The king who gave disco to Bollywood is no more

Bappi Lahiri's composition for Disco Dancer was a watershed in Hindi film music, dividing it into pre and post the iconic movie

Sharmistha Ghosal Published :  16th February 2022 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  16th February 2022 12:00 AM

Bappi Lahiri

At a pedestrian level, Bappi Lahiri often triggered a lot of curiosity for the wrong reasons – the heavy gold jewellery that he wore and the way he didn’t care about putting on weight. But behind the air of twaddle and trivia shone the star, whose tune created some of the cult hits. Who can forget the foot-tapping notes of Disco Dancer that came to define a generation of popular songs in this country?

In fact, the songs from this iconic movie, that turned Mithun Chakraborty into a dancing star overnight, taught a whole new generation of Indians how to ‘disco’. Be it the title song or Jimmy Jimmy or Yaad Aa Raha Hai, all of them were chartbusters and a must in the playlists of all party-loving peeps.

Not just Mithun, he gave most of the superstars including Amitabh Bachchan, Jeetendra, Govinda, Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt and Ranveer Singh some of their best foot-tapping film songs.

But besides ruling the Bollywood charts, Bappi also left an indelible mark in the Bengali film industry. He composed songs for the film Amar Sangi and Guru Dakshina that launched Tolly superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee and actor Tapas Paul’s careers respectively. It’s incredible but true that the title songs of both the 1987 movies are still played loud and clear during Durga Pujas and other happy occasions across Kolkata and Bengal.

The master composer who started off his career in Bollywood with Nanha Shikari in 1973 is also remembered for the immortal tunes he created in movies like Dance Dance, Himmatwala, Namak Halal, Sharabi, Saheb (Yaar Bina Chain Kaha Re), Naakabandi, Ghayal, Sailaab (who can forget Madhuri Dixit swooning to Humko Ajkal hai Intezar?), Prem Pratigya, Thanedaar (Tamma Tamma) Zindagi Ek Jua, Shola Aur Shabnam and the iconic song Laal Dupatte Wali from Aankhen, the highest grosser in 1993.

Among his global collaborations, he is most recalled for the 2002 song Addictive by American R&B singer Truth Hurts who incorporated portions of Lahiri's song Thoda Resham Lagta Hai.

The numbers, though a trickle, still came flowing in the 21st century with such record-breaking songs like Ooh La La for Dirty Picture, and Tuney Mari Entry for Gunday and ended with Bhankas for Baaghi 3 in 2020.

In a sense, Alokesh Lahiri, popularly known by his nickname Bappi, could not have become anything but a man of music. His father Aparesh Lahiri was a classical singer, and so was his mother Bansuri Lahiri. Kishore Kumar, too, was a maternal uncle. In fact, the ever-smiling composer used to say to the scribes that music ran in his veins.

He was quite a wunderkind and had begun playing the tabla as a three-year-old with a tender pair of hands, earning repute among his relatives and his father’s musician colleagues. Apart from his music, Bappi Lahiri was known for all the gold that he flaunted. He once told in an interview that he was impressed watching American pop icon Elvis Presley wearing a gold chain at a live concert and wanted to create a similar rockstar image for himself. Praised by the press for his golden looks, Lahiri continued to wear his lucky charms till his demise.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Bappi contested from Shrirampur Lok Sabha constituency on a BJP ticket. At that time, according to the details he shared in the election affidavit, he owned 754 grams of gold and 4.62 kg of silver. “Gold is my God,” he used to say. What he didn’t say but world knew was that it was his music that was real gold!