Forty one years in the industry and still going strong, composer and singer Bappi Lahiri has crooned for almost every actor, right from Dev Anand to Amitabh Bachchan and even Aamir Khan. In Gunday, which is his first project with Yash Raj Films, the talented artist has sung two songs and has achieved a new feat by lending his voice to the 20-somethings Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor in the cabaret number, Asalam– e– Ishqum. Although he is happy with the accolades and compliments that are coming his way, Lahiri is not sitting back to enjoy basking in the glory. When we spoke to him, the composer had just landed back from Darjeeling, where he had performed at a concert. “The audience just couldn’t get enough of Tune maari entriyaan‘s Bangla version and the hook line of the Hindi version which goes as Tomar monta diye jao, Tara tari eshe jao. The demands were so strong, that I ended up singing it thrice,” mentioned Lahiri, adding that he enjoys performing live because audience support is what keeps him going.
Lahiri has been touring different countries and upcoming projects are keeping him well occupied. But, the success and euphoria is nothing new for the artist, whose journey started off at the age of 19 with Nanha Shikaari in 1973. Adds Lahiri, “I am one of the few artists today who has had the privilege of working with legends. One of the earliest tracks where I turned singer was with none other than Kishore Kumar and Mohammad Rafi in Zakhmee called Nothing is impossible. Although I kept working on different films as a composer, I would occasionally sing and that too only on the producer’s request. I have never forced anyone.” He confesses that although his talent comes from the blessings of his parents and the almighty, he attributes a large part of the success to his maternal uncle Kishore Kumar. “It is only through him that I learned all the right nuances of singing. Awaaz kaise keechte hain, harkate kaise leni chahiye. Mama ne bahut kuch sikhaya hain life mein,” he said.
Lahiri’s voice and compositions went on to become extremely popular during the 80s, with hits in films like Wardat, Disco Dancer, Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki among others; thus helping him earn the Disco King tag. Songs like Disco dancer, Jimmy Jimmy, Pyaar bina chain kahan re made him a household name in countries like Russia and China. “My music has traveled across the world and even today, I end up touring America almost four times a year. So much, that I end up canceling several show requests. But I want my music to leave a mark at the Grammys. Although I have been a member of the Grammy panel in the past, I am keen on sending another album as a nominee very soon,” stated Lahiri, who has already started working on his dream project along side other work.
Ask him about the current crop of musicians, singers and Lahiri immediately quips, “I love working with the young generation. Every decade has something new to offer and has its own charm. Comparing old music with new is wrong, because each era is different from the other aur jo aaj kal banta hain woh bachche pasand kar rahe hain. That’s why, I always compose music according to the current generation.” Lahiri is composing music for Chahe Koi Mujhe Junglee Kahe, under the original Bombay Talkies banner, and has roped in artists like Mika and Yo Yo Honey Singh to sing a few tracks. He feels they are doing a very good job, because their unique artistic quality helps them stand out.
With five – six Bollywood projects in hand and a few regional films as well, Lahiri is a happy man. He maintains that it is because of his spiritual connect with Maa Saraswati, Durga and Lord Siddhivinayak that he has been able to traverse this musical journey. Lahiri adds, “Who am I to sit with all the compliments on my head? It is god who gives me the strength and this talent is his priceless gift. As long as his blessings are with me, the show will and must go on.”