Geeta Bali


It’s hard to believe that the vivacious and beautiful Geeta Bali has been gone for more than 44 years now. She passed away on January 21, 1965 at the age of 35, from smallpox. Filmfare had a lovely tribute to her (with photos they had taken shortly before her death) a few weeks after that.

Here she is with daughter Kanchan (Kajal). Kanchan has grown up to look exactly like Geeta, in my opinion.


So beautiful!


I love this photo of her with Shammi, her beloved husband. He writes very sweetly about her on his website.


She was working in a Punjabi film at the time called Rano, playing a widow who marries her late husband’s brother. I wonder how many more wonderful films she might have gone on to give us.


And here she is on Diwali in 1957 (at left—gorgeous!) and with her son Mickey (right).


Gone far too soon, and still missed! I think I would have loved just hanging out with her, although I probably would have then felt compelled to not try and take Shammi away from her. But maybe I would have tried anyway, secure in the knowledge that I’d never succeed!

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51 Comments to “Geeta Bali”

  1. she was lovely wasn’t she? And in a nice, healthy looking way too…post oscar dislike of stick figures at an all-time high here! :-)

    I didn’t know smallpox did her in….wonder why she was never inoculated? The vaccine was common by her time, and even I got it, in the early 70s, though it was dying out by then.


    • Yes, much nicer looking than the gaunt bones you see on red carpets now! :)

      I don’t know much about smallpox or the history of vaccination, but it’s entirely possible that she missed being vaccinated—I think she was born into a poor family. However it happened, it was tragic. The article made me cry.

  2. I love love love this woman- more than beauty, I love the energy and the charisma she projected, the way she drew you in with her smile. Shammi’s tribute to her is really heartfelt- I think I got misty eyed. And I want to see Coffee House.

    • I want to see Coffee House too. And so many others! Have never been able to find it on DVD though…and yes, you can feel Shammi’s sorrow even after all this time in the way he writes about her.

  3. Rumour or lore has it that the family were so poor when they moved to Bombay that at the time of the first film they were living in a bathroom.

    That might be an exaggeration but it most certainly reflects the hardships of her early life. As she was a Punjabi-sikh from the part that was given to Pakistan, I guess that the family lost, like so many many others, whatever little or lot they had during Partition.

    At the time she was young, small-pox vaccine would hardly have been widely available. I myself remember going through that massive WHO sponsored small-pox eradication programme: queuing up in school to get the two quick pin pricks on the forearm.

    But she had something more than beauty, a personality and energy that shown through the screen. Thank you for posting the lovely memoir memsaab.

  4. You are welcome, Bawa! It’s so hard to find these magazines and articles that I enjoy sharing them :)

  5. She is absolutely rocking that eyeliner! It makes her look… ummmmm… let me think… there is only word for it and it cant be translated, so its… it makes her look chanchal!

    I like that, that is Chammak Challo’s word for the day… Chanchal. Thats what I want to be.

    Geeta Dutt was her singing voice and her lively singing style matched Geeta Bali’s “chanchalness”. Geeta Dutt was a great part of Geeta Bali’s success.

  6. She was so vivacious – reading how Shammi writes about her has always made me sad.

  7. Chanchal… ummm… lets see… lively, vivacious. Something like that.

  8. `chanchal’ means vivacious, and I completely agree! I love Geeta Bali – not just beautiful, but so very good at lighting up the screen. She’d enter a frame, and suddenly things would brighten up. Unfortunately, the few films I’ve seen of hers have all been with Dev Anand (except Anandmath and Baaz) – I do so want to see at least one in which she starred opposite Shammi Kapoor! (And Mujrim doesn’t count, I think).

  9. She was absolutely great with Bhagwan in ‘Albela’. Saw it ages back on DD. Remember “Shola jo Bhadke” ? Watch it on youtube if you havent seen it before – though that is highly doubtful –

  10. Wow!!! A 1965 version of Filmfare. I’ve NEVER seen one of those before! And Geeta Bali looks lovely though a bit Meena Kumari-ish in that last screencap. I guess Rano was the first try at filming Rajinder Singh Bedi’s book, which later came out as the Hema-Rishi starrer Ek Chaadar Maili Si.

  11. This is a lovely, lovely post about one of my favourite actors. You know, even as a kid, I loved watching a Geeta Bali film, and hated it at the same time, because it always made me feel so sad that she was not around, and not doing more films.

    You are right, Shammi still seems to miss her.

  12. I’ve been meaning to see her film Miss Cocacola with Shammi for long. it has wonderful songs.

  13. ADNYC and dustedoff: Yay! I’ve learned a new word. You will see that I used vivacious as well in the first sentence of this post—it’s really what she completely embodied.

    bluelotus: I have Albela, must get to it soon.

    bollyviewer: I know! It’s crumbling, but very interesting…yes Rano I read somewhere was based on that book.

    Banno: I love her too, and it is bittersweet watching her light the screen up.

    Hildebrand: I would love to find that film! The only time I’ve seen them onscreen together is in Mujrim where Geeta does a guest appearance as a dancer in a club/restaurant. It’s lots of fun :)

  14. I was not aware that she died at 35, and that it was 44 yeras ago. She had already accomplished so much by then.

    The 1965 magazine cover makes me nostalgia filled. That copy of Filmfare magazine costed 75 paise. Those were the days.

  15. She did achieve a great deal in her short life. Most of us could only hope to accomplish half as much! And yes, the seventy-five paise cracked me up. It cost me a LOT more, I can tell you!


    How fun! I feel the bubbles in my nose already!

  17. Yes, but I fear it may be lost to the mists of time…I’ve never seen even a VCD of it available…

  18. I remember when I was 12. I was watching this interview of Shammi Kapoor about the filming of Teesri Manzil, during hwich time he had lost her to chicken pox. It was a very emotional monologue and the way the camera was panned on his face towards the end got me misty eyed.

  19. I’m glad he managed to find happiness again :)

  20. beautiful pictures!

    here is one of my favorite clips of her, especially at the end on the white horse, the composition is great.

  21. Wow Yamini. I didnt know they ever did ‘the making of …….’ kind of interviews back then. Must remind myself never to make such assumptions. Where did you watch the interview…. DD? Do you remeber what he said?

  22. doesn’t somebody die of small pox in baawre nain as well?
    I loved that movie.
    Geeta Bali had this way to play the role, which convinced you that this scene can be done only this way andd no other.
    Her passion for life and love canb e felt thorugh the screen. Such a wonderful lady.
    I would have loved to have her as my friend. I can’t remember of ever not liking a movie in which she starred. Shw more than compensated for any flaw in the picture.
    She was acting for a “Ek Chaddar Maili Si”, (maybe it was called rano at that time) which was done 20 years later with hema malini, rishi kapoor and poonam dhillon.
    thanks memsaab for bringing this feature.
    one finds hardly any stuff on her in internet (or didn’t i search for it enough?)

  23. Love these photos and Shammi’s story linked in. We must make note to carry bright red lipstick in our bags ladies for makeshift maang marking. I’ve only see that done with blood in the movies when the sidoor isn’t at hand, never even thought of lipstick.

  24. LOL, I do not plan to ever be in a position where sindoor will need to be applied!!! But bright red lipstick has many useful applications :)

  25. I am Neresha Sieunarine of Trinidad, West Indies. When I was growing up as a child I was often told by my maternal uncle that I resemble Geeta Bali a whole lot. I was also told by my cousin that I remind him of Geeta Bali. Today when I saw Geeta Bali in Vachan,
    I asked my husband if I resemble Geeta Bali, he said ‘Yes’. I have checked the internet for her and I am amazed of what I read about her. I am very sad as to how she died. She is definitely an amazing woman.

  26. hi,
    thanx for this blog….i am her son (mickey) and i got to see these lovely pix of hers..if u have some more please mail me. thanks

    • Hi Mickey :-) I will be very happy to send these to you in a higher resolution and look for more if I have them. I am a very big fan of both your parents!

  27. thank u…….u have brought back memories that get rarer with each passing year..God bless…

    • I’ve sent some of these plus a couple others from the same article—do let me know if they don’t come through and I’ll try from a different mail account. I will look for others in my stash of old magazines as well, and send any that I find. Enjoy them :)

  28. Only the other day I was watching Baazi (1951). There are quite a few good performances in it but easily the stand-out performance is Geeta Bali’s. She had such a natural, mischievous smile…you’ve just got to watch her in the classic song “tadbeer se bigdi hui taqdeer bana le” to know what I am talking about. Or “shola jo bhadke” from Albela.

    Geeta Bali usuallyh came across as a very lively person on screen. Invariably bubbly, teasing, full of life. Ironic then that her own life was cut short so cruelly at 35.

    She has left us with many memories and will always remain in our hearts.

  29. I would love to see her movie Cocacola. I am trying to get this movie but without success. I would like to ask Shammi Kapoor if he knows where to get the movie..I like to come to Bombay and see in person shammi kapoor but do not know his residence address.


  31. I think the best place to find Miss Coca Cola would be doordarshan archives. They might have shown this movie at some point, as i’ve seen the songs on chitrahaar in the 80’s. Also, if someone could find the name of the studios or who ever has the rights to this movie, producers?

    • I am a fan of Shammi Kapoor where I know the story about Geeta Bali,she is beautiful.I like the picture she with Shammi,so sweet but why is there a piece of picture she with Shammi,I hope you can show other pictures with Shammi and her kids.

  32. Just went through this topic for the first time… Loved it!!!

    She was wonderful – like everyone has said here, vivacious, very lively. And she had a wonderful sense of rhytm – I just loved the way she moved!! And I do wish to see her movies with Shammi Kapoor – not been able to see any so far… Albela is a must watch for Geeta fans. I thought she was very sweet in Baware nain too. And “Aji Bas shukriya” is another fun movie of hers!! Lovely songs – “Saari saari raat” from this movie is awesome!!

  33. outstanding lady in vivacity and beauty. All the films she acted in were applauded by cine goers. She was full of life; in whatever films she acted she did her performance with tremendous precision and accuracy leaving none to be critical of her. Unfortunately she died young of a disease which was fatal in those days. May her soul rest in peace. Mak din

  34. Now he is with her watching over all his loved ones and fans and happy as a lark . He will be missed very much . There is something about watching his movies over and over agian , doubt I will be able to do it now thiough..

  35. You can read a biography of her on page of “Star Portrait” part B here on my website

  36. The funny thing is that I’m such a big fan of hers without seeing a single film of hers. I have heard so many wonderful things about this woman, that it is impossible not to like her. The fact that was a victim of Partition, her family lost everything, she was still so positive, became insipiration for her husband. She continued her career after marriage. The fact she was working on a Punjabi film, that is so great. Not many Bollywood actors care for their Punjabi background. She was amazing.d

  37. I enjoyed very much watching Movie Jailor with Kamini Kaushal and Sorab Moti. What a acting Geeta performed as a blind girl. I wondered she was never nominated as the best actress award in 1959. I think sh was robbed of the award that year. I feel sad till now. Her perfomance was outstanding. I watch Jailor every month and cannot stop remembering her beautiful acting. May God bless her soul in eternal peace.

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