The energetic and blingy music composer Bappi Lahiri has a ken for keeping himself in the news. In his latest endeavour, he has composed and sung Shona for the Hindi version of the animated film Moana, which is being released on December 2.
The song is unlikely to top the music charts, but it will keep Lahiri afloat until he churns out yet another pop album or single, which he has been doing with unfailing regularity for the past few years. Lahiri began composing music in 1969, when he got his break in the Bengali film Dadu. Born on November 27, 1952, he was only 17 at the time.
Lahiri’s name appears in the Guinness Book of World Records for composing 180 tracks in a single year. He has worked in over 500 Hindi films apart from numerous regional productions. He is also India’s disco daddy, having popularised synthesized music in the 1980s. Lahiri’s achievements as a hit churner can keep the turntable revolving all night.
Poet and lyricist Kaifi Azmi and playback singer KJ Yesudas are not easily associated with Lahiri’s brand of music. Azmi wrote the song Tu Kahan Aa Gayi Zindagi (Bhavna, 1984) and Yesudas sang Dheere Dheere Subah Hui (Haisiyat, 1980) in raag ahir bhairav for Lahiri. Their musical collaborations got lost in the din of Lahiri’s chartbusters.
In the ’70s, Lahiri tried to balance his ditties with some very accomplished melodies, as these three tracks remind us.
Aao Tumhe Chand Pe Lahiri got his first big break in Zakhmee (1975), which was produced by Tahir Hussain. He composed the aptly titled Nothing Is Impossible with the two stalwarts, Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi. It is, however, the lyrical rhythm of Aao Tumhe Chand Pe, sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Poornima, that showcases his versatility. The lullaby has aged beautifully into a classic, hummable melody. Who has heard of the gimmicky Nothing Is Impossible?
Dur Dur Tum Rahe In 1976, the title track of Chalte Chalte, composed by Lahiri, was a resounding hit. The soundtrack had another breezy number, Dur Dur Tum Rahe. Sung by Mangeshkar in a sensuous timbre, it was filmed on Geeta (Simi Garewal) seducing Ravi Kapoor (Vishal Anand). Lahiri’s use of soft piano music turned the tune into a waltz to sway to.
Zid Na Karo Composed in raag yaman for Lahu Ke Do Rang (1979), sung by Yesudas and Lata Mangeshkar, and written by Faruq Kaiser. Composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal were ruling the roost that year with popular dance numbers such as Dafliwale (Sargam) and Teri Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (Suhaag), while Lahiri was trying to sell his voice, singing a few tracks in Surakksha. Zid Na Karo was an unexpected bouncer from Lahiri. It needs to be rediscovered because it is reminiscent of the kind of classical-based tunes RD Burman mastered and Lahiri could have followed.