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India’s first ‘disco-king’ Bappi Lahiri passes away at 69

BY QUAID NAJMI

Mumbai, Feb 16 (IANS) Veteran singer-composer Alokesh alias Bappi Lahiri – nephew of the legendary trio of late Ashok Kumar, Kishore Kumar and Anoop Kumar – passed away around midnight due to multiple health issues, his family said here on Wednesday.

Wielding the baton from the age of 19, Lahiri, 69, and breathed his last at the Criticare Hospital, Juhu, said the hospital Director Dr Deepak Namjoshi.

“He had been admitted to the hospital for a month and was discharged on Monday. But his health deteriorated on Tuesday and his family called for a doctor to visit their home, after which he was brought to the hospital,” said Dr Joshi.

He suffered from several health complications and died due to OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) last night, the medico added.

Lahiri – who attained fame as India’s first ‘Disco King’ – is survived by his wife, Chitrani, daughter Rema and a son Bappa, who has taken to his dad’s musical career.

In a statement later, the Lahiri family said: “It’s a deeply sad moment for us. We are seeking love and blessings for his soul.”

The Lahiris said that the music maestro’s cremation will take place after the arrival of his son Bappa from Los Angeles around Thursday midnight.

Born in West Bengal, Lahiri’s first composition was for a Bengali film, ‘Daadu’ (1972), followed by a Bollywood film ‘Nanha Shikari’ (1973).

He arrived’ on the musical scene in a crescendo with ‘Zakhmee’ (1975) for which he composed music and also sang, pushing him to upper echelons at a very young age of barely 22.

During his career, he directed top legends like Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, his ‘Mama’ Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosale, Usha Uthup and many more to create waves with soulful, racy, vibrant and rhythmic music.

Lahiri created musical tsunamis with his compositions in ‘Chalte, Chalte’ (1976), ‘Suraksha’ with the pacy ‘Gunmaster G9’ becoming as popular as 007, and “Lahu Ke Do Rang” (both 1979).

Then followed ‘Manokaamna’ (1980) with several lilting numbers, ‘Wardat’ (1981), the raging music of “Disco Dancer” that had the nation dancing to his tunes with ‘Jimmy Jimmy, Aaja Aaja’, and ‘Namak Halal’ (both, 1982), the foot-tapping ‘Himmatwala’ (1983), ‘Sharaabi’ (1984) with the unforgettable ‘Log Kehte Hain, Main Sharaabi Hoon’, “Adventures of Tarzan” (1985) in which Kimi Katkar cavorted onscreen crooning ‘Tarzan, O My Tarzan’, ‘Dance Dance’ (1987).

Other films for which he composed memorable songs include ‘Commando’ (1988), ‘Prem Pratigya’ and ‘Guru’ (both, 1989).

In 1990, he took the industry by storm with superhit music for ‘Naakabandi’ like the ever-green ‘Naakabandi-Naakabandi’ sung by Usha Uthup and Bappi himself, ‘Ghayal’, ‘Aaj Ka Arjun’, ‘Thanedaar’, ‘Sailaab’.

Later came films like ‘Dushman Devta’, ‘Sau Crore’, ‘First Love Letter’ (all, 1991), ‘Shola Aur Shabnam’, ‘Zindagi Ek Jua’, ‘Police Aur Mujrim’, ‘Geet’, ‘Tauheen’ (all, 1992), ‘Dalaal’, ‘Aankhen’, ‘Amaanat’ (1994), ‘Rock Dancer’ (1995), ‘Hum Sab Chor Hai’ (1996), ‘Benaam’ (1999), ‘Justice Chowdhary’ (2000), joint compositions for ‘Chandni Chowk To China’ (2008), ‘Baaghi 3’ (2020).

Lahiri also composed extensively for regional films in Bengali, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, Tamil. Besides, he also composed English songs, and flirted with politics briefly with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Top personalities like President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar, top leaders of Maha Vikas Aghadi government, BJP’s Leaders of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis and Pravin Darekar, and others condoled the passing of Lahiri.

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