Bappi Lahiri, who is currently in Los Angeles, with 2 hit songs in Oscar-Nominated films, speaks to Subhash K Jha
Bappi Lahiri’s staying-power in the music charts is one for film historians to mull over. Across the years this indefatigable music maker has re-invented his music, or has watched other newer composers re-invent/remix his songs with foot-tapping glee.
And now Bappida is blissfully lodged in the US with two of his songs being featured prominently in two of the most talked-about films in recent times.
Speaking proudly from LA, Bappida says, “I am here because two of my songs ‘Shona’ in the Disney film Moana and ‘Come Closer’ in the film Lion were contained in films nominated for Golden Globes. And now these two films are up for Oscars. My songs in these films are being noticed and talked about here in the US.”
Bappida, who now divides his time between Bollywood and the US, says he is blessed to have straddled not just two continents but also several eras of Hindi film music. “My association with the international charts started long back, in 2002 when an American band named Truth Hurts used a riff from my song ‘Kaliyon ka chaman’ (film Jyoti) sung by ‘Mata Saraswati’ Lata Mageshkarji. In recent times my song ‘Jimmy jimmy’ from Disco Dancer was used in the Adam Sandler movie You Don’t Mess With The Zohan and now another of my songs ‘Come Closer’ from Mithun Chakraborty’s film Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki has been used in the Nicole Kidman film Lion. I feel honoured.”
Significantly Bappi points out that the makers of Lion called him up and took his permission to use his song ‘Come Closer’. Way back in 2002, Love Hurts had not bothered to get Bappida’s consent before using the track ‘Kaliyon La Chaman’.
And that hurt.
Chuckles Bappi, “There was a time when I was constantly attacked by the Indian press for plagiarism. Today I am seen as an original and one of my kind. That for me is my greatest triumph.”
Bappi says he is happy that so many of his songs are being rre-mixed. But its original tracks that he enjoys doing the most. “I loved re-doing my own ‘Come Closer’ in Lion. But I enjoyed composing the original track ‘Shona’ on Moana more, maybe because it was all about loving everything golden and I am known for my love of gold ornaments. Again in the forthcoming Karan Johar film Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya with Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt they’ve re-mixed my old hit ‘Tamma tamma’ from the film Thanedaar. The best part of these re-mixes is that I sing my own song. I sang ‘Tamma tamma’ for Sanjay Dutt 28 years ago. Now I’ve sung ‘Tamma Tamma’ for Varun Dhawan with Badshah doing a rap portion in the song. I can’t get luckier than this. It’s my parents’ prayers, the blessings of Mata Saraswati Lataji and good friends like you that has brought me so far.”
Before signing off Bappida says he wants to go on exploring new musical avenues. “I want to make India proud with my music. I want my sound of music to be heard and hummed in the remotest corners of the world. I want the world to acknowledge Indian music as the best sound on the planet.”