His influence in popular culture reached far and wide and fellow composer Kuljit Bhamra was among those who worked with him in the UK…
HE WAS A MUCH-loved figure and his sad passing on Tuesday morning (February 15) continues to draw tributes from around the world.
Known as India’s Disco King, and sometimes India’s King of Bling – for his fondness wearing gold ornaments – his funeral and last rites took place earlier today in Mumbai.
Lahiri made his name as a singer and composer and played a huge part in composing and also singing hit songs for Bollywood films – especially in the 1980s and 1990s.
A host of Bollywood celebrities – both singers, music composers and actors – turned out for the sad occasion today – among them Vidya Balan, Mika Singh, Shakti Kapoor, Ila Arun and Bhushan Kumar.
His fame spread far and wide – he worked with British tabloid pin-up Samantha Fox who also had a parallel career in the 1980s as an international pop singer and Lahiri appeared on the Jonathan Ross Show on the BBC in 1989 – he both performed and was interviewed.
Kuljit Bhamra MBE, one of Britain’s best known and most respected composers and musicians told www.asianculturevulture.com: “Ross made fun of him a bit – but Bappi Dada (as some affectionately called him) took it in good spirits. He was a larger than life character in many ways.”
Reflecting on his work with the Indian King of Disco, Bhamra continued: “He was an extremely talented singer and composer.
“I had the pleasure of accompanying him at a couple of concerts during which he sang his own songs.
“It is rare in Bollywood that music directors sing their own compositions in the final soundtrack – especially at that time during the 1980s disco era, but Bappi could – and did with style.
“He could have easily sung all his compositions in the final soundtracks of his films. He had a classy vocal tone quality – and what they call ‘throw’ in the Bollywood industry. Throw refers to a singer’s ability to project to an audience in a cinema and reach the listener’s heart. This quality is often deemed more important than ‘technical precision’ when it comes to selecting a playback singer’s voice for an actor on screen. Excessively adorned with gold necklaces, pendants, bracelets and expensive watches, he enjoyed being in the spotlight – something that other musical directors and composers usually avoided!”
He said Lahiri enjoyed the limelight and saw himself as a star in his own right – and few would argue.
Bhamra also believes Lahiri was extremely open to other music styles and sought inspiration and influence from many others who also crossed boundaries.
His sartorial choices too were a reflection of his outgoing and flamboyant personality.
“Sometimes wearing a Michael Jackson style glove and military jacket, it’s fair to say that his influences ranged from James Brown to East Coast Gangsta Rap artists – again, all stars of stage and the spotlight,” commented Bhamra.
He feels the legacy he leaves will be immense.
Just as Lata Mangeshkar who died recently and was regarded as India’s nightingale – Lahiri worked with her at the start of his career and also similarly stole hearts and minds with his songs.
Bhamra reflected: “He demanded attention wherever he went – and quite rightly so in my opinion – he has composed some of the most heart-warming melodies in my own personal playlist of all time greats. Rest in Peace Bappi.”
Harpz Kaur, who hosts the breakfast show on the BBC Asian Network paid warm tribute to Lahiri yesterday.
She said: “The man behind some huge Bollywood anthems and he’s known as the King of Disco. This man used to have everyone up on his feet. The most striking characteristic about Bobby Lahiri was his bling, it’s the first thing we think (about him).”
Singer Navin Kundra said he was deeply saddened to hear the news.
“He brought disco music to Bollywood composed timeless music and will always be remembered as the King of Bling covered in gold. Thank you for the music. RIP BappiDa.”
Pop star Naughty Boy paid tribute to Lahiri on ITV news yesterday and viewers saw a picture of him with the Indian Disco King.
Bappi Lahiri leaves behind his wife Chitrani, daughter Reema and son Bappa.
Akolesh (Bappi) Lahiri, born Calcutta (Kolkata), November 27, 1952, singer-composer died February 15 2022 (aged 69).
Picture: Bappi Lahiri in the 1990s – see below from Bappi Lahiri Official Instagram