This was not the post I’d got planned for this week. But then, when so many people commenting on my Geeta Dutt solos post began writing about Geeta Dutt duets, I decided I may as well compile my list of the Geeta Dutt duets I love the most. After all, I knew I’d do this post, sooner or later. So why not now?
Geeta Dutt’s versatility spills over into her duets too, so you’ll find here everything from seductive club songs to soul-stirring bhajans to some of the loveliest romantic songs—and more. As in my previous post (and all my song lists!), these are all songs from pre-70s films that I’ve seen. In no particular order:
1. Gumsum sa yeh jahaan yet raat yeh hawa (Duniya Jhukti Hai, 1960; with Hemant Kumar): There’s something about the voices of Geeta Dutt and Hemant which makes them fit very well together—the slightly nasal quality (more pronounced in Hemant than in Geeta Dutt), perhaps a certain intonation of some words. Whatever; individually, they’re among my top favourite singers, and together they’re unbeatable. In this beautifully romantic song (in a film that was, sadly, nothing to write home about), Geeta and Hemant are superb. The music is so melodious, and their voices are so perfectly matched. This is one of those songs I can listen to in a loop.
2. Mujhko tum jo mile yeh jahaan mil gaya (Detective, 1958; with Hemant Kumar): Another pair of lovers meeting in the night. Another song in the voices of Hemant and Geeta Dutt. This one, though, with music composed by Geeta’s brother Mukul Roy, is rather different from Gumsum sa yeh jahaan: it’s softer, quieter, more gentle. And the combination of Hemant’s gorgeously deep and rich baritone, and Geeta’s sweet soprano: one of the best romantic songs there is.
3. Na main dhan chaahoon (Kaala Bazaar, 1960; with Sudha Malhotra): For a change from the romance of the two previous songs, a bhajan. I am not a fan of bhajans, and the number of Hindi film bhajans that I like is so few and far between, I’d be hard-pressed to find ten to compile a list. But Na main dhan chaahoon is an exception: this is a poignant, very well-put-together bhajan. The picturisation is excellent, the lyrics very relevant (and not merely just another hymn in praise of an omnipotent deity). And, best of all: the music and the two voices. I have always been enthralled by SD Burman’s ability to choose just the right voices to match actors, and this is no different: Sudha Malhotra’s girlish, rather more conventional voice is perfectly suited to a young Nanda, while Geeta Dutt’s more mature voice fits Leela Chitnis to a T. The way they echo each other, joining, going one before the other, and then coming together again: beautiful.
4. Kya ho phir jo din rangeela ho (Nau Do Gyarah, 1957; with Asha Bhonsle): Another song in which Geeta Dutt is paired with a female singer, but a song that’s worlds apart from the quiet, self-effacing devotion of Na main dhan chaahoon. Kya ho phir jo din rangeela ho is a club song—one of SD Burman’s best—with Asha singing playback for a young and effervescent Helen, while Geeta Dutt sings for a more sensuous, cigarette-holding Shashikala. Again, the two voices are matched beautifully to their respective characters: Shashikala is the vamp, the self-assured, confident woman out to nab the hero and his money. She’s the main dancer in the nightclub, so the sultry smokiness of Geeta Dutt’s voice is a perfect fit for her, as is the definitely slower, softer, almost slurred tempo of the lyrics she sings. Helen, on the other hand, is in a cameo, a dancer who appears just in this one song, to provide the faster, peppier contrast to Shashikala’s singing.
5. Chupke se mile pyaase-pyaase (Manzil, 1960; with Mohammad Rafi): The first time I heard this song (I was watching Manzil, which was being shown on Doordarshan), I started off being none too impressed. Recited poetry as part of a song isn’t unknown, even if it’s unusual, but I’m not especially fond of it—and this song just seemed to meander, less a song than lyrics being read… and then, gradually, it began to sparkle, to become a stunning piece of singing. I love the way Rafi’s and Geeta Dutt’s voices come together in Chupke se mile pyaase-pyaase: not singing together, but complementing each other, singing in parts, or one singing and one humming. Sublime.
6. Aan milo aan milo Shyam saanwre (Devdas, 1955; with Manna Dey): Aan milo aan milo Shyam saanwre is fast becoming another Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai or an Aage bhi jaane na tu for my blog: every year, it ends up being on at least one list of songs I’ve compiled. Here, Geeta Dutt is paired with another Bengali—Manna Dey—in a song inspired by the music of the wandering minstrels of Bengal. There’s a beautifully rustic lilt to the song, and to the two voices, which makes it hauntingly lovely. As the little girl says, “Kitna pyaara gaana hai!”
7. Tum jo hue mere humsafar (12 o’Clock, 1958; with Mohammad Rafi): Among the male singers with whom she was paired, Geeta Dutt sang some of her best songs with Rafi. Whether it was purely romantic songs like Chupke se mile pyaase-pyaase, or philosophical-in-a-lighter-vein ones like Ae dil hai mushkil jeena yahaan, these two, thanks to their versatility and their wonderful voices, managed to infuse each song with all the right emotions. Tum jo hue mere humsafar is an airy, sweet love song: tuneful and pleasant, and very easy listening. This, incidentally, was probably the very first Geeta Dutt duet I remember hearing in which I was able to identify her voice.
8. Jaane kahaan mera jigar gaya ji (Mr & Mrs 55, 1955; with Mohammad Rafi): Mr & Mrs 55 allowed Geeta Dutt to shine in some great songs, all the way from solos like Thandi hawa kaali ghata aa hi gayi jhoomke and the poignant Preetam aan milo, to duets like Chal diye bandanawaaz to the utterly romantic Udhar tum haseen ho—and this one, a delightful little song about being in love but not letting that come in the way of being comical. Rafi, who was—as is evident in so many songs with Johnny Walker—the ebullient, appropriately nutty voice of the comedian; Geeta Dutt here shows that she can hold her own as the voice of Yasmin, who plays Johnny Walker’s playful and mischievous girlfriend in Mr & Mrs 55. A song that sounds happy and frothy and fun.
9. Sun sun sun zaalima (Aar Paar, 1954): Aar Paar had a song—Arre na na na tauba tauba—which, besides being also sung by Geeta Dutt and Mohammad Rafi, was very similar in tone to Jaane kahaan mera jigar gaya ji: ardent suitor woos his lady love, and though she does love him, she tries, deliberately and teasingly, to quash his fervour. And there was this song, very well-picturised in a garage, with hero and heroine waltzing all across cars, on roofs and hoods and past equipment. Sun sun sun zaalima had a sad, solo version, but this fast-paced one is a lively, effervescent one that’s hard not to like.
10. Hum panchhi mastaane (Dekh Kabira Roya, 1957): Geeta Dutt sang some of the nicest saheli songs there are—like Jaanu jaanu re kaahe khanke hai tora kangna, Akhiyaan bhool gayi hain sona, Thandi-thandi hawa poochhe unka pata—and this vivacious, carefree little number from Dekh Kabira Roya. Lata Mangeshkar and Geeta Dutt sang together in nearly 40 songs (from what I’ve been able to gather), many of them from fairly obscure films. This one, though, is a relatively well-known song, and from a score which included some huge hits. Lata and Geeta are pitch-perfect, emotion-perfect, here: bubbly and frothy and determined.