Mohan hamaare madhuban mein.. : Shyam Babu Pathak and Geeta Roy

Shyam Babu Pathak

What would you term 20 song collaboration from a maverick composer and a talented singer? Sadly the wonderful music created by the composer Shyam Babu Pathak and young Geeta Roy is all but forgotten. 18 out of the 20 songs they created together came between the years 1949 and 1952 for just five films. By the mid fifties, Shyam Babu’s music was no longer a commercially viable option and soon he was forgotten just like dozens of other talented composers of the golden era. After intensive search on the internet, the only resource for any information on him was “Dhunon ki yaatra” by Pankaj Raag. Other than his article, no other information or photo of Shyam Babu Pathak was available anywhere. In addition to the 18 songs for Hindi films mentioned above, Shyam Babu Pathak also composed two Jain devotional songs (Stavans) in the voices of Geeta, Mohantara and himself. These could have been recorded in the late fifties or sometime in the sixties.

Shyam Babu Pathak began his career in the late 30s with stunt films like Royal Commander, Raani Saahiba, Torpedo and Shamsherbaaz. He received moderate success with his score in social films like Maalan, Ghar Sansaar, Pyaara Watan in the year 1942. A few years later, he teamed up with lyricist Indivar who made his debut with film Double Face (1946) and for films Black Market and Namak (both 1947). His first song with the new number one singer Geeta Roy came in the year 1949 for the film Imtihaan directed by Mohan Sinha. It is a heart wrecking melancholy “Zindagi bhaati nahin aur maaut bhi aati nahin”.

The same year, the film Jeet starring the star pair of Dev Anand and Suraiya came in. The majority of the songs were composed by legendary composer Anil Biswas ji. Shyam Babu Pathak composed a few songs for this film including two lovely songs by young Geeta Roy. One was a devotional song filmed on veteran actress Durga Khote ji (Suno suno banwaari mori) and the other was a dance sequence Kyun dukh jhelo praan gawaao featuring the fight of man v/s machines. Geeta sang these two diametrically opposite songs with great skills. These two songs did not get the fame as against the rest of the songs of the film, nevertheless, the singer-composer collaboration had started on a great note. The only thing it needed was an appropriate album to showcase their talents.

The very next year saw the release of the mythological film Janmashtami (1950) starring the beautiful Shobhna Samarth. This album had as many as four solos by young Geeta Roy, all filmed on the leading actress. Rich yet simple lyrics by the hugely talented Pandit Bharat Vyas play a great role in these songs. The audio of one song “Mann maane ki baat” is not available but the rest three songs are marvelous. The pick of the album is the devotional song “Mohan hamaare madhuban mein aaya naa karo”. This must be fairly popular in those days as Udit Narayan sang it as a private song several years later. The other song “Haan baiyya kyun humse chhoday gaye Kaanha kahaan se main dhoondhoo” is another excellent example of Bhaav gaayaki (soulful singing) by young Geeta conveying the emotions of Radha. In the late forties and early fifties she must have sung a couple of dozen songs on the eternal theme of Radha-Krishna. This song is surely one among the top songs in that list.

Preet Ka Geet
The same year saw the release of the film Preet Ka Geet (1950) which has the largest number of songs by Geeta in a film for MD Shyam Babu Pathak. She sang four solos and two trios with Mukesh and Zohrajaan Ambalewali. The song “Kholo kholo mann ke dwaar muraari re” is the pick of the album and arguably the best song she sang under the baton of Shyam Babu Pathak. The songs for this film were penned by famous poet Harikrishna Premi. The trio song “Ek taraf jal rahaa deepak” is still remembered the music lovers for its special treatment and lovely musical pieces. The Geeta-SBP combo was about be on a roll with more melodies in the coming years.The destiny had however something else in mind.

After a gap of one year, the year 1952 saw two films with music composed by Shyam Babu Pathak both featuring a couple of songs each by Geeta. Aye kaari koyaliya ab kaahe kook rahi from Sapna (1952) was another example of simple song with complex emotions rendered with finesse. For “Door nagariya tori” Geeta and her Aapa, Shamshad paired up. For the film Hamaari Duniya (1952), Shyam Babu Pathak seems to have changed his style to suit the modern musical trends. The solo Geeta song Chupke chupke teer chale is another rare song not easily available for listening pleasure. In this film Shyam Babu Pathak used as diverse voices like Lata Mangeshkar, Madhubala Zaveri, Rajkumari and Geeta Roy. The melody was still ruling in the song “Woh nafarat se daaman chhuda kar chale” yet the songs and the film did not get the commercial success.

With the onslaught of newer and more successful composers like Shankar-Jaikishen, Shyam Babu Pathak was not the first choice for the film producers. It seems that he had a long dry spell till the year 1960 for a stunt film Bombay Central. The above 18 songs between the years 1949 and 1952 were the only output of this wonderful composer and talented singer collaboration. Somewhere in the sixties, Shyam Babu Pathak composed a couple of Jain devotional songs (Stavans). “Bolo he Nemnaath” and ” Vandana karo jain veer ki Mahaveer ki” were recorded in the voices of Shyam Babu Pathak himself, Geeta Dutt and Mohantara. This gives an indication that Shyam Babu Pathak was probably from the Jain community, mostly the first composer coming much before the famous Ravindra Jain.

Eighteen songs in three years and two non-film songs is not a great output just going by the numbers. None of these songs are hugely popular as well. What is special about this collaboration is the simplicity, sweetness and charm of the melodies they created.


Rare photo of Shyam Babu Pathak and information about him is from the book “Dhunon ki yaatra” by Pankaj Raag.

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4 Responses to “Mohan hamaare madhuban mein.. : Shyam Babu Pathak and Geeta Roy”

  1. Robin Bhat says:

    Thank you for the article. It may be about the only one retaining the legacy, however modest, of a music director from the golden era. And in the world of Hindi film music, every drop is what makes an ocean.

    Would you have any details about Shyam Babu Pathak’s ‘Bombay Central’ (1960 release) ?

    The songs are listed at a few sites (source from the ‘Humraaz’ book, no doubt) but the singers are not known. Perhaps they were recorded but never published (i.e. the movie was aborted?)



  2. From as early as 14 years of age I was desperately finding this number from film Sapna ( i never saw the film) but the song ‘ae kaari koyelia’ grew up with me. I even did not know who composed it but I have always loved this song which I finally found on internet after over 52 years. It is hard to define how I felt.
    Today learning about Shyam babu Pathak I am enthralled how a lot of great composers failed to achieve their worth. i was shocked the same way when I found out the great maestro like Bullo.C.Rani committed suicide in his late sixtees or early seventees of neglect and impoverishment.
    Please accept my deep thanks for contributing such a great information about an artist that is conletely forgotten.

  3. pankaj rag says:

    Thanks for quoting me so often in your blog.Really wish to meet you.My contact no is 08800211162.

  4. Gajendra Khanna says:

    Pankaj ji,
    your work is a great reference for us and we are glad to quote it as a reference. It will be great for Parag, me and other contributors to the site to meet you. I am sending in a mail to you for the connect. Thanks for your great work!

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