A very humble human and great singer Bappi Da had a special bond with me; he is the recipient of the Newsmakers Achievers Award as Lifetime 2018, that evening veteran singer Asha Bhosle, Bappi Da lit up the moment with their beautiful songs. I had the privilege to be with both of them on various occasions. They are really tall people with a humble approach to life, in the same year I was in Russia. Indian cinema was incredibly popular in the Soviet Union. And the movie Disco Dancer was the last Indian movie screened in the USSR, which achieved a lot of popularity. It occupies 8th position among most-watched foreign movies in the USSR. Mithun Chakraborty got very popular and loved after the movie got released. And the song Jimmy Jimmy Aaja Aaja is very famous among locals.
Knowing that we are Indians, they used to ask me …from which city; in reply whenever I said Mumbai, they used to say “Oh! Bollywood city? And the very next moment they used to sing Jimmy Jimmy Aaja Aaja. I made a lot of friends there talking about Bappi Da and his songs. One day we were on a street tour, during the tour due to heavy snowfall we took a break and sat at one place. Again our topic of Bollywood continued. Looking at the great fan following for Bappi Da, I made a WhatsApp call to him. All were eagerly looking at my phone, and after two or three rings, there he replied “hello Vaidehi, kaise yaad kiya?” The crowd around me was shouting out of excitement. I told Bappi da that I am in Russia and his fans are around me, he smiled and conveyed his love to his fans. His fans requested him to sing two lines of the song “Jimmy Jimmy Aaja Aaja”, to our surprise he sang almost the entire song and people were also singing in the chorus. It was like one live concert.
I was overwhelmed; the words were falling short to thank him. He said, tum khush, to mai khush, (Your happiness is my happiness) he hung up the phone with his typical laugh. The crowd was in shock, they couldn’t believe that their hero singer gave them a virtual concert. Most of them recorded that moment on their camera and played it at least a hundred times during the tour.
He was such a sweet person, his simplicity moved me. I returned to India with a small gift for him, but he said “mere Fans se tumne mujhe joda ye kya kam gift hai ka?” (You connected me with my fans, that gift is enough for me). Such humans are rare and they are really God sent. It’s hard to believe God has taken him back.
He popularised the use of synthesised disco music in Indian cinema and sang some of his own compositions. He had delivered major box office successes in Bengali films like Amar Sangee, Asha O Bhalobasha, Aamar Tumi, Amar Prem, Mandira, Badnam, Raktelekha, Priya and so on. He was popular in the 1980s and 1990s with filmi soundtracks such as Wardat, Disco Dancer, Namak Halaal, Sharaabi, Naukar Biwi Ka, Naya Kadam, Masterji, Bewafai, Maqsad, Suraag, Insaaf Main Karoongaa, Dance Dance, Commando, Saaheb, Adhikar, Aaj Ka M.L.A. Ram Avtar.
Bappi Lahiri joined BJP in 2014. He was declared a BJP candidate from Sreerampur (Lok Sabha constituency) in West Bengal for the 2014 Indian general election and lost. Though he was known for disco-style songs where he brought orchestration and fusion of Indian music with international sounds and youthful upbeat rhythms. Although most of his songs were written for discotheques and dance numbers, yet to his credits, there are several melodious songs as well from a list of movies like Chalte Chalte and Zakhmee.
Bappi Lahiri was popular in the late 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s for the film soundtracks composed by him from films such as Naya Kadam, Aangan Ki Kali, Wardat, Disco Dancer, Namak Halaal, Masterji, Dance Dance, Himmatwala, Justice Chaudhury, Tohfa, Maqsad, Commando, Naukar Biwi Ka, Adhikar and Sharaabi.
He came to Mumbai when he was 19. He received his first opportunity in a Cinema of West Bengal, Daadu (1974) where he made Lata Mangeshkar sing his composition. 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 Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi 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 Tumhe Chand from the same film became popular and gave him recognition. The duet Phir Janam Lenge Hum sung by Kishore Lata became famous from the film Phir Janam Lenge Hum. All songs from the film Chalte Chalte (1976), became hits, thus bringing him recognition as a music director at the national level. He sang a duet with Sulakshana Pandit named Jana Kahan Hai which gave him recognition as a singer. Bappi Lahiri made a record by composing for 12 superhit silver jubilee movies starring Jetendra 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. His last rites took place this morning, a day after his death. Bappi Da, as he was known to everyone, was given a warm send-off by family, friends and fans. His final journey, from the family home in Juhu, Mumbai to the Pawan Hans crematorium, featured the two items that Bappi Lahiri was never seen without – his trademark sunglasses were intact and there was a golden chain nestled among the garlands. Bappi Lahiri died of sleep apnea on Tuesday night in a Mumbai hospital where he was being treated for a variety of ailments. He was 69.