The Uncelebrated Composer - Chitragupta
Chitragupta’s music was greatly influenced by colloquial Bhojpuri musical traditions – naturally, his most devout audience belonged to that linguistic belt
Born and brought up as Chitragupta Shrivastava in the village of Karmaini in Gopalganj district of Bihar, he was one of the very few well-read musicians of his era – he did Masters in economics as well as journalism. Later, he joined Patna University as a lecturer in economics.
Chitragupta became interested in music and took lessons from Pandit Shiv Prasad Tripathi and started singing bhajans in Puja celebrations.
Soon, Chitragupta resigned his lectureship and moved to Bombay in 1944, with the dream of becoming a composer. Sarvottam Badami of Bombay Talkies introduced him to SN Tripathi. Tripathi was impressed by Chitragupta's passion for music and took him as an assistant (1946 to 1950). It was Tripathi who recommended Homi Wadia to take him as an independent composer for his film Lady Robinhood (1946) starring fearless Nadia, Prakash, Anant Prabhakar and Asha Mathur. Chitragupta lent his voice in a duet with Rajkumari in the film.
After his debut in Lady Robinhood, Chitragupta gave music in dozen stunt films. These films were fancied by masses due to stunts of Nadia and John Cavas rather than its music. At the same time, Chitragupta also gave music in various social and mythological films. Some of his compositions were enjoyed in Bhakt Pundlik (1949). Some of his formidable numbers in the movie were – "Mata pita ki sewa kar ke" (Chitragupta/Chorus), "Darshan de do Chakradhar Sudarshan dhari", "Jai murlidhar mohan girdhar"(Chitragupta), and "Ankhon se kaha dil ne suna" (Uma Devi, later known as Tuntun). His other hits were from Veer Babruwahan "Dhere dhere behti naiya" (Geeta Roy). In Saukeen, "O tange wale" (Shanti Sharma/Chitragupta). In Hamara Ghar, "Kahan chale sarkar" (Shamshad/Kishore) (1950). One could see the use of harmonium, ghunghru and tabla in nautanki style which was apparent in his compositions.
Chitragupta remained indebted to one man throughout his life for introducing him to the big banner of the fifties and sixties – RD Burman. After the smashing success of Bahaar, Burman Da was asked by AVM Productions to compose music for Shiv Bhakt (1955). Barman Da found himself uncomfortable to give music for mythological films. He told the owner that Chitragupta would be the right choice for this film. He recorded melody queen Lata Mangeshkar for the first time. Lata sang a splendid Tarana – "Dhin ta dhin ta dhin ta tere na", "Dekho ji meri ore muskura bhi to do, Kahan ja ke ye naina lade". This film developed a strong bond between AVM and Chitragupta. He composed music for many other AVM productions – Bhabhi (1957), Barkha (1959), Main Chup Rahungi (1962) and Main Bhi Ladki Hoon (1964).
Another film which needs a special mention is Chitragupta's Tulsidas (1954). Starring Mahipal in the title role, Rafi sang his immortal bhajans in this film – "Mujhe apni sharan me le lo ram", "Khan chupe ho raja ram" and "Hey mahadev meri laaj rahe".
Bhabhi was a musical hit of 1957. The film was on the disintegration of the joint family system. It starred Balraj Shahini and Pandhari Bai in the main roles, supported by Shyama, Nanda, Jagdeep and Raja Goswami. The hits of the film were "Tie laga ke mana ban gaye janab hero", "Ga re ga re badra ja re ja re badra", "Chali chali re pantang meri chali re" and "Chhupakar meri ankhon mein wo puche kaun hain ji hum" (Lata).
Rafi was also at his best in Bhabhi. He sang "Chal ud ja re panchhi ke ab desh hua begana" (the song was first recorded in Talat Mehmood's voice but Chitragupta was not satisfied as he felt that Talat was not able to create the impact. So Rafi was brought in). Rjiendrakishan's philosophical words were the hallmark of the song.
Like his mentor S.N.Tripathi, Chitragupta had a mystery over Indian classical music. He recorded some unforgettable numbers based on various Raga's – "Dekho paniya bharan ke bahane" (Lata) in Kangan, "Payal wali dekhna yahi pe kahi dil hai" (Kishore Kumar) in Ek Raaz, Manna Dey's "Albeli naar pritam dware" in Main Saadi Karne Chala, and Rafi's evergreen hit "Ankhiyan sang ankhiya lagi" in Raag Malkuns and "Balma mane na" (Lata) in Opera House.
Chitragupta was a gentleman with a big heart. He helped whosoever came to him. After their debut film Parasmani, Laxmikant Pyarelal was keen to work with lyricist Majhrooh Sultanpuri to write songs for film Dosti. Majhrooh was reluctant to work with the new composers. It was Chitragupta who persuaded Majhrooh to write for them. Majhrooh agreed to write songs for Dosti. Rest is history as Dosti won three Filmfare awards (best music, best lyricist and best singer) for the song "Chahunga mein tujhe saanjh savere". On several occasions, Laxmikant Pyarelal said that it was all due to Chitragupta ji.
He was shy to negotiate money transactions with the producers. When Shankar Jaikishan was charging 5 lakhs per film, Chitragupta was giving music in B/C grade films and big banners for a meager sum of twenty thousand per film. His compositions even in such films were chartbusters and was no less than the popular composers of that time.
As mentioned earlier that he used to sing bhajans during the Puja celebrations, he sang fifty bhajans for films. Rafi was at his best in Naag Panchmi (1953). It's bhajans that became popular were "Om namah siway" "… Arti karo harihar ki karo girdhar ki" (Asha/Chorus), "Meri chunariya udai liye jaye", "Mera angna mein aaye jabse balam" and "O naag kahi ja basiyo" (Asha).
In Ajeet and Shakeela's Guest House (1959), Chitragupta composed various foot-tapping numbers – "Tum se kuch kahna hai" (Mukesh/Lata), "Tera jadoo na chalega o sapere", and "Dil ko laakh sambhala ji" (Lata). The same year in Barkha, starring Nanda and Jagdeep, Chitragupta mesmerized with "Ek raat mein do do chand khile" (Lata/Mukesh) and Lata's superhit sole number "Tadpaoge tadpa lo hum tadap tadap ke bhi tumhare geet gayenge". In Kali Topi Laal Rumal (1959) one could see Chitragupta's magic through Lata's lilting numbers "Daga daga wai wai hogai tumse ulfat ho gai" and "Na to dard gaya na dawa hi mili" and a sad duet "Lagi chute na ab to sanam chahye jaye jia teri kasam" (Lata/Rafi).
Patang (1960) starring Mala Sinha and Rajendra Kumar was reasonably successful. It had Lata's hits "Rang dil ki dhadkan bhi lati to hogi" duet in Lata/ Mukesh's voices "Teri shokh nazar ka ishara meri viron raaton ka tara" and title track "Ye duniya patang nit badle ye rang" (Rafi) – all became equally popular. In Opera House, Chitragupta scored dulcet duets "Dekho mausem kya bahar hai" and "Na milte hum to kaho tum kidhar gaye hoge". These dulcet duets in Lata and Mukesh's voice became all-time greats. In Homi Wadia's Zabak with Mahipal and Shyama in the lead, Chitragupta composed few scintillating duets – "Teri duniya se door ho ka chale majboor hame yaad rakhna" (Lata/Rafi) and "Mehlon ne chheen liya bachpan ka pyaar mera" (Usha).
AVM and Chitragupta were back in silver jubilee hit Main Chup Rahungi (1962) starring Meena Kumari and Sunil Dutt. The hit duets of Lata and Rafi were "Koi bata de ye dil hai jahan kyun hota hai dard wahan" and "Chand jane kahan kho gaya". Lata's number "Mere dil kabhi to koi aayaga" was another hit of Chitragupta and Rafi's "Main kaun hoon main kahan hoon" also became popular.
In 1964, Chitragupta gave another hit in Ganga Ki Lehrein. Its number "Ae jane man hanslo zara" (Kishore) "Dekho re kaminiya" (Asha Bhonsle) and "Machalti hui hawa mein chamcham hamare sang sang chale ganga ki lehrein" became chartbuster of that year.
When Bhojpuri industry came into existence in 1962, Chitragupta was the first choice. He gave music in several Bhojpuri films – Ganga Maiyya Tohe Piyari Chadhaio, Laagi Nahi Chhoote Rama, Ganga and Bhauji.
In the 1970s he suffered a heart attack and a paralytic attack but with his sheer will power, he kept on giving music till his last breath. He recorded his last song in Shiv Ganga (1988). The same year his sons, Anand Miland, made their debut in Mansoor Khan's Qayamat se Qayamat Tak which also launched the career of Amir Khan and Juhi Chawla.
With relentless hard work and deteriorating health, he succumbed to protracted illness. He died in the Bombay Hospital on January 14, 1991, at the age of 74.