Ten of my favourite Chitragupta songs

Happy 100th birth anniversary, Chitragupta!

A couple of years back, in celebration of the birth anniversary of C Ramachandra, I’d posted a selection of my favourite songs from his oeuvre. In my post, I’d described C Ramachandra as ‘underrated’ (a reflection of the fact that the average person who listens to old Hindi film music—not the diehard enthusiast who knows, or tries to know, just about every detail about the songs of yesteryears—tends to talk about ‘bigger names’ like SD Burman, Naushad, OP Nayyar, etc). A couple of readers refuted that: they said C Ramachandra wasn’t underrated; among the music directors of that period who were underrated was Chitragupta.

I may not have agreed with AK and Kersi Mistry on C Ramachandra, but I do agree about Chitragupta: very talented, and oh, so overlooked when it comes to lists of great composers. Yet, when you listen to his songs, you’ll find some of the loveliest tunes, the most nuanced of compositions. Even some immensely popular songs.

Born on November 16, 1917 in Gopalganj district of Bihar, Chitragupta ended up in the film industry after an initial stint as a lecturer in Patna (interestingly enough, he held a master’s degree in both journalism as well as economics). In Bombay, Chitragupta began his career as an assistant to SN Tripathi; from about 1946 onwards, he was composing on his own. He went on to compose songs for both Hindi as well as Bhojpuri cinema, right up to 1990 (he passed away in January 1991). It’s sad that more people know of Chitragupta’s sons—Anand-Milind—than they do about the duo’s much underrated but extremely talented father.

Chitragupta

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Pyaar ka Sapna (1969)

The buy-a-film-because-of-a-song bug bites again. I’ve had this happen to me umpteen times, and the symptoms are invariably the same: I remember hearing a lovely song (generally back in the long-ago days of my childhood), and I think, if the music is so fabulous, what must the film be like? (Yes, a nincompoop’s logic, but what the hell). Sometimes, I discover on imdb that the film has a cast I like. Very occasionally, I even find that it has a director I have great faith in.

When a film, besides starring the beautiful Mala Sinha, also includes three more of my favourite actors—Ashok Kumar, Helen and Johnny Walker—and features a deliciously romantic song, I can’t not buy.

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I’m back!

Or rather, I was back in India a couple of days ago, but I’ve only now managed (somewhat) to get over the jet lag, clean up home a bit, and find time to see what’s happening in cyberspace. Travelling is so tiring and trying.

Having said which, I’ll have to admit I love travelling. Give me a new place to explore—preferably with lots of old buildings, museums or pretty sceneries—and I’m very happy. Though I suppose I have to confess: Switzerland didn’t quite measure up to all I’d expected of it. There was, for one, no Shammi Kapoor begging me not to go off on my own

Shammi Kapoor in An Evening In Paris

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