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Geeta Bali

Geeta_Bali

Legendary Hindi film actress, who dominated the Indian screen in the 1950s & 60s. Geeta Bali died at the young age of 35 due to small pox. She was married to Shammi Kapoor. Her secretary was Surinder Kapoor, father of Hindi film producer Boney Kapoor, and actor Anil Kapoor.

 Geeta Bali born as Harikirtan Kaur was a popular Indian actress during the 1950s & 60s. Like her co legendary actresses of the 1950 & 60’s – Meena Kumari who died of liver cirrhosis at the age of 40, and Madhubala who died of a heart ailment at the age of 36 – Geeta Bali died at the young age of 35 due to small pox. Ironically, her father had also been blinded by small pox.

Daughter of a Sikh missionary, Geeta started her film career as a child actress, at the age of 12. She did a few inconsequential, dancing roles in pre-partition Punjab, before moving to Bombay, where her mentor Film producer Kidar Sharma first met her living in poverty with family in somebody’s bathroom. Sharma cast her in his Suhaag Raat (1948). In 1951, she became a major star and stared in hit films like Guru Dutt’s Baazi (1951), and Albela (1951). Her secretary was Surinder Kapoor, father of Hindi film producer Boney Kapoor, and actor Anil Kapoor.

In 1955, Geeta Bali at the age of 24 an established star in Hindi films, married 23 year old Shammi Kapoor who was then a struggling actor. Incidentally before marriage Geeta had co stared with her brother-in-law Raj Kapoor in Bawre Nain (1950) and with her father-in-law Prithviraj Kapoor in Anand Math (1952) due to this she was initially hesitant to marry Shammi. Not knowing how the Kapoor family would accept the marriage they secretly married in a temple at 4.30AM with friend and film producer Hari Walia as the sole witness.  Geeta & Shammi have two children, a son (Aditya Raj) and a daughter (Kanchan, who is married to filmmaker Ketan Desai, son of renowned filmmaker Manmohan Desai). Geeta’s niece Yogeeta Bali (who married Singer Kishore Kumar and later actor Mithun Chakravorty) also made it into films.  Shammi Kapoor later went on to be a sensation and a star in the 1960s.

When on an outdoor shooting in Punjab, for a Punjabi film ‘Rano’ which she was producing and acting in Geeta contracted small pox. She was rushed back to the best possible treatment in Mumbai but her temperature rose to 107 degrees; and she succumbed to the disease. She died at the age of 35 on 21 January 1965. She was cremated at Banganga, close to the temple where she married Shammi Kapoor. In 2011 when Shammi Kapoor died of chronic renal failure, at the age of 79 he too was cremated at Banganga .