Bappi Lahiri was definitely the king of disco. No Indian song made the 1980s dance like Vijay Benedict’s” I’m a disco dancer” did. He is perhaps best known as the man who composed hit albums like Di Dancer, but it would be wrong – and unfair – to reduce his legacy to kicking music, even if he were a master at it. He was also completely at home in melody, the soul of popular Indian music.
With his death India lost one of the last composers of that era of Hindi film music where melodious tunes mattered – tunes that would be hummed by the music fan long after the film was forgotten.
When we think of Bappi’s most beautiful melodies, the first song that would probably come to mind is ” Chalte chalte mother you geet yaad rakhna” (remember my song, leaving; never say goodbye) from the 1976 movie C halt Chalté. Brilliantly sung by Kishore Kumar, the song remains just as popular. It is perhaps the most popular farewell song in India, thanks also to the lyrics of Amit Khanna.
Kishore Kumar, who was also related to Bappi Lahiri, went on to sing some of his finest compositions, including the ” Manzilein apni jagah”, “ Inteha ho gayi” ( Sharabi); ” Aaj Rapat Jaye” and ” Thodi si jo peeli hai” ( Namak Halal) and ” Hanh pehli bar”… ( Aur Kaun).
Another favorite voice of Indian cinema, Yesudas, has also been put to good use by Bappi. ” Shyam rang ranga re” may not be one of the gifted singer’s most anthologized Hindi songs, but it’s a beautiful tune from the 1980 A-movie pne Paraye. “Z id na karo” (L ahu Ke Do Rang)“M ana ho tum” (T oote Khilone)” VS haar din ki zindagi” (E k Baar Dekho) and D heere dheere subah huyi” (H aisiyat) are among the other beautiful songs Yesudas has rendered for Bappi, who, like Ravindra Jain and Raj Kamal, has harnessed the classical depth of the well-trained singer. Bappi also gave a great song to Bhupinder Singh, a very underutilized singer with “K isi nazar ko tera” (Aitbaar).
With songs like this, Bappi proved that his songs weren’t just meant to be danced to. They should be cherished, too.