RIP Bappi Lahiri, India’s ‘Disco King’ and Composer With a Midas Touch

Bappi Lahiri has composed tracks like 'Jimmy Jimmy' and 'DiscoDancer'.

4 min read

Bappi Lahiri, born Alokesh Lahiri, was born into music – his father Aparesh Lahiri and mother Bansuri Lahiri were both Bengali musicians. Over the years, he worked with legends in the music industry like Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar; the former a close family friend and Kishore da was Bappi’s uncle.

Bappi entered the world of music at a very young age and made his debut playing tabla at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata, when he was three. Bappi had revealed in an interview that Mangeshkar had asked his parents to send him to Pandit Samta Prasadji for training.


Bappi Lahiri is known for composing songs like ‘I Am a Disco Dancer’, ‘Naino Me Sapna’, ‘Pyaar Bina Chain Kaha Re’, and ‘Chalte Chalte’ to name a few. He even composed songs like ‘Ke Pag Ghunghroo Bandh Meera’ on the raag Darbari, picturised on Amitabh Bachchan in Namak Halal.

By the time he had turned 20, he had composed music for the film Daadu and Kishore Kumar’s nephew Shomu Mukherjee gave him a chance in Nanha Shikari.

But arguably, his big break came from Tahir Hussain. Bappi once said that Hussain dropped RD Burman to work with him instead, and that he felt like he’d ‘hit a straight sixer’ when the film Zakhmee was successful.

However, the ‘Disco King’ Bappi Lahiri wasn’t born yet- that would take a trip to Chicago with Kishore Kumar. At a club, Bappi heard a DJ play ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and he knew he had to bring those beats to India. Armed with this vision and a Moog synthesiser, Bappi was ready to take the music world by storm.

The song ‘Disco Dancer’ from the 1982 hit of the same name didn’t just solidify Mithun Chakraborty’s career but also established a new style for Bappi.

After the film’s success, India’s ‘Disco King’ was on a roll and went on to compose some of his most popular tracks like ‘De De Pyaar De’, ‘Hari Om Hari, and ‘Rambha Ho’.

When one thinks of the star composer, one is bound to think of gold- he had said on several occasions that gold was lucky for him. “Abhi ye trademark hogaya hai all over the world - Bappi means Gold. Main agar gold chupa ke rakhta hu toh kuch log puchte hai - Are you Bappi Lahiri?” Bappi told Times Now Digital.

However, he once considered giving away some of his gold adornments to Michael Jackson. Recalling an anecdote, Bappi told The Indian Express that his mother had first given him a gold necklace after Zakhmee’s success and then his wife gifted him two necklaces, one with a ‘B’ locket and one with a Ganapati.

Jackson seemingly took a liking to the latter and he was such a huge fan that he considered giving Jackson the necklace. However, gold was his ‘lucky charm’ he believed and who wants to part with luck?

As the decades rolled by and the Internet became a household staple, Bappi Lahiri faced criticism for ‘copying’ foreign tracks and he never shied away from the accusations. In an interview with Aaj Tak he claimed that copying tracks was an industry tradition; that even SD Burman and RD Burman copied music.

“If we talk about copying, it is a tradition. Salil Chowdhury also copied Mozart. SD Burman also copied, RD Burman copied a lot. What they did was, they’d be inspired by a small piece. Now what do I do in modern environment? Mithun Chakravorty was dancing like John Travolta, Michael Jackson. So I had to take that beat,” Bappi had said.

Interestingly, Bappi Lahiri had sued the musician Dr Dre for copying his track ‘Kaliyon Ka Chaman’ for Truth Hurts' song ‘Addictive’, and won the copyright case. Bappi Lahiri’s music had made its way to Hollywood too and he credits Disco Dancer’s success.

In the film You Don’t Mess With the Zohan starring Adam Sandler, Bappi Lahiri’s name appears in the credits since one of his most iconic songs ‘Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja’ was featured in the film. He even voiced a character in the Disney hit Moana- the gold-loving crab Tamatoa who sings ‘Shiny’, translated to ‘Sona’ in Hindi.

Bappi Lahiri had ruled the music industry in the 70s and 80s and remained an icon even as contenders like AR Rahman and Jatin-Lalit started carving out a niche for themselves in the 90s.


Bappi even dabbled in playback singing, starting with Vishal-Shekhar’s song ‘Mumbai Nagariya’ in the 2006 film Taxi Number 9211. In his career, he voiced actors like Dev Anand, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, and even Ranveer Singh.

Singer-composer Bappi Lahiri passed away in CritiCare Hospital in Mumbai, aged 69, ANI reported. The hospital’s director Dr Deepak Namjoshi told PTI that Bappi had been admitted for a month and was discharged on Monday but his health deteriorated on Tuesday. “He died due to OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) shortly before midnight,” Namjoshi said.

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