There’s an interesting board at the crossroad of 14th road in Khar called Sangeetkar Chitragupta Chowk with 4 bars bearing the musical notes of ‘Papa kehte hain..’ This is the story of the sons who dedicated this song and road to their beloved Dad.
A dashing young man, Madan Mohan came into my life in 1952. He churned out the most beautiful music in my presence. He was mine till the 7 year itch took him away and another creative composer stepped into my recently vacated heart. One night I woke to a soulful piece of music that totally fascinated me though I was clueless about Raag Pahadi, Rajinder Krishan and Chitragupta. This raga, like a lover, unruffled in union, serene in separation, powerful enough to achieve eternal union, but resigned to the painful parting ordained by destiny. ‘Chal Ud Ja Re Panchhi’ was the song from ‘Bhabhi’.
Everyday poets would be writing songs in corners of the house, veranda, and garden. Together they made the most exquisite songs; soft numbers like ‘Laagi Chhoote Na Ab To Sanam’ with its delightful harmonica interlude to mischievous songs like ‘Chhedo Na Meri Zulfen’ and ‘Dekho Mausam Kya Bahar Hai’ to the thrill of new love awakening ‘Dil Ka Diya Jalake Gaya’ subdued melody and Lata’s velvety whisper, ‘Jaag Dil E Diwana, rut jaagi vasle-yaar ki’ where Chitragupta restrains Rafi’s singing to soft husky tones and keeps the arrangement simple and tasteful, Majrooh Sultanpuri’s lyrics and the counterpoints of a flute, saxophone and accordion make this an achingly beautiful song. ‘Yeh Parbaton Ke Daayre’, where he set the melody to a waltz heralding a new era in Hindi film music.
And I found I had a new heart throb.
Bihar-born Chitragupta, an MA in Economics & Journalism, worked as a Lecturer at Patna before pursuing his career as a musician. This most literate and well-read person in films was credited; Chitragupta, M.A. in the film titles.
Chitragupta’s uncle BN Azad was part of our freedom struggle. He edited all three tabloids in Bihar. He groomed Chitragupta who was destined for bigger things. He eloped to Bombay with two of his friends. A lucky break gave him the chance to compose as assistant music director till eventually he got his first full fledged film. Three films (Fearless Nadia series) in a row, all super hits. Then on, there was no looking back.
I loved to see the family grow and prosper. Chitragupta was in great demand till 1974 when he suffered a heart attack and lost a lot of work. That’s when his little boys, 12 year old Anand and 10 year old Milind started helping their Dad with interludes, balancing on the sets. Gradually he got his groove back and despite the tough life, gave many hits. In a career spanning 40 years, Chitragupta composed for 200 films including ‘Tumhi ho mata, pita tumhi ho...’ sung as a school prayer all over India even today.
The boys Anand-Milind worked as assistant music directors with their father for eight years while trying to complete their education. Milind , a postgrad in Psychology and Sociology almost completed his PhD thesis on the impact of Hindi film music on society.
Soon the brothers established themselves as a leading musician duo. At a time when disco music was popular, they got back melody in films. ‘Qayamat se Qayamat Tak’ released in 1987 was much appreciated for its songs and won the brothers their first Filmfare award. This noted Bollywood music director duo composed music for 250 films including Dil, Beta, Coolie No 1, Hero No1, Dulhe Raja, Baaghi, Daayra, Mrityudand etc. They probably worked with every worthwhile director in filmdom creating catchy tunes, sometimes soft and haunting, using beats that make your heart dance. They have imaginatively used natural elements like thunder and rain or enchanting audiences with the piano and flute taking a song to fresh creative heights. Milind plays the guitar, bongo, congo, percussion... he’s programmed 500+ songs. Recently Milind went international with, Tie the knot.
The legendary Lata Mangeshkar who named him Milind, named his home in Eden bungalows, ‘SwarGanga’.
With support from Ms. Kalyani Patnaik, Niranjan and Surendra Hiranandani, he now runs the Academy at HFS and Hiranandani Institute of learning where anyone can learn instrumental and vocal music. Milind handles the creative aspect and enrolments while wife, Anita ably assists in administration, accounts and marketing. His charming daughter, Ritika is the third generation in Bollywood, presently Assistant Director to Sajid Nadiadwala while delightful Riya is still studying.
These extraordinary men lived with me till 1993. My heart was their special place.. I mean the room where these unforgettable tunes hummed by all were created.
I am the house that was privileged to host these awesome men and witness magic happening.