All of us have grooved to the tunes of Bollywood classics I Am a Disco Dancer, Tamma Tamma Loge, Jimmy Jimmy, and recent Ooh La La, and Tune Maari Entriyaan at some point in our lives. All these upbeat songs have one thing in common. They are composed by the stalwart of the Bollywood music industry, the flashy and unabashed singer-composer Bappi Lahiri.
The disco king of India, Bappi Lahiri, died on 16 February 2022, at the age of 69. He was a connoisseur of disco beats with his vibrant music having the entire nation on its feet for decades.
He was born as Alokesh Aparesh Lahiri in a house resonating with music. His parents Aparesh Lahiri and Bansuri Lahiri were Bengali singers and classical musicians belonging to the Lahiri Mohan Family of Sirajganj, East Bengal.
They realized his potential in music very early on and got him trained from Pandit Samta Prasad. Bappi Lahiri began playing tabla at the age of 3.
He got his first break at the age of 20 composing music for the Bengali film Daadu in 1972. The following year he made a Bollywood debut composing the soundtrack to Nanha Shikari. His first big break was the 1975 Hindi film Zakhmee.
With an illustrious career spanning more than 50 decades and over 600 films, Bappi Lahiri had a tremendous impact on the Indian music industry. He was a versatile singer and composer who experimented with the fusion of Indian music with psychedelic rock and disco beats. He composed all kinds of music ranging from spiritual bhajans to upbeat disco numbers.
He is said to have helped launch many careers in Bollywood, one of them being the superstar Akshay Kumar.
“Today we lost another gem from the music industry… Bappi Da, your voice was the reason for millions to dance, including me. Thank you for all the happiness you brought through your music. My heartfelt condolences to the family. Om Shanti.” -Akshay Kumar
More than a Disco King
Bappi Lahiri was known for his distinct style of wearing gold and fancy jackets coupled with his signature sunglasses. His attire matched the image of the title ‘Disco King’ given to him.
However, not many people know that Bappi Lahiri believed gold to be lucky, and each ornament he wore belonged to some God- Hanuman, Rama, Krishna, Balaji, Ganpati, and many others.
He was much more than his flamboyant image. Before venturing into the disco genre, Bappi Lahiri composed some unforgettable melodies. Songs like the sensuous Jalta Hai Jiya Mera and mellow Abhi Abhi Thi Dushmani from Zakhmee are delightful compositions.
His sense of orchestration with perfect rhythm and melody showcases his musical prowess. Bappi Lahiri also worked in regional languages like Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, and Kannada. His remarkable body of works is a testament to his talent and versatility, not restricted to composing disco-inflected and synth-pop tunes.
Bappi Lahiri’s youthful, energetic and appealing music has immortalized him for generations to come.