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Bappi Lahiri, India’s Disco King, Passes Away at 69

The veteran composer and singer was undergoing treatment for multiple health issues for a month, reports say

Anurag Tagat Feb 16, 2022

Singer and composer Bappi Lahiri in 2012. Photo: Arthurm84, CC BY-SA 4.0

Bappi Lahiri, the mind behind India’s most inimitable disco hits from the Eighties onwards, died late on Tuesday night in Mumbai, PTI reports. He was 69 years old.

Jalpaiguri-born composer and singer Alokesh Lahiri had been undergoing treatment for “multiple health issues” over the last month, according to director of CritiCare Hospital Dr. Deepak Namjoshi. “He died due to OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) shortly before midnight,” Namjoshi told PTI.

Lahiri was best known for championing disco music in India right from the Seventies and Eighties, claiming to have worked on more than 650 films. Among his earliest hits in Bollywood came in 1976 with Chalte Chalte, whose title track was sung by Kishore Kumar. In 1982, Lahiri worked on the dance flick Disco Dancer starring a young Mithun Chakraborty. Songs such as the titular “I Am A Disco Dancer” and “Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja” catapulted Lahiri to global stardom.

His use of synthesizer and disco beats over Hindi lyrics has achieved cult status in the decades since, best heard on soundtracks ranging from Sharaabi in 1984 and Aaj Ka Arjun in 1990 to 2011 movie The Dirty Picture. Through the years right up to his death, Lahiri continued to work with young and seasoned artists in Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu film music.

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“Though I have composed classical music also, my disco songs got more popularity. I never think that my songs have become old. They are recreated even today. That’s why I feel blessed that my songs are always ‘gold’,” Lahiri told IANS in 2017.

Known for his striking fashion sense, Lahiri often wore big glass frames, sported big hair and of course, had several gold chains. He told IANS about his jewelry, “Since childhood, I wanted to build an image for myself just like Elvis Presley – dark glass, hairstyle and chain. I also wanted to do something similar.”

This is a developing story.

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