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It's time to disco... again

By ANUJ KUMAR



The disco king with his prince... Bappi and Bappa Lahiri.

A WALKING-talking extravaganza, a musician who is not tuned to times, a composer whose middle name has always been `inspired'. Call Bappi Lahiri by any name but you can't write off Bappi da from the history of Hindi cinema, one who made disco a household name, one who ruled the mass taste during the `action' decade of Bollywood.

Born in a family with a rich classical music background, Bappi is related to Kishore Kumar and Subodh Mukerjee clan through his mother Bansari Lahiri, a noted classical singer. "Music has been in our blood and with Bappa and Reena it has flowed into the third generation," says Bappi, happy about the gentle progress his son is making in the pop circuit with his album Super Model Mix, a collection of remixes of his own popular songs.

Vast repertoire

It is clichéd to say that public memory is short but in Bappi's case it doesn't go without saying. His "I Am A Disco Dancer" and "Rambha Ho" image almost wiped off his efforts to sound different time and again. Few remember him for "Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi" in Chalte Chalte. Who appreciates his efforts in "Kisi Nazar Ko Tera Intezar Aaj Bhi Hai" in Aitbaar or the timeless wonder "Pag Ghungroo Bandh Meera Nachi Thi" in Namak Halal? And how many even know that in 1984, when Bappi da received his only Filmfare trophy for Sharabi, he was nominated for two other films - Tohfa and Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki as well? Cynics might put it as the mediocrity of competition, but his efforts should be seen in the light of the demands of the times where he managed to produce a "Manzilen Apni Jagah" (Sharabi ), which won Kishore Kumar a Filmfare award and "Is Raat Mein Jo Nasha Hai" the same year, a year when he composed music for more than a dozen films.

"I always tried to make all kinds of music but somehow in public memory my disco songs registered the most. During the `80s, it was basically Laxmikant Pyarelalji and I, who kept the melody going. I advise Bappa too, to try different genres of music."

A friend

Bappa calls father a friend, who never interfered in what he wanted to do. "I started playing tabla at the age of four. Granny was my first teacher. By 14, I started assisting the father in the studio. My mother was quite strict about studies. I was an okay student but I always knew I would be composing music. So I quit studies after the first year of graduation and went to the U.K. to learn the electronic advancements in music." Bappa has yet to show traces of his father's legendary attitude, somebody who could wave even to non-existent fans. "I am too young but I do sport long hair like him."

Now 21, and already on to his next album besides composing background score for a couple of films, Bappa believes, "This talk of electronic music, making film music simple is okay, with emphasis on the acoustics but our masses, the rickshawallahs still love the jhankaar beats, the huge orchestra that has been part and parcel of Bollywood music for years. The lovers of modern flavour are still in minority. As a music composer you have to strike a balance. Something like the music of Dhoom." Sister Reena also showed promise albeit as a singer but Bappa reveals that she has got married and is yet to decide about her career.

Bappi seems to have to come to terms with times, when the music has moved beyond hip hop, when his trusted friends, Prakash Mehra, K.C. Bokadia and yes, Mithun Chakraborty all have lost their Midas touch. Still he retorts there is no creativity in today's songs. "Today all music companies are using my songs in remixes. Where is the originality?" Indeed who knew about his "Kaliyon Ka Chaman" from a little known film Jyoti until Harry Anand remixed it or Truth Hurts got inspired to make "Addictive". His victory against "Addictive" is now part of the industry folklore and Bappi is ready to play a new innings with Bappa as his young lieutenant.

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