Chittor V Nagaiah is a famous actor, singer and composer born in Repalle, Guntur district. Later on he settled in Chittor. He is first of major stars of the Telugu, after Ashok Kumar, Tamil cinemas. He is also a renowned stage actor and recording star in Telugu, and launched as a youth in Surabhi theatre group. Later on, he was associated with Bellari Raghava (playing Kabir in Ramadasu), the Madras-based Suguna Vilas Sabha and Chennapuri Andhra Maha Sabha. He staged mythological 'Shri Krishna Leelau' as an independent production.
His early screen career was mainly in BN Reddy films at Vahini Studios where his humanist performances - e.g. in Sumangali, partly based on the life of reformer Kandaukuri Veeresam Pantulu (1848 - 1919) - were central to the studio's revivalist nationalist melodrama contrasting ancient civilization with decadent modernity.
His later and most successful work was in Saint film genre with Thyagayya and Bhakta Potana, two of the biggest South Indian hits in the 40s associating a revivalist Hindu ascetism with Gandhian moralism as in Ramnoth's mammoth Ezhai Padum Padu, an adaption of Les Miserables.
In early films at Vahini he composed music of Vande Mataram, Sumangali, Devata and Bhakta Potana as well as acting in them. These compositions are still remarkable for their extreme simplicity and the ease with which they are integrated into the narrative.
From mid-50s on he appeared in smaller roles in Telugu and Tamil films, also directing one last Saint film, Ramadasu. He ran Renuka films in Madras. His autobiography was published as Swiya Chritra in 1983. Such a great artiste had to lead a miserable life during his last days. It will be heart-rending to know that no one, except Sivaji Ganeshan, M G Ramachandran and Ghantasala, participated in his funeral procession.