Alvida, Disco King
The man beloved for the song "Chalte chalte mere yeh geet yaad rakhna/ Kabhi alvida na kehna" (As you walk remember this song of mine/ Don't ever say farewell) bade his final farewell, leaving the Indian subcontinent's music lovers shocked and saddened.
Bappi Lahiri or as his fans called him, Bappi Da, who set those lyrics by Amit Khanna to soulful music in the Hindi film "Chalte Chalte", passed away at the age of 69 on Tuesday night in Mumbai's CritiCare Hospital.
It was left to two Bengalis -- actor Mithun Chakrabarty and singer-composer Lahiri -- to introduce and popularise disco dance and songs in Bollywood in the 1970s and 80s. Any list of chart-busting and foot-tapping song and dancing track in Bollywood will be incomplete without Mithun and Bappi.
Lahiri was under treatment for a month and was discharged just last Monday. But his health deteriorated on Tuesday and he was brought back to the hospital.
"He had multiple health issues. He died due to OSA [obstructive sleep apnea] shortly before midnight," Dr Deepak Namjoshi, director of the hospital, said yesterday.
Bappi is survived by his wife Chitrani, whom he considered his muse, and daughter Reema, also a singer, and son, composer Bappa Lahiri. His funeral will be held on Thursday at Juhu's Pawan Hans crematorium on his musician-son Bappa Lahiri's arrival from Los Angeles, US, said Lahiri's son-in-law Govind Bansal.
"It's a deeply sad moment for us. Our beloved Bappi Da has left for heavenly abode last midnight… We are seeking love and blessings for his soul," the family said in a statement.
Born Alokesh Lahiri in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal in 1952 in a family of musicians, Bappi Lahiri's penchant for music came to the fore when he was just three years.
Bappi shifted base to Mumbai when he was 19 and began creating music in an industry where big names like RD Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Kalyanji-Anandji were ruling the roost.
His journey in Bollywood began with Nanha Shikari (1973) starring actors Deb Mukhrjee and Tanuja. After a few unsuccessful attempts, Bappi finally found success with three successive films -- Zakhmee (1975), Chalte Chalte (1976) and Aapki Khatir (1977).
But his career reached its peak in the 1980s with the super-hit songs of Disco Dancer (1982), Namak Halal (1982), Himmatwala (1983) and Sharaabi (1983).
But disco is far from being the be-all and end-all of Bappi's music. There were softer melodies like the songs of "Chalte Chalte" and ghazals like "Kisi Nazar Ko Tera Intezaar Aaj Bhi Hai" and "Aawaz Di Hai" from the 1985 film "Aitbaar".
Bappi's range of music extended to ghazals, a genre that rose to popularity in 80s in India. His composition "Kisi nazar ko" (Aitbaar) is considered one of the finest ghazals in film. By contrast is the fun-filled "Bambai se aaya mera dost/dost ko salaam karo".
Not just Hindi films, Bappi Lahiri was a popular name in Bengali cinema where he began his career with 1972 film "Daadu". Among the Bengali movies for which he worked as a composer is "Protidan" starring Naseeruddin Shah, Victor Banerjee and Sharmila Tagore.
Bappi's death was condoled by many in the music industry who remembered the artiste for introducing a new style of music in Bollywood.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed deep grief over the demise of Bappi. "Shri Bappi Lahiri Ji's music was all encompassing, beautifully expressing diverse emotions. People across generations could relate to his works. His lively nature will be missed by everyone. Saddened by his demise. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti," he tweeted.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, "Shocked to hear about the untimely demise of legendary singer and composer Bappi Lahiri. A boy from our North Bengal, he rose to the heights of fame and success by the strength of his talent and hard work, and made us proud with his contribution in the field of music."