Tuesday 28 June 2022
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Bappi Lahiri dies at 69

While Bappi Lahiri hardly struggled to establish himself as a composer after moving to Mumbai in 1971, he made chartbusters in the 1980s for films mostly shot in Hyderabad featuring Jeetendra; he gave several hits also to Mithun Chakraborty

Music composer and singer Bappi Lahiri, who popularised disco music in India in the 80s and 90s, died at Mumbai’s CritiCare Hospital today. He was 69.

“Bappi Lahiri had been admitted to the hospital for a month and was discharged on Monday. But his health deteriorated on Tuesday and his family called for a doctor to visit their home. He was brought to the hospital. He had multiple health issues. He died due to OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) shortly before midnight,” Dr Deepak Namjoshi, director of the hospital, said.

Bappi Lahiri delivered popular songs in several films of the late 1970s-80s like Chalte Chalte, Disco Dancer and Sharaabi. His last Bollywood song titled Bhankas was for the 2020 film Baaghi 3.

The singer’s last appearance on the screen was with on reality show Bigg Boss 15, where he was promoting his grandson Swastik’s new song “Baccha party”.

In April 2021, the singer had been admitted to Mumbai’s Breach Candy Hospital after testing positive for Covid. He recovered after a few days.

Born Alokesh Lahiri on 27 November 1952 in Jalpaiguri of West Bengal to singer-musician couple Aparesh Lahiri and Bansuri Lahiri, Bappi Lahiri did not have to struggle much because he was related to Kishore Kumar who was his maternal uncle. Bappi Lahiri moved to Mumbai in 1971 as a 19-year-old and by 1974, he made Lata Mangeshkar sing to his tune for the film Daadu.

The first Hindi film for which he composed music was Nanha Shikari (1973) and his first Hindi composition was “Tu hi mera chanda” sung by Mukesh. The turning point of his career was Tahir Husain’s Hindi film, Zakhmee (1975), for which he composed music and doubled as a playback singer. He composed a duet with Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar named “Nothing is impossible”, for the same film. His compositions “Jalta hai jiya mera” (Kishore-Asha duet) and Lata Mangeshkar solos like “Abhi abhi thi dushmani” and “Aao tumhen chand pe le jaayen” from the same film became popular and gave him recognition. The duet “Phir janam lenge hum” sung by Kishore and Lata became famous from the film Phir Janam Lengey Hum. All songs from the film Chalte Chalte (1976) became hits, thus bringing him recognition as a music director at national level. He sang duet with Sulakshana Pandit named “Jana kahan hai”, which gave him recognition as a singer. Songs from the films like Aap Ki Khatir, Dil Se Mile Dil, Patita, Lahu Ke Do Rang, Hatya and Ravikant Nagaich’s Surakksha had soft music.

Bappi Lahiri composed music for some ghazals too — namely “Kisi nazar ko tera intezaar aaj bhi hai” and “Aawaz di hai” for the 1985 film Aitbaar. He also composed melodious songs sung by Kishore Kumar either as duets with Asha Bhosle or Lata Mangeshkar in the films starring Rajesh Khanna in the 1980s in hit films like Naya Kadam, Masterji, Aaj Ka MLA, Ram Avatar, Bewafai, Maqsad, Suraag, Insaaf Main Karoonga and Adhikar.

After success of the film Himmatwala, Bappi regularly composed duets sung by Kishore Kumar for films starring Jeetendra — shot in Hyderabad, where Indeevar was mostly the lyricist — like in Justice Chowdhry, Jaani Dost, Mawali, Haisiyat, Tohfa, Balidaan, Qaidi, Hoshiyaar, Sinhasan, Suhaagan, Majaal, Tamasha, Sone Pe Suhaga and Dharm Adhikari.

Bappi Lahiri made a record by composing for 12 super-hit silver jubilee movies starring Jeetendra as the lead hero in the period 1983-1985. He entered the Guinness Book of World Records for recording over 180 songs for 33 films in 1986.

Portions of Bappi Lahiri’s song “Thoda resham lagta hai” were included in the 2002 song “Addictive” by American R&B singer Truth Hurts. Ironically, copyright holders Saregama India Ltd sued Interscope Records and its parent company, Universal Music Group, for more than $ 500 million, much as Bappi Lahiri was questioned throughout the 1980s for lifting tunes from the West. A Los Angeles federal judge subsequently barred further sales of the CD unless Lahiri was listed on the song’s credits.

In late 2016, Lahiri voiced the character of Tamatoa in the Hindi-dubbed version of Disney’s 3D computer-animated fantasy adventure film Moana; he also composed and sang “Shona” (Gold), the Hindi version of “Shiny”. This was his first time dubbing for an animated character, and he also appeared in Ramratan song “Yeh hai dance bar”. He won Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award at 63rd Filmfare Awards.

Bappi Lahiri the plagiarist

While there are innumerable tunes Bappi Lahiri lifted from various sources, some websites have tried to make as long a list of his plagiarised numbers as they could. Here is a particularly long one by itwofs[dot]com:

Haske Guzare Zindagi [Film: Brahma]
One more version of Beethoven’s Fue Elise
Dur dur tum rahe [Chalte Chalte]
Inspired by the number ‘Raindrops keep falling on my head’ by Andy Williams.
One of Bappida’s better inspirations. The second version is by Rajesh Roshan in the movie Khote Sikkey (1998).
Hari om hari [Film: Pyaara Dushman]
From the song ‘One way ticket’. By Neil Sedaka
Meri jaisi haseena [Film: Armaan]
From Dr Hook’s When you are in love with a beautiful woman
Lifted. Also listen to Anu Malik’s version of the same original – Anu Malik page, 6th listing.
Tera mera mera tera [Film: Shart (1986)]
From Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon
Blatant lift. Nadeem-Shravan copied it too.
Jabse huyi hai [Film: Thaanedaar]
From the song ‘April in Portugal’
Tujse milna milkar chalna [Film: Amaanat]
From Khaled’s ‘El arbi’
While the rest of the world was going gaga over Khaled’s didi number, Bappida went gaga over the second song from the album, el arbi. So he used it in Hindi too!
Tamma Tamma [Film: Thaanedaar]
From Mory Kante’s tama tama
Ditto! Who doesn’t know this?
Koi Yahan Nache Nache [Film: Disco Dancer (1982)]
From the song ‘Video killed the radio star’….by Buggles
Sochna Kya [Film: Ghayal]
From the song Lambada
Mera dil gaayega zoobie zoobie [Film: Dance Dance]
From Modern Talking’s ‘Brother Louis’
Saawnli saloni [Hum Sab Chor Hain]
Lifted from the Pakistani pop band Vital Signs’ ‘Saawnli saloni’
Bappida at it again, as usual!
Jee le le [Tarzan]
Lifted from the Osibisa number Kelele kelele
Palkon ke tale [Sailaab]
Lifted from the song, ‘The heat is on’ from the OST of Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
The blogger found a Kenny Loggins version of the same song too, not sure if Kenny’s was the cover version.
Trivia: Guess who is credited with the story for Sailaab? Credited to the noted Tamil writer-poet Kannadasan, the story was first made in Tamil with Karthik and Ambika as Kan Simittum neram.
Jimmy Jimmy Aaja Aaja [Disco Dancer (1982)]
Lifted from the song ‘T’es OK, T’es Bath’ (1980) by the disco band named ‘Ottawan’.
Ottawan is better known for their smash hit “D.I.S.C.O” in 1979. In the 90’s, it was re-recorded by N-Trance.
Dil tha akela [Suraksha]
Lifted from ABBA’s 1974 track, ‘Hasta Manana’ from the album Waterloo.
Heavily borrowed!
Mere paas aaoge [Tarzan]
Inspired by the 1971 hit ‘Chirpy chirpy cheep cheep’ by Mac and Katie Kissoon.
Notice how Bappi has modelled the original to fit into a Hindi song idiom – the ‘mere paas aaoge’ almost does not have a direct influence, with the beginning of the original which goes, ‘where’s your mama gone’. But the similarities creep up on the ‘last night I heard my momma’ part which is ‘mujhko tumhare jaisa yaar chaahiye’ in the hindi version. Looks like Bappi has worked hard here!
Kitne Phool [Teri Baahon Mein]
Lifted off Elvis Presley’s ‘Wooden Heart’
Bappi Lahiri chose to redo this Elvis Presley track, or perhaps its German original, ‘Muss i’den’ by Friedrich Silcher, 13 years after Shankar Jaikishen lifted it for ‘Tu ru ku’ (Main Sundar Hoon, 1971)! (For Muss i’den and Tu ru ku, check out Listing no. 13 in the Shankar Jaikishen page)
Duniya mein tere siva [Aandhiyaan]
Significantly inspired by the Pakistani track, ‘Bas ek tere siva’ composed by Robin Ghosh, for the film, ‘Dooriyan’ (1984)

The original was sung by Akhlaq Ahmed and Mehnaz. Also see the same original’s other, much more popular Indian version – in the Nadeem Shravan page, listing no. 39.
Chidiyaan chun chun [Jyoti]
Lifted off a Calypso track titled, ‘Mary Ann’ by Roaring Lion, composed first in 1946.

The next listing is yet another Bappi Lahiri track inspired by the same original! And yes, this is indeed the same ‘Jyoti’ which had the Truth Hurts – ‘Thoda resham lagta hai’ hungama!
Whole day whole night [Yodha]
Like the previous listing, inspired again by ‘Mary Ann’.

‘Mary Ann’ (also referred to as Mary Anne or Marianne) is a 1946 Calypso hit, in which the main refrain goes,
‘All day, all night, Miss Mary Ann
Down by the seaside, she sifting sand
All the little love Mary Ann,
Down by the seaside sifting sand’!
Enough reason to pin Bappida at least for the Yodha number, huh? The Calypso track was originally composed by Rafael de Leon, popularly known as Roaring Lion. He’s referred to as one of the greatest Calypso composer/ singers of the 20th century.
Baahon mein leke [Loverboy]
Lifted off Barbra Streisand’s 1980 chartbuster, ‘Woman in Love’.

Bappi da‘s fairly obscure track ‘Baahon mein leke’ starts off after a couple of minute’s rain soaked pouting by Meenakshi Sheshadri by which time Rajeev Kapoor seems to have lost all hope and interest. But Meenakshi finally gets in the mood and starts singing Barbra Streisand’s 1980 chartbuster, ‘Woman in Love’ in shuddh Hindi! Pretty neat adaptation by Bappi da!
Dil mera todo na [Dance Dance]
Lifted from UB40’s 1985 hit single, ‘Don’t break my heart’

So, how do you translate ‘Dil mera todo na’ in English? ‘Don’t break my heart’? Bingo! UB40’s 1985 hit single, ‘Don’t break my heart’ acts as the inspiration for this Hindi number and its a pretty neat adaptation but for obvious giveaways like the key hook’s literal translation and tune.
Hum dono akele hon [Aaj Ke Shahenshah (1990)]
Lifted from the French track, ‘L’Amour Est Bleu’

Some time back, the blogger had added a Telugu oldie, ‘Ee reyi teeyanidi’ composed by Saluri Rajeswara Rao and its original, the French track, ‘L’Amour Est Bleu’ also popularly known as ‘Love is blue’ by Paul Mauriat! If Saluri can do it, Bappi Da can do it better and still sue the goras…and continue to flaunt about his international album that is almost ready for release in the island nation of Timbuktu…I digress. Bappi’s 1990 track from Aaj Ke Shahenshah, ‘Hum dono akele hon’ was sung by the man himself, along with Anuradha Paudwal. This track is nothing but a bloody blatant lift of ‘L’Amour Est Bleu’ in all its glory – no attempt to hide the lift.
Dekho Din Ye [Bhavna]
Lifted from The Sherman Brothers (Robert B Sherman and Richard M Sherman) track, ‘It’s a small world (after all)’

The original is a song titled, ‘It’s a small world (after all)’. This is a 1964 composition by The Sherman Brothers (Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman) and it is one of the best known Disney tunes of all time since it is played on a continuous loop at the various Disney theme parks. When you hear the track, I’m sure you’d immediately recognize it as hearing it somewhere – perhaps in a Disney toon or as a filler music in Doordarshan (that’s what came to my mind!!). The Indian filmi connection? Oh yes, there is one, courtesy, Bappi Lahiri! Bappi’s 1984 track, Dekho Din Yeh Na Dhalne Paye, from the Shabana Azmi starrer, Bhavna, uses It’s a small world, as-is! Very minimal improvisations, right up to using the catchy and repetitive part too!
Inteha ho gai [Sharaabi]
Lifted from the song, ‘The Runner’ by The Three Degrees (1979)

It’s no doubt a fascinating lift – before you jump off your seats, relax – the main tune is original; its the faster female portion (Logon ne to…) in the antara that is lifted. Mighty directly, if one may add. The original is the song ‘The Runner’ by the 60s/ 70s all-women soul band from Philadelphia, The Three Degrees. The Runner was one of their hit singles in 1979, while Sharaabi came out in 1984. Its interesting to see Bappi lifting the opening of a song and fit it so convincingly in the middle of another, completely different tune! It is so well entrenched in our Indian minds that listening to it as the opening of a song seems really odd!

Bappi Lahiri loved gold

The composer was fascinated by gold and would cover his chest with large necklaces and arms with broad bracelets of gold. “Gold is my lucky charm. When I recorded for Zakhmee, my mother gave me a gold chain with a locket that has God’s name. When I got married, Mrs Lahiri said gold was very lucky for me. As my married life passed by, my gold chains got bigger. But yes, the gold Ganpati around my neck keeps me safe,” he said in an interview in 2009, adding, “Today, if someone wears gold chains, they say why are you copying Bappi da. Only few people have such an image. Elvis Presley had a gold cross, Michael Jackson has sunglasses and Elton John has a hat.”

But not everybody was a fan of his ‘gold man image’, as he called it. Yesteryear actor Rajkumar reportedly met Bappi Lahiri at an industry event, and even passed a remark about his appearance. “Waah, shaandaar. Ek se ek gehne, bas mangalsutra ki kamee reh gayi hai (Wow, great! You have quite a collection of ornaments just falling short of a mangalsutra)!” he told him.

But Bappi Lahiri was unperturbed. “I know people make fun of me but I can’t help it, gold is lucky for me. It’s my pehchaan (identity), just like my music,” he said in 2011.


Bappi Lahiri joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on 31 January 2014 in the presence of Rajnath Singh, the then national President of Bharatiya Janata Party, to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha election. He was made a BJP candidate from Srerampur (Lok Sabha constituency) in 2014, but lost to Kalyan Banerjee of All India Trinamool Congress.

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