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Geeta Dutt

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Geeta Dutt (born Geeta Roy) was one of the most influential vocalists in the history of Indian cinema. During the ten years that she was in her prime (1947-1957), she recorded the soundtracks for such popular Indian films as Do Bhai, Barsaat, Andaaz, and Mahal. Initially known for singing sorrowful ballads, Dutt successfully moved toward a more jazzy approach with the soundtrack of the 1951 film Baazi, the directing debut of her future husband, Guru Dutt. One of ten children born to a middle class family in the East Bengal village of Faridpur District, Dutt attracted attention with her singing shortly after moving with her family to Mumbai in 1942. Overheard by a music director, Hanuman Prasad, she was given two lines to sing in a 1946 film, Bhakt Prahlad. The movie's success resulted in Dutt being invited to sing the soundtrack of the film Do Bhai, the following year. Dutt's popularity continued to grow. Between 1947 and 1949, she was the most successful playback singer in India. With the emergence of Lala Manishkar in 1949, however, her status was lowered to number two. Nevertheless, Dutt continued to enjoy a thriving career. Married to Guru Dutt on May 26, 1953, Dutt's future seemed secure. The couple had two sons and a daughter. By 1957, however, the marriage had disintegrated. When Guru Dutt began a relationship with a new leading lady, Waheeda Rehman, divorce became unavoidable. In the aftermath of her divorce, Dutt attempted a return to films. Although plans were made for her to star in Gauri, intended to be India's first film in Cinemascope, the movie was shelved a few days before shooting was scheduled to begin amidst reports of Dutt's being unavailable for rehearsals or recording sessions. Following Guru Dutt's death on October 10, 1964, reportedly from an overdose of sleeping tablets, Dutt suffered a nervous breakdown. Although she recovered and attempted a comeback, appearing in Badhu Bharan in 1967 and Anubhav in 1971, she continued to drink and her health deteriorated. Dutt died of cirrhosis of the liver on July 20, 1972. ~ Craig Harris

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