The gold-studded career of Bappi Lahiri

Learn what made the ‘Disco King’ such a diverse musician


February 16, 2022

/ By / New Delhi

The gold-studded career of Bappi Lahiri

The 69 year old musician passed away on the February 14th (Photo: Twitter/@behindcinemas)

Disco became a rage in Bollywood in the 1980s, and one of the sparks that lit this fire was legendary composer and singer, Bappi Lahiri, who was justifiably called Disco King. But it was not just disco that Bappi Da produced. Some of his best-known numbers include Ghazals and very soft, lilting music of numerous films that formed part of the repertoire of over 5000 songs in 500 films that Lahiri leaves behind as his legacy.

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Bappi Lahiri formed part of the Indian music industry for over 50 years. Over these years, he grew as a composer, became one of the most distinct voices of the country, and also debuted as an actor. From grandparents humming to Chalte Chalte to the youth dancing to Tune Maari Entriyaan, Bappi Lahiri had something for every generation in this country. Everything about him, from his distinct baritone to the Elvis-style jewellery, oozed distinctiveness that made him the icon that he was.

Like Abhimanyu, who learnt how to break the chakravyuh (war strategy) in his mother’s womb, music coursed in Bappi Lahiri’s veins since he was an infant. His parents, Aparesh Lahiri and Bansuri Lahiri were trained musicians who taught their son how to play the table at the tender age of 3. His maternal uncle was legendary singer-actor Kishore Kumar, so it is fair to say that music and Bappi Da were a fated combination. He began his career at the young age of 19 with the Bengali film Daadu in 1972. His Bollywood break was not far off as he composed the music for Nanha Shikar in 1973. While he was working in the industry, most people believe that the turning point of his career was Tahir Husain’s Zakhmee (1975), for which he composed the music and also doubled as a playback singer. 

A young Bappi Lahiri at a recording with Lata Mangeshkar (Photo: Instagram)

His creative tunes led to the production of musical geniuses with the voices of Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar, Usha Uthup and many more. He played a major role in making these stars who they are. In Zakhmee, he composed a duet with Mohamed Rafi and Kishore Kumar called Nothing is Impossible, which gained traction. The Lata-Kishore duet Jalta Hai Jiya Mera and solos like Abhi Abhi Thi Dushmani and Aao Tumhe Chand from the same movie became popular and gained him recognition. After this, the legend did not look back. With hits like Disco Dancer and Jimmy Jimmy, from Disco Dancer (1982) he made sure that the entire country jammed to his tunes and became the Disco King of the country. 

Known for his peppy tunes, Bappi Lahiri was a diverse musician. He composed many soft melodies including songs from movies like Phir Janam Lenge Hum (1977), Aap Ki Khatir (1977), Dil Se Mile Dil (1978), Patita (1980) andd Lahu Ke Do Rang (1979) to name a few. Even though he did not contribute majorly to the genre, Bappi Da composed a few ghazals as well, including Kisi Nazar Ko Tera Intezaar Aaj Bhi Hai and Aawaz Di Hai. Bappi Da ruled the 80s with his tunes and his voice. He entered the Guinness Book of World Records for recording over 180 songs for 33 films in 1986. Every child from 1980s can recall dancing to Taki O Taki O Taki Taki Taki Re and every dancer has at least once moved their feet to Pag Ghunghroo Bandh. These are just some of the many famous hits that Lahiri composed that shaped the childhood and youth of generations. 

Bappi Lahiri jamming with superstar Amitabh Bachchan (Photo: Instagram)

In the 2000s, the musician became famous for individual songs in Bollywood movies. He lent his voice to the sensational song Ooh La La from The Dirty Picture (2011) which stirred the industry and dance parties across the country. He added to the charm of Ranvir Singh and Arjun Kapoor by singing Tune Maari Entriyaan and Asalaam-e-Ishqum for their movie Gundaay (2014). His remake of his own song Tamma Tamma topped the charts in 2017. 

While everyone hails him as a revolutionary in Bollywood, Bappi Da had songs in five other languages. Apart from Bengali, which was his mother tongue, he composed music for Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati and Kannada movies too. His career in the Bengali music industry is also worth noting as he composed hit singles like Chirodini Tumi Je Aamar and Malabika Anamika. His Bengali songs were often sung by Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar or Usha Uthup, and have become timeless hits. By composing albums for Bengali movies such as Ogu Bodhu Shundori (1981), Guru Dakshina (1987), Amar Sangi (1986) and Amar Tumi (1989), Bappi Lahiri made a mark on his state’s music too. 

Bappi Da has received love from all over the country throughout his career. Be it his gold jewelry, dressing style or general demeanor, the legendary singer won the hearts of many generations and his demise has been mourned across the country. Condolences have been pouring in from actors, singers, composers, and even politicians. Akshay Kumar tweeted “Your voice was the reason for millions to dance, including me.” with reference to the singer’s death. One could not agree more with this statement. Bappi Da passed away, but the rich musical heritage that he has left the country with will live on.



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