vyas, the main singer in the film Geeta Roy and the heroine Nirupa Roy became a celebrity overnight in Gujarati-speaking areas of Mumbai and of course, Gujarat.
Young Geeta Roy sang four solos for him in this film. Her two solos Aaj maarii naNadii e mheNu.n maaryu.n (my sister-in law hit me today) and Have thoDaa thoDaa thaav varaNaagii, o bhaabhii tame (oh sister-in-law please become a little fashionable) became huge super hits.
The film was also made (probably dubbed) in Hindi but here Avinash Vyas had to share the credits with Bulo C Rani. Almost every Hindi song was made using the tune of the original Gujarati song. Geeta sang three songs for the Hindi version but only one (Bhabhi O Bhabhi Badlo Thoda Thoda Rang – copy of Have thoda thoda thaav) was credited to Avinash Vyas.
The same year two more Gujarati films, Nanand Bhaujai and Vaarasdaar had music and lyrics by Avinash Vyas. Geeta sang as many as six songs for the first film and sang a duet with actress Nalini Jaywant for the second film. Nanand Bhaujai was again remade in Hindi in 1949 but now all the songs were credited to Bulo C Rani. Geeta sang five songs for the Hindi version.
The year 1949 saw collaboration of Avinash Vyas and young Geeta Roy reaching its pinnacle with the release of as many as four films and eighteen songs getting created. The music of Mangal Phera became super hit with its Garba song (taaliyon naa taale) and devotional song (raakh na ramkadaa ne) gaining huge popularity. These two songs turned out to be her most popular songs in Gujarati and subsequently S D Burman and N Dutta took inspirations from these songs creating Dekh ke akeli mohe and Tora manwaa kyun ghabaraaye re respectively. In summary, even before recording songs for a Hindi film, this MD-Singer combo had created magic in Gujarati films in just two years.
Avinash Vyas is one of the few composers who are equally adept and prolific lyricists. This raises an interesting thought about the creative process. Whether the words came first or the tune may be moot in his case, since the two probably evolve together in one creator’s mind. Perhaps this is the reason his lyrics are always very well suited to the music. This is a very unique aspect of Avinash-ji’s career in Gujarati.
Arguably one of the biggest hits of Avinash Vyas’s career came in the form of another religious film titled Har Har Mahadev the very next year. It had Trilok Kapoor and Nirupa Roy in the leading roles. Geeta became the “audio Goddess” for the “screen Goddess” Nirupa Roy. Avinash Vyas composed as many as eight songs for his favorite singer Geeta in this film. Her songs like Kankar kankar se main poonchhoo Shankar mera kahaa hain, Gun gun gun gun gunjan karta bhanvra and Shiv Shankar bhole bhaale became huge hits. Whenever we think of Avinash Vyas and Geeta, this is the first film that comes to the mind. The same year another religious film Bheemsen was released which had four songs by Geeta.
Runjhun runjhun chali jaoon main (Har Har Mahadev, 1950) – Avinash Vyas / Ramesh Shastri / Geeta Dutt
In addition to these Hindi film songs, the year 1950 saw this MD-Singer combo creating as many as fifteen songs in Gujarati for three films. Her devotional song naath tamaare saa.nj savaare thoDu.n laDataa rahevu.n from the film Gaada No Bel became a huge hit. Avinash Vyas re-used the same tune for the song Deh ka pinjra tod ke chal mann praneshwar ke paas for the film Raam Janma (1951) again sung by his favorite singer, Geeta Roy.
In the coming years, Geeta continued to sing for Avinash Vyas for religious films like Dashaavtaar, Shri Vishnu Bhagawan, Rajrani Damayanti, Shiv Shakti and Veer Arjun.
Geeta sang a kind of seductive song Lo Piyo Liyo Amrit Aaj Pilane Aayi for Shri Vishnu Bhagawan and an out and out devotional rendition of Jai Jagdish Hare for the film Dashaavtaar. For the social film Adhikaar (1954), Geeta sang Kamaata hoon bahut kuchh par, one of her most memorable duets with singing star Kishore Kumar. In a rare instance, Avinash Vyas displayed his comic flavor in this song. Even though pitted against Kishore, the king of comic songs, Geeta sang her part to perfection.
Aaj nahin toh kal (Naagmani, 1957) – Avinash Vyas / Kavi Pradeep / Geeta Dutt
The last major outing of Geeta with Avinash Vyas in Gujarati films was for the film Naag Devta (1955) where she sang as many as five songs. Chham chham payaal dheere karu chham, and Oh rang rasiyaa became very popular. In the coming years, though relatively lesser in numbers, Geeta continued to sing for Avinash Vyas for his religious films in Hindi (Mahapooja, Ekaadashi) and stunt films (Riyaasat, Neelofar).
Avinash Vyas composed two philosophical gems for the film Naag Mani (1957) penned by Kavi Pradeep and it had to be his favorite singer, Geeta (now Dutt) to infuse life in them. Aaj nahin toh kal and Toone khoob rachaa bhagwaan khilauna maati ka can easily be considered among her best songs.
Geeta sang about 54 songs in Gujarati and 51 songs in Hindi for Avinash Vyas, making him the composer with most songs for her. Even though, a fairly large proportion of Avinash Vyas’s work in Hindi was from religious films, his compositions were mostly high quality with a strong emphasis on melody. With a natural and versatile singer like Geeta to give them justice, it is no wonder these songs are immortal melodies to cherish.
Acknowledgements: I sincerely thank Arunkumar Deshmukh ji, Kalyan Kolachala, Chetan Vinchhi and Mahesh Sagar. Their articles and song listings have been used as a reference in this tribute. Thanks to Lakshmi Priya for the wonderful photo showing Geeta ji with the four composers. Thanks to Romesh Kumar Vohra ji and Aditya Pant for the song listings database. I thank Archana Gupta for reviewing this article and providing nice suggestions.
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