Days after Lata Mangeshkar’s demise on February 6, and just a day after Sandhya Mukherjee’s passing, India lost yet another musical icon as veteran composer and singer Bappi Lahiri passed in a Mumbai hospital on Tuesday night. He was 69. Fondly known as Bappi da, he made India fall in love with disco. During the 1980s and 90s, he tasted huge success and earned the sobriquet of ‘Disco King’, courtesy his compositions in Disco Dancer (1982), Namak Halaal (1982), Commando (1985) and Dance Dance (1987).
Last year in April, the composer had tested positive for Covid-19. It was also reported that that the singer-composer had lost his voice. Bappi da had denied those reports on Instagram, where he wrote, “Some media outlets are spreading false news about me and my health, which breaks my heart to hear. By the grace of my fans and well-wishers, I am completely healthy.”
Bappi da made his last onscreen appearance on Bigg Boss 15 with Salman Khan, where he had come to promote the launch of his grandson Swastik’s new song, ‘Bachha Party’.
Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn took to Twitter to mourn the demise of Bappi Lahiri. “Bappi Da was so endearing in person. But, his music had an edge. He introduced a more contemporary style to Hindi film music with Chalte Chalte, Suraksha, and Disco Dancer. You will be missed,” he tweeted.
Filmmaker Hansal called him a ‘man of incredible melody and talent’. “Another legend gone. #BappiLahiri. Had the good fortune of working closely with him when I shot an ad for p&g and then when I worked with White Feather Films for @_SanjayGupta. Man of incredible melody and talent.”
Born to classical vocalists Aparesh and Bansari Lahiri in 1952, Alokesh ‘Bappi’ Lahiri was a child prodigy who accompanied his parents on the tabla during their stage performances. Old-timers in Kolkata recall several instances of a four or five-year-old Bappi playing the tabla at public performances with the skill of a far older musician.
Apart from a superhit Bollywood career, he delivered major box office successes in Bengali films too, such as Amar Sangee, Asha O Bhalobasha, Aamar Tumi, Amar Prem, Mandira, Badnam, Raktelekha, Priya and so on.
In Hindi films, he became a household name in the 1980s and 1990s with soundtracks for films such as Wardat, Disco Dancer, Namak Halaal, Sharaabi, Dance Dance, Commando, Saaheb, Gang Leader, Sailaab and countless others.
Lahiri joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on January 31, 2014 to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Serampore in West Bengal’s Hooghly district, but lost to Kalyan Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress.