Bappi Lahiri

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Additional information may please be sent as messages to the Facebook
community, All information used will be gratefully
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A brief biography

Avijit Ghosh, February 17, 2022: The Times of India

Music director Bappi Lahiri harnessed and harvested the “disco sound” to produce chartbusters in films like Disco Dancer and Namak Halaal but was equally adept in composing gentler semi-classical and folksy tunes best exemplified in the less-remembered songs of Aangan Ki Kali, Apne Paraye and Aetbaar.

The composer-singer had been under treatment for several weeks. “He was suffering from OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) and recurrent chest infection…He succumbed to his illness at about 11. 45pm,” Dr Deepak Namjoshi of Mumbai's CritiCare Asia Hospitals said in a statement. In the 1980s, a disco track became mandatory in Hindi films after the tsunami-like success of Qurbani’s ‘Aap jaisa koi’ (singer: Nazia Hasan, composer: Biddu). Songs became something that you both danced and listened to. For the young and the restless, beat acquired more prominence. And the electronic synthesizer became the busiest instrument. No Bollywood composer understood, captured and expressed the new musical ecosystem like Bappi.

His dalliance with disco started with ‘Hari Om Hari’ (Pyara Dushman, inspired by Neil Sedaka/Eruption’s One Way Ticket) and ‘Rambha ho ho ho’ (Armaan). Director B Subhash’s Disco Dancer became his high noon. From the title track to ‘Jimmy Jimmy’, every track in Disco Dancer was dancey and delicious. If ‘Awara hoon’ was Hindi cinema’s major cultural export in the 1950s, ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ remains a musical ambassador even in Vladimir Putin’s Russia today. Just go to YouTube for confirmation.

The journey

Anirudha Bhattacharjee, February 18, 2022: The Times of India

One fine morning in 1971, musician Aparesh Lahiri found that squatters had made his rented house in South Kolkata their home. It wasn’t odd for the times. Kolkata was burning in Naxalite fire and forced ‘occupation’ of the homes of rich and famous people wasn’t uncommon.

Aparesh may not have been rich, but he was prominent as a musician. He was a member of the Revolutionary Socialist Party’s cultural wing, the Kranti Shilpi Sansad or Revolutionary Artistes’ Group similar to the Communist Party’s IPTA or Jana Natya Sangh. Sandwiched between luminaries in the group was ‘Bengal’s Saigal’, a sobriquet thrust upon Aparesh. He and his wife Banshari were in charge of the group’s popular musical shows.

Accompanying them often on the tabla was a toddler. “His hands would barely reach the instrument. But he played ‘laharis’ (drum rolls) like a professional,” remembers Gautam Banerjee, son of the famous Bengali comedian Bhanu Banerjee, who was a star in the artistes’ group.

That toddler was Aparesh and Banshari’s son Alokesh, nicknamed Bapi. At first his mother, a rare woman tabla player at the time, taught him. Then maestro Samta Prasad tutored him.

Thanks to his father’s connections, Bapi made his debut in films as a 19-year-old music director for Ranjitmal Kankaria’s Bangla production, Dadu (1969). The film flopped but Kishore Kumar, a distant relative of Banshari’s, volunteered to help out, Bapi’s niece Anushila Chakraborty told this author.

By that fateful day in 1971, Bapi had turned 20. 

From Bapi to Bappi, with hiccups

With his home occupied by strangers, Aparesh gathered all that he could and bundled his family on to the next train to Mumbai. 
Once there, they headed straight to Grotto Villa, home of Sasadhar Mukerji, Kishore Kumar’s brother-in-law who had set up Filmistan Studio in the 1940s. Sasadhar, a grand-uncle to actress Rani Mukerji, was known never to refuse a talented Bengali in need of work. The Lahiris were put up in the outhouse.

Bapi got his first assignment in Mumbai, Nanha Shikari. And Bapi became Bappi almost by default.

Despite the introductions, success didn’t come easy. Nanha Shikari was delayed. Bappi sang a shloka for BR Ishara’s Charitra, in which Ishara introduced cricketer Salim Durrani and Parveen Babi to Bollywood. But that project was delayed too.

The dejected young man, who had shifted to a small flat in Kalina close to the Santa Cruz airport, started doing the rounds of studios in search of work. At Navketan Films, brothers Bhisham and Hersh Kohli, nephews of Dev Anand, were looking for a music director for their films Chalte Chalte and Aap ki Khatir.

The Kohli brothers had been unsuccessful at roping in RD Burman for their projects, though Bhisham was Burman’s close friend. So the brothers settled for Bappi on the rebound, on the suggestion of Amit Khanna, a producer and director who went on to become the founder chairman of Reliance Entertainment. But Chalte Chalte, whose title would become an anthem, was also delayed for more than two years. 
Meanwhile, Bappi did the background score in producer Tahir Husain’s Madhosh (1974). That gave him the launchpad for Zakhmee (1975), his first hit with songs such as ‘Jalta hai jiya mera’ and ‘Dil mein holi jal rahi hai’.

Into the big league

“Bappi-da had me put in a word with producer Nasir Husain,” actor Tariq Khan told this author. “Now, Nasir-saab had Pancham-da (RD Burman), who was like his younger brother. Replacing him would never cross his mind.” Tariq, who did a few stage shows with Bappi, remembers him as a well-mannered and soft-spoken man who worked very hard.

After the musical success of Zakhmee and Chalte Chalte (1976), Bappi was labelled “the poor man’s RD Burman” by the media, a tag that stuck partly because Kishore Kumar would inevitably sing for both. So when Nasir Husain found it difficult to move away from the real RD Burman, Pancham and his team volunteered to help Bappi.

Sanjay Chakravarty, son of RD’s team leader Basu Chakravarty, remembers, “Aparesh Lahiri came down to our place and requested my father to guide his son Bapi.” With Basu at the helm and Pancham’s team at the back, Bappi got some of the most talented instrumentalists till 1978. His layered, modern sound gravitated towards something widely known as Pancham’s signature. 

With the blessings of Kishore and Lata

Lata Mangeshkar, and not Asha Bhosle, was Bappi’s first singer of choice. Lata had sung the ethereal Bangla song, ‘ Phande Poria Boga Kande Re (Oh Amar Desher Mati)’, for Aparesh Lahiri when Bapi was six years old. Bappi’s niece Anushila says, “Mamu used to address Lata as ‘Ma’. She gifted him silver statues of Saraswati and Ganesh on his last birthday. He stopped taking phone calls after she passed away.”

Like Kishore, Lata helped Bappi’s early popularity with hits like ‘ Door door tum rahe’ in Chalte Chalte and ‘ Raja mere tere liye’ in Aap Ki Khatir (1977), another of Bappi’s projects that got delayed. The last song of Aap Ki Khatir was banned by Bombay Doordarshan, as they found the lyrics distasteful. Binaca Geetmala, a popular radio programme that rated songs, put it at a poor 12th on their list.

But the audience adored him. That banned song – ‘Bambai se aaya mera dost’ – became a blockbuster. And that’s when Bapi from Kolkata truly became Bappi Lahiri, the Mumbaikar. 
The writer has co-authored the books RD Burman: The Man, The Music and SD Burman: The Prince-Musician. He has also written Gaata Rahe Mera Dil: 50 Classic Hindi Film Songs.


Avijit Ghosh, February 17, 2022: The Times of India

Bappi Lahiri, some famous work
From: [ The Times of India]

Bappi Lahiri’s breathless foottappers and Indeevar’s nursery-rhyme lyrics (’Char baar marenge ek baar ginenge’, Mawaali) in Southern productions defined popular film music in the 80’s. They were integral to mind-numbing entertainers whose plots could match Donald Trump’s statements for incredulousness. Jeetendra’s Himmatwala, Mawaali, Maqsad and Tohfa were all propelled by these tunes. “He was a king in Madras,” director B Subhash told this reporter some years ago.

In the 1980s, Bappi da, as many called him fondly, provided the score for an eyepopping 230 films. In 1985, he gave music to 33 movies: 30 Hindi, 2 Bengali, 1 Tamil; which means a film released every 12 days! The composer lorded over the charts even when some of the songs were copies of foreign hits and desi classics. There was an alternative side to him as well. In Basu Chatterjee’s Apne Paraye, he surprised critics with his folksy tunes. ‘Shyam rang rangaa re’, where he employed the Bengal percussion instrument khol, has the meditative feel of a Chaitanya kirtan. ‘Gao mere mann’ carries the smell of ponds, banana leaves and 19th century Bengal. Not many would associate him with songs such as ‘Saiyan bina ghar soona’ (Aangan Ki Kali), ‘Chaar din ki zindagi hai’ (Ek Baar Kaho) or ‘Kisi nazar ko tera’ (Aetbaar). Many of them were sung by Yesudas and Bhupendra.

Born in north Bengal’s Jalpaiguri town to musician parents, Alokesh (his original name) trained under guru Samta Prasad and was hailed as a tabla prodigy at just six. Nanha Shikari (1973) was his debut Hindi film. But the composer made a distinct impression with Chalte Chalte (1976), among his finest scores.

Amit Khanna, who wrote Bappi got the film. “The film director Bhisham Kohli, also Dev Anand’s nephew, was looking for a music director. He was unable to get RD and L-P. Bappi had earlier come to Navketan looking for work. And I was impressed by some of the tunes I heard. I told Bhisham, why don’t you try him? During the music session, Bappi played the ‘Chalte Chalte’ tune. I wrote the opening lines. And this led to the song,” recalled Khanna. Slowly, he worked his way up with hummable melodies in low budget action films such as Zakhmee, Ravikant Nagaich’s Surakksha and Wardat and the Ramsay brothers’ horror yarns (Saboot). Disco Dancer elevated his career.

But when Prakash Mehra, then Bollywood’s along with Manentered the super league. The music in Namak Halaal and Sharaabi (both Big B films) were worth the weight of the gold chains he fondly wore. Namak Halaal’s ‘Pagh ghungroo baandh’ was nearly 12 minutes long but the tune was riveting. ‘Raat baaki’, which he sang with Asha, is a standout. Sharaabi earned him his lone Filmfare award in 1985.

He tasted success in the 1990s too: K C Bokadia’s Aaj Ka Arjun and David Dhawan’s Aankhen, to name just two. ‘Gori hai kalaiyan’ (Aaj Ka Arjun) topped the Binaca Geetmala in 1990. In recent years, Bappi sang in Baaghi 3 and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan. Last April, he had contracted Covid but recovered well. Now, the amiable and ever-smiling composer is no more. But the best of his 80s tracks remain groovy as ever. And even today, there’s no better farewell song than ‘Chalte Chalte’.

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