A tribute to S N Tripathi on his 31st death anniversary.
It’s time now, for a post on one more forgotten composer! He was talented, in fact he was an all rounder, he composed, he sang, he acted, he directed, he produced films, he wrote stories & screenplays for some of his movies, he was an expert at dubbing.(Ref: Book ‘Karwan Guzar Gaya’ by Sunil Deshpande) He was financially unstable in the later part of his career and the dubbing technology saved him and helped make ends meet. It is said that he never cared to save for his future and faced financial difficulties in later part of his career.
Such a person, full of talents should have achieved great success in Hindi films. He was acclaimed for his songs, but was never considered as a first class composer. Even if he could have composed for social films (and he did a few socials too!), he stuck to his image of composer for mythological films. His entire career was woven around mythological, religious, historical and B grade costume dramas.
He is none other than, Shri Nath Tripathi or S N Tripathi. He was born in 1913, in Banaras. Some sites mention his birth date as 14th Dec, the others 13th March. So I’ll go with the year. His grand father & father were teachers and hence he had a strong academic background. But though he was not bad at studies, his attention used to get diverted to music & musical instruments. After graduation (some sites mention, before the last year of graduation), he enrolled himself in Marris college, Lucknow. He became expert in various Indian as well as western instruments. His sense and knowledge of classical music was excellent. His compositions reflect his creativity with the use of various instruments and Raagas in Hindi films. He is remembered along with Naushad & Vasant Desai for best use of classical music in Hindi film songs.
Khorshid Minocher Homji (aka Saraswati Devi) was his teacher at Lucknow, who was much impressed with her pupil. So much so that, when Himanshu Rai visited the college and requested her to join Bombay Talkies, she was inclined to take him with her. He joined Bombay Talkies as a violin player in 1935 and soon became chief assistant music director to Saraswati Devi. He had a knowledge of making notations for the musicians and was a good music arranger too! He learnt a lot there. He sang a few songs for his mentor in her films. He assisted Saraswati Devi for three years. He started assisting her in Jeevan Naiya (1936), Ashok Kumar’s first film. Tripathi also acted as a supporting character in the movie, and sang a song ‘Ae Ri Daiyya Lachak Lachak’. It was the beginning of his long journey and association with Hindi films. In 1938, Bhabhi was the last film, he assisted Saraswati Devi for. In 1955, he joined Saraswati Devi to compose for the film, Inaam, but only a few sites credit the music jointly to both. Most of the sites credit only one song to Saraswati Devi.
His first ‘released’ film as an independent composer was Dhirubhai Desai’s Chandan in 1941. It is said that he started working for Gajanan Jahagirdar’s ‘Charanan Ki Dasi’ in 1939, but it got delayed and released in the same year, 1941, but after the movie, Chandan. After this, in the year 1943, his social film ‘Panghat’ brought him fame with the duets, he sang with Rajkumari. He composed for a few more socials, like Shararat, Bachpan, Ramayani, Jee Haan and a few mythological films in late 40s. He acted in a few of them, Uttara Abhimanyu (1946) and Shri Ram Bhakt Hanuman (1948) being the notable ones.
The latter film saw him playing the character of Hanuman, and he became popular for that character and was offered the same role in a few of his later films.
He also acted as main lead in the film Saudamini (1950) and of course composed for it. From 1951 to 1987, more than 95% of his films were mythological or religious. In 60s, he got some good offers for social films, like Piya Milan Ki Aas, but he could not break the tightly woven web of mythology. Perhaps, he never wanted to come out of his shell of costume dramas. After all, somebody has to have a specialisation for those films and Tripathi was spot on! At the peak of his career, his songs were melodious, with sweet tunes, and strongly classical based. That sweetness seems infectious, as Chitragupta’s song reflect, who was with him as his assistant, from 1946 to 1951. Tripathi worked jointly with his mentor, in Inaam. Similarly he worked jointly with his assistant Chitragupt, for Alibaba aur chalis Chor (1954), where the duo delivered memorable songs like ‘Ae Saba Unse Keh Zara‘ & ‘Dekho Ji Chand Nikla‘.
He directed around 18 films, from 1957 to 1976. His first directorial venture was Rani Rupmati in 1957. The same year saw him directing Ram Hanuman Yuddh as well. Other notable films, directed by him include, Kavi Kalidas, Sangeet Samrat Tansen, Maharaja Vikram. His last directed movie was Nag Champa in 1976. Many of those were musical hits and are still remembered for the songs. He worked as an actor in many of the films, he directed. He also acted in other films. His acting career also continued till 1987. It seems, he didn’t concentrate on one specialty and he was also known to try something new, but at the expense of his other creativities. So after certain years, his quality of songs also was affected. He was never known as a good film director.
As he was more comfortable with mythological, historical films, his favourite lyricist was Bharat Vyas (and I’ve covered their association in my post on Bharat Vyas), who continued writing for him in 70s & 80s as well. One more forgotten lyricist also had a long, successful & melodious association with Tripathi. He was B D Mishra. I don’t know, how many of us know about him. His career was more or less limited to Tripathi’s films. But the songs were good, even some of Tripathi’s best are penned by him. But as usual the lyricist never gets his due. Tripathi also had a brief association with Shailendra. His meaningful and simple lyrics were very aptly decorated by Tripathi. I have selected some songs of the duo on the list, the listeners can decide for themselves about the quality. He also worked with other prominent lyricists, Hasrat Jaipuri, Qamar Jalalabadi, Prem Dhawan, to name a few! And also with some forgotten lyricists, like Akhtar Romani.
If we consider about the playback singers, Lata Mangeshkar and Rafi are as usual ubiquitous. He also offered few songs to Mukesh & Manna Dey. I think the former was his choice for a few songs, irrespective of the genre, and the latter for classical based songs. So we find Mukesh in his songs of 1960s, from costume dramas. Not to forget ‘Jhoomti Chali Hawa‘ which was offered to Mukesh, despite being a classical based song. And we find Manna Dey in classical songs of Kavi Kalidas, Rani Rupmati, & Sangeet Samrat Tansen.
Mahendra Kapoor also got a place in his team, but not so consistently, so was Talat, who hardly got a place as a regular singer in Tripathi’s films.
As for female singers, Lata and only Lata dominated his songs. Still for a number of low budget films & costume dramas, Suman Kalyanpur got a place. And Asha Bhosle also had the same fate. Here I’ve mainly considered his peak years of success, from 1955-56 to 1964-65. Later his films were neither popular nor were the songs memorable.
Before I start the song list, a mention about the Binaca Geetmala. In 1957, the song from Janam Janam Ke Phere was so popular that, it achieved first position in the final program. There were very strong contenders to the song. Other stalwarts had their best in the competition, but the audience supported the song. In 1959, again Rani Rupmati was a musical hit. Aa Laut Ke Aaja Mere Meet was on 6th position in the final program. Unfortunately none of his other songs could achieve success in Binaca Geetmala, though were popular otherwise. It is said that, his late days were not financially good, and he was active till 1987. His last film as a composer, is said to be a film called, ‘Sant Singaji’, which was in Nemadi language.
He expired on 28th March 1988, in Mumbai.
Today, let’s celebrate his 31st death anniversary, by memorising some of the his song that I like. Let’s start the list, as usual the songs are in no particular order…………….
1. Tum Bin Soona Jeevan Mera – Shri Ram Bhakt Hanuman (1948) Mukesh / Lyrics – B D Mishra
The song opens with the verses from श्री रामचरितमानस.
“हे खग मृग, हे मधुकर श्रेणी
तुम देखी सीता मृगनैनी”
Shri Ram is afflicted by Seeta’s forceful abduction. He asks the animals and birds, the bumblebees (भँवरा) about Seeta. He doesn’t find her easily and is heartbroken. Ram enquires about her to everyone, including flowers and greenery. It’s as if he lost his life. He yells for Seeta, the pain now unbearable.
The song goes very much with the typical vintage era, subtle instruments, not overpowering the tune, but giving it a basic rhythm. Tripathi was well aware of Mukesh’s voice range. At the end, the song ends at a high pitch, but before he has to stretch it beyond his range.
2. Ho Sake To Dil Ke Badle – Aladdin Aur Jadui Chirag (1952) Rafi, Shamshad Begum, Asha Bhosle & Chitragupt / Lyrics – Anjum Jaipuri
Though Tripathi was composing for a decade, he got instant recognition with the songs from this movie. Homi Wadia’s fantasy had a scope for trick photography and special effects, but less for music. But the songs from this costume drama were hits and left the composer, happy memories of success.
Have a look at the delightful romantic song, Rafi and Shamshad singing for the lead pair and Asha Bhosle and Chitragupt for the side pair. A typical Arabian based music, but certainly different than Tripathi’s usual mythology tunes. And such a visual treat to watch young and gorgeous Meena Kumari! So beautiful she looks!
Is the actor in the side role Tripathi himself? His name appears in the titles in starring section.
3. Zara Samne To Aao Chhaliye – Janam Janam Ke Phere (1957) Lata Mangeshkar & Rafi / Lyrics – Bharat Vyas
Though this song was a part of my Bharat Vyas post, I repeated it. It was one of Tripathi’s most popular songs. It proved that, if the lyrics and tune are good, the song is a success, whether it’s from a social film or a devotional religious film. The song feels like a devotee is directly speaking to the God.
4. Parwar Digar E Alam – Hatim Tai (1956) Rafi / Lyrics – Akhtar Romani
Yet another costume drama, this time with Jairaj and Shakila. It’s one of the his best known songs. A troubled man seeks almighty’s help finally. He praises his various incarnations and begs for his assistance. A beautiful composition.
I’ve heard a story about the song, which goes like this. A special show of the film, Hatim Tai was arranged for the Nizam of Hyderabad. He liked the song so much that he asked to play it three four times, before proceeding for the rest of the film. The projector person rewinded the film reels for Nizam.
5. Na Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor Hoon – Lal Qila (1961) Rafi / Lyrics – Bahadur Shah Zafar
The film was certainly another feather in Tripathi’s cap. The song makes alive the agony, the last emperor went through. Tripathi was intelligent enough, not to use any rhythm instruments in both the Rafi solos, written by Bahadur Shah. The helpless emptiness and feeling of a hopeless existence, makes me tearful.
Recently Javed Akhtar claimed it to be a ghazal written by his grandfather Muztar Khairabadi, and that was thought to express the feelings of Zafar, when he was in exile in Rangoon. Regardless of its original writer, it’s a captivating and touchy ghazal, even though it has a strong touch of self-pity.
6. Sham Bhai Ghanshyam Na Aaye – Kavi Kalidas (1959) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Bharat Vyas
Another directorial venture by Tripathi. It’s a good movie, with completely mesmerizing songs. This song is one of the popular songs from the movie.
7. Binati Karat Mori Payal – Ram Hanuman Yuddh (1957) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Shailendra
For those who haven’t seen Nirupa Roy dancing Bharatanatyam, here it is! Shailendra has penned some beautiful songs for the movie. She appears conscious about the dance steps, and does them with efforts, and low confidence. No idea, if she was a trained dancer.
8. Taaron Bhari Raat Hai – Pakshiraaj (1959) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – B D Mishra
It was Tripathi’s directorial venture, and he composed for it obviously. The song soothes the ears and the soul, flowing like silk. Very less instruments used, main responsibility is on the melody. The tune is very similar to one of Chitragupt songs, but it would be obvious enough. It’s not a well known song, but worth listening to. The tune sounds westernised and Tripathi had a knowledge of Indian and western instruments, which he used aptly in his songs.
9. Aao Re He Girdhari – Rajrani Meera (1953) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – B D Mishra
Even in not so popular, obscure film, Tripathi has given this beautiful bhajan. The apprehension and emotions appear too intense. The interludes further help build the tension.
10. Jhananan Jhan Baje Payaliya – Rani Rupmati (1957) Lata Mangeshkar & Rafi / Lyrics – Bharat Vyas
Rani Rupmati was Tripathi’s first directorial venture. The film is full of melodious songs, very difficult to select a song. This classical based song has an enchanting melody and tune. His deep knowledge and zeal for classical music is so apparent here. It’s so pleasant to hear and such a sweet tune. Really a honey dipped song.
11. Sudh Bisar Gayi – Sangeet Samrat Tansen (1962) Rafi & Manna Dey / Lyrics – Shailendra
This film was directed by Tripathi and he also composed for it. The film has around 12+ songs, and all of them are strongly classical based, but still can be enjoyed by all. The songs have been presented in a listener friendly manner. Tripathi has offered Tansen’s songs to four singers. Mukesh, Manna Dey, Rafi and Mahendra Kapoor. While strongly classical based ‘Sapta Suran Teen Gram’ is sung by Manna Dey, equally important ‘Deepak Jalao’ is sung by Rafi.
This wonderrful duet by Rafi and Manna Dey has a catchy rhythm, that captures our attention.
12. Mehaa Aao Re – Sangeet Samrat Tansen (1962) Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle / Lyrics – Shailendra
This song has been a discovery for me, for no details of the song are available on sites. It’s based on Raag, Megh Malhar, and sung by Lata and Asha Bhosle. Asha’s name is mentioned in the credits, but I couldn’t associate her with any other known song from the movie. And the other voice does sounds like hers. Both of them sung the aalaps so easily and with expertise. We tend to get involved in the song, due to its apt expressions and excellent use of tabla in the initial part of the song.
A beautifully composed song, Tani and her Sakhi are begging for the rain, so as to save Tansen’s life. The latter is badly ill and only rains can save him from agony. Rain starts just before she finishes singing.
13. O Pawan Veg Se Udane Wale Ghode – Jai Chitod (1961) Lata Mangeshkar / Lyrics – Bharat Vyas
A historical film, based on Maharana Pratap, had Jairaj and Nirupa Roy in main lead. Tripathi created the sounds of horse’s rhythmic footsteps that sounds very natural and real. It makes the song a foot tapping number, though it’s not meant to be so. But it helps to get involved in the song to the fullest.
14. Pyar Ke Pal Chhin – Kunwari (1966) Lata Mangeshkar & Talat / Lyrics – Shailendra
Kunwari was a social film, written and directed by Tripathi, who of course composed the songs. Both the versions are quite popular, and we find beautiful opening piece of piano in Lata’s song, and throughout the song, piano is used effectively, more so in the interludes. This film could have saved him and washed away the mark of mythology. But that didn’t happen.
Talat’s song picturised on Ravindra Kapoor is equally popular. And could be taken as one of his last popular songs.
15. Aankh Mili To Dil Dhadka – Cobra Girl (1963) Asha Bhosle / Lyrics – Prem Dhawan
The movie was a typical costume drama, from the Nagin series of films. Though I adore, ‘Nazar Ko Sambhalo’ by Mukesh and Suman Kalyanpur, it has already appeared twice on my blog. This dance number may not be much popular, but I chose it particularly for its different tune. It has a mixture of Spanish tap dance and Arabian flavour. The song has a long opening music and the actual words at 02:15. Though you may not like it at first go, you will keep on humming it the whole day. And later it’ll grow on you. No points for guessing, Ragini has also done a good job.
16. Jadu Bhare Tore Naina Katile – Jadu Nagari (1961) Asha Bhosle & Mahendra Kapoor / Lyrics – Hasrat Jaipuri
A song with catchy, foot tapping rhythm, from an obscure film. He didn’t offer many songs to the either of the singers of the song. But this song with catchy rhythm makes us tap our feet. I think, Tripathi changed his style slightly according to the film, but still failed to lead himself as a social film composer. Some of his beautiful songs, sung by Asha Bhosle can also be heard in Dev Kanya (1963).
17. Mane Na Mera Bichhua Bole – Maharaja Vikram (1965) Suman Kalyanpur / Lyrics – B D Mishra
A classical based dance number sung by Sumanji. The song flows like a cool breeze with a typical sweet melody by Tripathi. After mid 60s, somehow Tripathi lost the Midas touch and his later songs never become popular. But he continued directing and composing for Hindi films. He got a limited success with Bhojpuri and Awadhi films.
Would you add your favourite to the list?
Mehfil Mein Meri, claims no credit for any image, screenshots or songs posted on this site. Images on this blog are posted to make the text interesting. The images and screenshots are the copyright of their original owners. The song links are shared from YouTube, only for the convenience of music lovers. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners, producers and music companies.