Remembering S. N. Tripathi on his 29th death anniversary.

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S. N. Tripathi also known as Shri Nath Tripathi (14 March 1913–28 March 1988) was a composer, whose active years were from the 1930s to the 1980s. Tripathi’s multi-faceted work range included being a composer, writer, actor, and director of films. His debut film as an independent composer was Chandan (1942). He was the first composer tomake use of the slogan “Jai Hind” (Victory to India) in a song in films, during the end of the British Raj. The song was “Jai Hind, Jai Hind, Jai Hind, Yeh Hind Ki Kahaniyan” from the film Mansarovar (1946). He gained popularity as an actor when he started playing the role of Hanuman in mythological and religious films like Homi Wadia’s Hanuman Pataal Vijay (1951).

Tripathi turned to direction in 1957 starting with Rani Roopmati. Two of his films with Nirupa Roy and Bharat Bhushan, Rani Roopmati (1959) and Kavi Kalidas (1959), are cited as having “cinematic merit” and “unforgettable music”.

In 1935, Tripathi arrived in Bombay and found work as a violinist assisting music director Saraswati Devi at Bombay Talkies. His first film as a composer was Chandan (1942). He continued to compose for films like Janam Janam Ke Phere (1957), where the song “Zara Saamne Toh Aao Chhaliye” became the top Binaca Geetmala song. Trained as a classicist, the popularity of his songs from Rani Roopmati, Sangeet Samrat Tansen (1962) and other films has been attributed to Tripathi’s mixing of Rajasthani folk with musical instruments like shehnai and mandolin, which never “offended sensibilities”, yet had the “pulsating dance-like quality”. His “experimental compositions” like “Na Kisi Ki Ankh Ka Noor Hoon” and “Lagta Nahin Hai Dil Mera” from the film Lal Qila (1960) remain popular. According to Raju Bharatan, Ustad Amir Khan derisory of film music composers, rated Naushad, S. N. Tripathi and Vasant Desai and to a lesser extent C. Ramchandra as notable composers. He gave music for several mythological and fantasy films and was “tagged as a mythological composer”.

Interested in acting, Tripathi’s first role was in the film Jeevan Naiya (1936). He acted in Uttara Abhimanyu (1946) and then played the role of Hanuman in the Homi Wadia directed Ram Bhakt Hanuman (1948) where he also composed the music, his first prominent role as an actor. He was to continue playing the character of Hanuman in several films, including Homi Wadia’s film, Hanuman Patal Vijay (1951).

Besides acting and composing music, Tripathi began directing films in 1957. He first directorial venture was Rani Roopmati for which he also composed the music. In 1959, Tripathi directed Kavi Kalidas and Pakshiraj as well Ram Hanuman Yudh. He ventured into directing Bhojpuri films like Bidesiya (1963), which became a success at the box-office. He continued to direct films till 1976 when he directed Naag Champa, his last film as a director.

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