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India mourns loss of Bappi Lahiri as his legacy set to live on – and his contribution to international music and movies…

India mourns loss of Bappi Lahiri as his legacy set to live on – and his contribution to international music and movies…

The country said farewell to one of its most popular musical figures and his work went far and wide…

by Rodrigues C

SINGER-COMPOSER Bappi Lahiri (69) passed away on February 15 at his Mumbai home.

Known as the disco king of India, he was suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea and was undergoing treatment since a month at a city hospital.

Bappi Da, as he was fondly known, was born as Alokesh Lahiri in the East Indian state of West Bengal.

His initiation into the world of music started at an early age of three thanks to his parents, singers Aparesh Lahiri and Bansuri Lahiri and his maternal uncle, actor and playback singer Kishore Kumar.

His first composition came in the form of the Bengali movie ‘Dadu’ (1969) for which Lata Mangeshkar also sang.

He moved to Mumbai at 19. His debut Bollywood film, ‘Nanha Shikari’ (1973), failed to make an impact, musically and at the box office. But it was ‘Aao tumhe chand pe le jaayen’ and ‘Jalta hai jiya mera’ from ‘Zakhmee’ (1975), for which Lahiri even sang ‘Nothing is impossible, kehta hoon main sach bilkul’, cemented his reputation. The title song of ‘Chalte Chalte’ (1976) and the peppy ‘Bambai se aaya mera dost’ from ‘Aap Ki Khatir’ (1977) , which was sang by Lahiri, gave him his first big hits.

In the 1970s, Disco had taken over the West.

Lahiri decided to bring the form of music to Indian ears but with a local twist. His experiment, ‘Surakksha‘ (1979), didn’t find too many takers but he did manage to build a lasting bond with the film’s lead, debutant Mithun Chakraborty, which would deliver hits such as ‘Wardat‘ (1981), ‘Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki‘ (1984), ‘Muddat‘ (1986), ‘Dance Dance‘ (1987), ‘Guru‘ (1989) and ‘Disco Dancer’ (1982), which eventually became a milestone in Lahiri’s career. Its soundtrack, with chartbusters such as ‘Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy aaja’, ‘I am a disco dancer’, ‘Yaad aa raha aai’ and ‘Goro ki na kaalo ki’, went platinum in India and received a Gold award in China. The film’s popularity, purely due to its music, extended to the rest of the world and is still considered to be one of the highest grossing Indian movies. The credit for Amitabh Bachchan’s ascent in the 1980s goes to Lahiri, who composed hits for his films ‘Namak Halal’ (1982) and ‘Sharaabi’ (1984). His association with Jeetendra, Sridevi and Jaya Prada delivered 12 box office hits that included ‘Himmatwala’, ‘Justice Chaudhury‘, ‘Jaani Dost‘ and ‘Maawali‘ (1983) and ‘Tohfa‘ (1984).

The 1990s saw the arrival of younger composers such as Anand-Milind, Jatin-Lalit, Nikhil-Vinay but Lahiri continued to deliver, giving hits such as ‘Tamma tamma’ from ‘Thanedaar’, ‘Sochna kya’ from ‘Ghayal’ and ‘Gori hai kalaiyan’ from ‘Aaj Ka Arjun’ (1990) and ‘Gutur gutur’ from ‘Dalaal’ (1993).

In ‘Rock Dancer’ (1995), he had British pop sensation Samantha Fox groove to his song ‘Traffic jam’ in a red chiffon sari. In the 2000s, Lahiri lent his voice to hit such as ‘Bambai nagariya’ from ‘Taxi No 9211’ (2006), ‘Ooh la la’ from ‘The Dirty Picture’ (2011) and ‘Tune maari entriyaan’ from ‘Gunday’ (2014). ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ and ‘Jhoom, jhoom, jhoom baba’ made their way to the Hollywood films ‘You Don’t Mess With The Zohan’ (2008) and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy‘ (2014).

Rapper MIA sampled his song ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ for her album ‘Kala‘. In 2002, American singer Truth Hurts used a riff from Lahiri’s ‘Kaliyon ka chaman’ while ‘Come closer’ made it to the soundtrack of ‘Lion’ (2016). American artist Rakim sampled his song ‘Thoda resham lagta hai’. His last song was ‘Bhankas’ for ‘Baaghi‘ (2020).

The last two decades saw little from Lahiri. But thanks to numerous reality shows, his past hits, his sartorial choices and his bling, he remained one of the most sought after musicians in India.

He sang in Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Gujarati and won millions of hearts with his charm. He lent his voice to Amitabh Bachchan, Jeetendra, Rishi Kapoor, Mithun Chakraborty, Govinda, Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Sanjay Dutt and Aamir Khan and worked with Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhosle, Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, P Susheela, Yesudas, SP Balasubramaniam and S Janaki.

Lahiri leaves behind his wife Chitrani, daughter Reema and son Bappa.

“Music director extraordinaire passes away .. shocked and surprised and in the misery of these tragic events of ‘passing’ in the rapid succession of times .. his songs of films with me are and shall I believe remain eternal .. they are played hummed sung along in these modern generation times with alacrity and rejoice .. and the ability of his sense of success with a particular moment, untethered .. checking in to board a flight at Heathrow from London to home and a gentle tap on your shoulder.”

Amitabh Bachchan

“Your voice was the reason for millions to dance, including me. Thank you for all the happiness you brought through your music.”

Akshay Kumar

“Bappi Da gave us some great musical films like Saheb, Mohabbat , Insaaf Ki Awaaz and Zindagi ek jua…the song pyaar bina hain kahan re will remain iconic.. Will miss his warm , humble and child like innocence always”

Anil Kapoor

“Bappi Da, you have left the world, but you will stay in our hearts forever.”

Sanjay Dutt

“This is a big loss for the Hindi music industry. Today we’ve lost a gem with a golden heart and a golden voice while the heaven found it’s treasure. You’ll be truly missed.”

Madhuri Dixit

“The Gold Standard in music…. The Disco King forever…. He will be truly missed forever. RIP Bappida.”

Karan Johar

Akolesh (Bappi) Lahiri, born Calcutta (Kolkata), November 27, 1952, singer-composer died February 15 2022 (aged 69).

UK pays tribute to Bappi Lahiri

Picture credit: Bappi Lahiri Official Instagram (see below please)


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Written by Asian Culture Vulture