Bappi. D. Lahiri was born in Calcutta, West Bengal into a family with a rich tradition in classical music. His father, Aparesh Lahiri was a famous Bengali singer and his mother, Banshori Lahiri was a musician and a singer who was well-versed in classical music and Shyama Sangeet. He was their only child. At a very early age, he had the ambition to become famous, not only nationally, but internationally. He began to play the tabla at the tender age of three. His relatives from his mother’s family include Kishore Kumar and the S. Mukherjee clan. Initially he was trained by his parents, after which he received his first opportunity in a Bengali film, Daadu (1972) at the age of 19.
He came to Mumbai at the young age of 19. The first Hindi film for which he composed music was Nanha Shikari (1973). The turning point of his career was Tahir Husain’s Hindi film, Zakhmee (1975), for which he composed music and doubled as a playback singer. He himself sung a duet with Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar called Nothing is Impossible for the same film. The songs of his next film, Chalte Chalte, became a rage. With Ravikant Nagaich’s Surakshaa his singing and music became even more popular. He also scored music for many Hindi films produced from South India.
Style of music
Bappi Lahiri pioneered the use of disco music in Indian cinema with an Indian flavour. Most of his songs would be rendered by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle. He launched Vijay Benedict and Sharon Prabhakar into the music industry. He also used Alisha Chinoy and Usha Uthup extensively for his compositions.
Allegations of Plagiarism
Throughout his career Bappi Lahiri has been accused of plagiarizing music produced by other composers without giving them any credit or royalties. Conversely, in one instance, portions of his song “Thoda Resham Lagta Hai” were included in a 2002 single Addictive by American R&B Singer Truth Hurts. Copyright holders Saregama India, Ltd. sued Interscope Records and its parent company, Universal Music Group to the tune of more than $500 million. A Los Angeles federal judge subsequently barred further sales of the CD unless and until Lahiri was listed on the song’s credits.
He disappeared from the Indian film industry in the 1990s. He made a brief comeback in the Prakash Mehra produced ‘Dalal’ starring Mithun Chakraborty. The song ‘Gutur Gutur’ from the film was a big hit, though it had its own share of controversies due to its suggestive lyrics. In 2004, he brought out his album ‘Bappi Magic – The Asli Baap Mix’, featuring popular numbers such as ‘Gori Hai Kalaiyan’ and ‘Jimmy Jimmy’. It attained great popularity. In 2005, he composed the background score for the Jahnu Barua film, ‘Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Maara’, thus reaffirming his identity as a very versatile composer. In 2006, he lent his voice to another composer for the first time with the song “Boombai Nagariya” which he sang for Vishal-Shekhar for the movie Taxi Number 9211. Of late, he has once again lent his voice to the title track of the Mani Ratnam film ‘Guru’, in which the music has been composed by A.R.Rahman. He has also recorded songs for the movie ‘Level Crossing’ produced by actor Jayaprada. In 2006, he appeared on the popular television show ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa L’il Champs’ on Zee TV as co-judge with singers Alka Yagnik and Abhijeet. He is currently a judge for the 2007 edition of Zee TV’s ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’ and Sony Entertainment Television’s K For Kishore reality show that aims to find the ‘heir apparent’ to Kishore Kumar. In a September 2007 interview, he said, “I have films like Journey from Bombay to Goa, Jhoom, Khushboo,, Mudrank, Ek Hasina Ek Dewana, Jaane Bhi Do Yaroo, Budda Mil Gaya, Boothnath, and, of course, the show with the Jacksons, in the pipeline”. With S. I. Tutul, he provided music for Sarkar Raj (2008).