Geeta Bali was born in the pre-partition Punjab in the city of Sargodha in Pakistan as Harkirtan Kaur in 1930. Her family moved to Mumbai when she started to get breaks in films.
Geeta Baali started her film career as a child actress, at the age of 12, with the film The Cobbler. She made her debut as a heroine in Badnaami (1946).
Bali became a star in the 1950s. She had also worked earlier with her future brother-in-law Raj Kapoor in Bawre Nain (1950) and with her future father-in-law Prithviraj Kapoor in Anand Math. Unlike other actresses who gave up films after marrying into the Kapoor family, Bali kept acting until her death. Her last film was Jab Se Tumko Dekha Hai in 1963. She did more than 70 films in a 10 year career.
Her personal secretary was Surinder Kapoor, father of producer Boney Kapoor, actor Anil Kapoor and Sanjay Kapoor.
Her family lived in Amritsar before 1947. Her father, Kartar Singh was known as a philosopher . He was a Sikh scholar and kirtan (Sikh devotional music) singer. Her maternal grandfather, Takhat Singh (1870-1937), was the founder of Sikh Kanya Mahavidyalay - a boarding school for girls and the first of its kind established in 1904 in Ferozepur. Her elder brother DigVijay Singh Bali was a film director. He directed the movie Raag Rang starring her and Ashok Kumar in 1952.The parents encouraged their daughters, Harkirtan (Geeta Bali) and Hardarshan, to learn classical music and dance, horse riding and gatka fencing. Fundamentalist Sikhs socially boycotted the family as they did not like the girls performing in public and they picketed the theatres. [Source: Amar Bharti interviewed by Amrita Pritam, Nagmani December 1982]
On 23 August 1955, Geeta married Shammi Kapoor, with whom she was working in the film Coffee House. They had two children, a son (Aditya Raj Kapoor) and a daughter (Kanchan).
She died on 21 January 1965, having contracted smallpox while shooting a Punjabi film, Rano, based on a novel Eik Chadar Maili Si by Rajinder Singh Bedi. He was directing the film and she was the producer. Bedi, devastated by the untimely death of Bali, abandoned the project. He wrote later that he had put the novel, Ek Chadar Maili Si, on her burning funeral pyre.
She is the aunt of Yogeeta Bali. Shammi Kapoor married Neela Devi after her death.
Her films include Sohag Raat (1948) with Bharat Bhushan, Bawre Nain (1950) with future brother-in-law Raj Kapoor, Baazi (1951) with Dev Anand, Ghayal (1951) with Sheikh Mukhtar, Albela (1951) and Jhamela (1953) with Bhagwan Dada, Jaal (1952) with Dev Anand, Baaz (1953) with Guru Dutt and Mr. India (1961). She received a Filmfare Nomination as Best Actress for Vachan (1955) and another nomination as Best Supporting Actress for film Kavi (1955). One of her memorable movies is Anand Math.