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10 best songs of Geeta Bali: Anniversary special

On Geeta Bali's 55th death anniversary, we list some of the versatile actress's popular film numbers.

Sonal Pandya

Actress Geeta Bali burst into Hindi cinema with Kidar Sharma’s Sohag Raat (1948). Unfortunately, the cherubic actress, with her ever-present smile, was on the silver screen for only about two decades. She died at 35 on the sets of a film by well-known writer Rajinder Singh Bedi after contracting smallpox. The film was shelved permanently after her untimely death.

The effervescent charm of Geeta Bali: Anniversary special

In those two decades, the natural actress got notice as the second lead in films like Dulari (1949), Bari Bahen (1949) and Baazi (1951). She made a popular pair with actor Bhagwan Dada in films like Albela (1951) and Jhamela (1953), and was cast in more meaty roles in the latter half of her career, with Vachan (1955) and Jailor (1958). Though she was married to actor Shammi Kapoor, the two never had a proper hit film together.

We remember Geeta Bali on her death anniversary today, 21 January, with 10 of her popular numbers, across her career.

‘Chandni Aayi Banke’ — Dulari (1949)

While Madhubala had the leading role in Dulari (1949) with actor Suresh, Geeta Bali had an important role in the film as a gypsy girl, Kasturi, who helps them reunite eventually. For the young actress, this was a big break.

Shamshad Begum provides the vocals for Geeta Bali here, in this Naushad composition, written by Shakeel Badayuni. The young Geeta has a lovely solo number with Suresh, while Madhubala looks on from the sidelines. With her graceful dance movements, the actress was on her way to playing leading roles.

'Chale Jaana Nahin' — Bari Bahen (1949)

For Bari Bahen (1949), Geeta Bali took on the part of Suraiya’s younger sister in the DD Kashyap film. Geeta is Kiran, a naive young woman studying in the city who falls for the roguish Pran as Ajit. He abandons her when she becomes pregnant, and she turns to her sister Shyama (Suraiya) for help.

In the romantic number, 'Chale Jaana Nahin', which proves to be a foreshadowing of Kiran’s situation later in the film, Lata Mangeshkar gives the vocals for the young Geeta Bali. Pran glowers with a cigarette for the duration of the Husnlal-Bhagatram number, which was written by Rajendra Krishan.

‘Shola Jo Bhadke’ — Albela (1951)

As the rhythmic staccato of drums grows, Geeta Bali rises up from near the fire with the opening words of this classic C Ramchandra song. 'Shola jo bhadke, dil mera dhadke, dard jawaani ka sataye badh badh ke,' sang Lata Mangeshkar for the vivacious actress. The fireside song was written by Rajendra Krishan for the composer Ramchandra.

Bali matched Master Bhagwan step for step in this charming number, but in her closeups, she showed why she was a natural before the camera. It’s almost as if Mangeshkar’s voice is emanating from her. In 2016, Vidya Balan played Geeta Bali in the Marathi film Ekk Albela, and recreated this iconic number.

‘Sham Dhale Khirki Tale’ — Albela (1951)

With so many lovely hits from Albela (1951), it becomes hard to choose just one, but the sparring between Bhagwan Dada and Geeta Bali in ‘Sham Dhale Khirki Tale’ was both endearing and mesmerizing. These were two performers at the top of their game. Composer C Ramchandra joined Lata Mangeshkar on this charming duet written, again, by Rajinder Krishan.

Geeta plays Asha, a leading actress in a theatre troupe that Bhagwan's Pyare hopes to join one day. He succeeds and the pair fall in love, on and off the stage. But Pyare’s family troubles lead him to give up his first love, acting, to solve them.

‘Tadbeer Se Bigdi Hui’ — Baazi (1951)

One of Geeta Bali's most endearing songs is the lilting 'Tadbeer Se Bigadi Hui' from composer SD Burman. The impish actress is at her best as the dancer Leena, who goes up against Dev Anand's Madan at every turn in Guru Dutt's Baazi (1951).

Geeta Bali's eyes do most of the work in this number, pausing or glancing meaningfully at each turn by lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi. Geeta Dutt brings out the mischievousness of the track, where Leena is asking Madan flirtatiously to to take a chance on her.

‘Vande Mataram’ — Anand Math (1952)

Geeta Bali plays Shanti, married to Pradeep Kumar’s Jivananda in the nationalistic film based on the novel of the same name by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. Bankim Chandra also wrote the poem 'Vande Mataram' which was turned into a rallying cry and a musical number in Hemen Gupta's Anand Math. Hemant Kumar composed the music for Hindi cinema for the first time in this film, and roped in Geeta Dutt (then Roy) to sing the powerful number.

The film follows the Sanyasi Rebellion against the British, and Geeta Bali plays a woman just as committed to the cause of freedom as her husband and willing to risk all. While the number is not entirely focused on her, she leads the rallying cry dressed as a monk. She acted in the film with her future father-in-law, Prithviraj Kapoor.

‘Chori Chori Meri Gali Aana Hai Bura’ — Jaal (1952)

Geeta Bali and Dev Anand reunited yet again for Guru Dutt’s Jaal (1952) where they, respectively, played Maria and Tony. Maria was a naive young Christian woman who falls for the handsome stranger who arrives in Goa and sweeps her off her feet. She is unaware of Tony’s dark side (he is a gold smuggler) until the very end.

Another winning effort from the team of SD Burman and Sahir Ludhianvi, ‘Chori Chori Meri Gali Aana Hai Bura’ is a showcase of Geeta’s natural grace in dance numbers. She effortlessly shines in the Goa-inspired song, rendered by Lata Mangeshkar, as her character tells Tony in the song. The film is known for the emotional ballad by Hemant Kumar, 'Yeh Raat Yeh Chandni Phir Kahan', but this effervescent turn by Geeta Bali is hard to ignore.

‘Chanda Mama Door Ke’ — Vachan (1955)

In composer Ravi’s first film, the music buoyed the film leading to a silver jubilee hit, running in theatres for 25 consecutive weeks. Geeta Bali played sister to Rajendra Kumar in this family drama by Raj Rishi. Tragic circumstances force her to give up her love and to take up work to support her family.

For the popular children’s lullaby ‘Chanda Mama Door Ke’, written by Prem Dhawan and sung by Asha Bhosle, Geeta’s character Kamla gets employed in the house of her former lover caring for his son and wife. She maintains her dignity throughout. The actress was nominated for a Filmfare award for Best Actress but lost out to Kamini Kaushal for Bimal Roy's Biraj Bahu.

‘Sari Sari Raat Teri Yaad Sataye’ — Aji Bas Shukriya (1958)

Most of Geeta Bali’s popular numbers were light-hearted hits, but in these sadder songs she displayed her more serious side. In Aji Bas Shukriya (1958), she played Geeta, a young woman who becomes a star, thanks to her dual talents of singing and dancing. She is helped in her endeavour by her neighbour Chandu, played by Johnny Walker.

‘Sari Sari Raat Teri Yaad Sataye’, tinged with romantic longing, was composed by Roshan and written by lyricist Farooq Kaiser. Once again, Mangeshkar’s voice and Geeta Bali’s performance fused together in a convincing manner.

'Hum Pyar Mein Jalnewalon Ko' — Jailor (1958)

In Sohrab Modi's remake of his own Jailor (1938), Geeta Bali plays Chhaya, a blind girl whom Modi's character Dilip, a jailor, harbours in his home after her brother goes to prison. While the jailor falls for the young woman, he later learns that she loves Dr Ramesh (Abhi Bhattacharya), the former lover of Dilip's own wife Kanwal (Kamini Kaushal).

So, in grand tradition, Geeta Bali gets a solo number on a piano, where she sings away her romantic woes, albeit in slightly restrained manner. The Madan Mohan composition, written by Rajendra Krishan, is sung by Lata Mangeshkar.