Balraj Sahni views on Geeta Bali

Geeta Bali
Geeta Bali

I was reading Balraj Sahni’s autobiography which was published in 1979, 6 years after his death in 1973. In his autobiography, he shares his views on many artistes of the Golden Era. The passages on Geeta Bali particularly struck me because I was not expecting this from her, as she remains one of my favorite actresses.

Excerpt 1 (Somewhere around early 1950s)

Since Guru Dutt had wanted Geeta Bali to play the dancer in Baazi, we went to her bungalow at Versova one evening to read to her the script of the film. We had to wait since she had not yet returned home from the studio.

When she eventually arrived, she had still on the dress of the part she was then playing and her face was made up. I remember, she was looking dazzlingly beautiful. Throughout the recitation, she sat there restless and fidgety. At least that is the impression I got, which might be due to the fact that, that was the first time I was ‘reciting’ a film story to an actress! All the same, I could not fail to see that her grasp of the film medium was amazing!

Hardly had I read a third of the script when she rose from the sofa and exclaimed, ‘Wonderful! I will definitely work in your film. Please settle the details with Bibiji.’

That was an excellent piece of news for us, since we had hardly expected her to take on one more role. You see she was then working in about thirty films!

Excerpt 2 (Somewhere around late 1950s)

Every film star is going to be applied the tag ‘ex’ some day. How, then, could Geeta Bali escape this fate? It is as well that she is no more now. I had seen her suffer the pangs of anguish in the evening of her film career, when the shadows of approaching oblivion were rapidly gathering around her. As luck would have it, we were then sharing the title roles in a couple of films. Once at the M & T Studio (which is now a factory), I happened to hear her complain bitterly to her saheli, ‘All I get now as my hero is that blackface Balraj!’

Apparently, the memory of an incident of a few years ago was still fresh in her mind. She was then at the peak of her career, a queen whose word was law. She had threatened to turn down the heroine’s role in a film—whose story incidentally she had liked very much—just because she had heard that the producer was thinking of signing me for the male lead! Needless to say, the director eventually made the producer realize the folly of losing the services of so glamorous a star.

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  1. Geeta Bali was very quick at guessing. She never wasted time in arriving at a decision. She did not discriminate between a super-star or an ordinary actor whiling signing the movies.

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