S. N. Tripathi : The Ardent Classical Yet Modern Composer

S. N. Tripathi

S. N. Tripathi

Shri Nath Tripathi or S. N. Tripathi was the one of those noted composers in Indian music industry, whose music reflected the Indian classical saga through five decades. Since 1930s to 1980s, he gave out preeminent songs that are inimitable even today.

The multi-talented S. N. Tripathi was not only a composer but also a singer, actor, script-writer and director . However, composing had been his first choice and he primarily concentrated on music direction throughout his career.

S. N. Tripathi

S. N. Tripathi

S. N. Tripathi was born on the 14th of March in 1913 in the sacred city of Varanasi (Banaras) in Uttar Pradesh. He belonged to a very educated family. His grandfather and father were eminent figures in the society. Pandit Ganesh Dutt Tripathi, his grandfather, was the principal of Sanskrit Vidyapith in Kashi. Pandit Damodar Dutt Thakur, his father, was also the principal of the Government High School of Kashi.

S.N. Tripathi was a Bachelor in Science from Allahabad. He took training in classical music from the Morris College of Lucknow which was established by V. N. Bhatkhande. He earned degrees of ‘Sangeet Praveen’ and ‘Sangeet Visharad’ from Prayag Sangeet Samiti and Morris College respectively. He also took training in classical and folk music from Maina Devi in Lucknow.

Early days in Bombay:
In 1935, he joined Bombay Talkies as a violinist. Later, he was appointed as an assistant to the then popular composer Saraswati Devi. He was paid Rs. 100 per month as his salary during that time. In 1936, he sang the song ‘Ae re daiya lachak lachak chalo’ for the first time for Ashok Kumar in the movie ‘Jeevan Naiya’. The song was composed by Saraswati Devi.

In 1938, he left Bombay Talkies and his last movie with them was ‘Bhabhi’. Dhirubhai Desai’s ‘Chandan’ gave him his first break as a music director in 1939. ‘Nanha sa dil deti hoon’ from ‘Chandan’ was a duet of Rajkumari and S. N. Tripathi himself. Unfortunately, the release of the movie got delayed and it finally saw the light of the day in 1941. However, ‘Panghat’ in 1943 gave him his first success as a composer. He also composed for movies like ‘Choodiyan’, ‘Seva’ and ‘Duniya tumhaari hai’ in 1942.

As an Actor:
In 1936, his acting debut happened with the film ‘Jeevan Naiya’ where he played the role of a character named as ‘Chand’. In 1946, he again came on-screen in the movie ‘Uttara Abhimanyu’ for which he composed music as well. He also acted in ‘Woh Zamaana’ which was his 1947 release. In 1948, he played the primary role of Hanuman in the movie ‘Shree Ram Bhakt Hanuman’ and also composed music for it.

S. N. Tripathi playing the role of Hanuman in one of the scenes of Ram Hanuman Yuddh

S. N. Tripathi playing the role of Hanuman in one of the scenes of Ram Hanuman Yuddh

In 1949, he was in ‘Veer Ghatotkach’. He again was on screen in 1951 in ‘Jai Maha Kali’. His other noted films as an actor are ‘Bhakt Puran’ (1952), ‘Aladdin aur jadui chiraag’ (1952), ‘Alibaba and 40 Theives’ (1954), ‘Ganga Maiyya’ (1955), ‘Chiraag-e-cheen’ (1955), ‘Bhagwat Mahima’ (1955), ‘Delhi Durbaar’ (1956), ‘Janam Janam Ke Phere’ (1957), ‘Kavi Kalidas’ (1959).

S. N. Tripathi

S. N. Tripathi

He can also be seen in ‘Piya Milan Ki Aas’ (1961), ‘Bidesiyan’ (1963), ‘Meeting’ (1970), ‘Maha Shivratri’ (1972), ‘Vishnu Puraan’ (1973), ‘Banarasi Babu’ (1973), ‘Jai Radha Krishna’ (1974), ‘Balak Dhruv’ (1974), ‘Ponga Pandit’ (1975), ‘Jai Mahalaxmi Maa’ (1976), ‘Har Har Gange’ (1979), ‘Mahabali Hanuman’ (1981), ‘Paan khaaye saiyaan humaar’ (1984), ’108 Teerthyatra’ (1987) and many more. ’108 Teerthyatra’ was his last movie.

As a Director:
His first directorial venture was ‘Rani Rupmati’ in 1957 followed by ‘Ram Hanuman Yuddh’, ‘Kavi Kalidas, ‘Pakshi Raj’, ‘Piya Milan Ki Aas’, ‘Amrit Manthan’, ‘Sangeet Samrat Tansen’, ‘Shiv Parvati’, ‘Dev Kanya’, ‘Bidesiyaan’, ‘Maharaja Vikram’, ‘Kunwari’, ‘Lav-Kush’, ‘Nadir Shah’, ‘Lahu Pukarega’, ‘Aulad’, ‘Sati Sulochana’, and ‘Naag Champa’. As a director his last movie was ‘Naag Champa’ in 1976.

As a Writer:
He started to write screenplays, stories and dialogues from 1967. His first movie as a writer was ‘Lav Kush’ in 1967 followed by ‘Subhadra Haran’ in 1974, ‘Mahasati Tulsi’ in 1985 and more.

Dropping Curtain Over Criticism:
Tripathi was considered and labeled as a devoted and traditional composer. Most of his movies were mythology based which eventually got him the tag of being a ‘mythological composer’. However, this talented musician dropped curtain on all his critics by composing some outstanding tracks. ‘Jhoomti hai nazar, jhoomta hai pyar’ by Mohammad Rafi and Asha Bhosle from ‘Hatim Tai’ surprisingly became a super hit song among the masses. The 1960 release ‘Lal Quila’ presented ghazals that brought a new trend in Hindi cinema.

Lal Quila (Poster)

Lal Quila (Poster)

‘Aa lautke aa jaa mere meet’ by Mukhesh and Lata Mangeshkar for ‘Rani Rupmati’, ‘Raat suhaani jhoome jawaani’ by Lata Mangeshkar in ‘Rani Rupmati’, ‘Na kisi ki aankh na noor hoon’ by Mohammad Rafi from ‘Lal Quila’, ‘Nain ke chain churaa kar le gayi’ by Mukhesh from ‘Chandramukhi’, ‘Tune chal kiya’ by Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar from ‘Piya Milan Ki Aas’ deserves special mention.

No-Compromise on Classical Music:
Tripathi composed music for almost five decades. With time, musical preferences and tastes changed. ‘Music for mass’ no longer carried the flavour of classical touch. But Tripathi never compromised on that front. He composed music with the most possible ‘classical yet modern’ touch which very few musicians could do so far.

S.N Tripathi took his last breath on 28th of March 1988.

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