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Popular film composer Bappi Lahiri dies

Bollywood pays tribute to Bappi Lahiri, who composed for films like Namak Halaal, Disco Dancer and Sharaabi, and sparked a disco craze

Bappi Lahiri attends the 9th Newsmakers Achievers Award in Mumbai. Photo via PTI

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Popular Bollywood singer and composer Bappi Lahiri, who won millions of fans with his foot-tapping disco music in the 1980s and '90s, has died in a Mumbai hospital. He was 69.

Also read: The songs will remain but so will the emptiness

Lahiri was suffering from obstructive sleep apnea and a recurrent chest infection, the statement by Criticare hospital said. He had been admitted to the hospital for a month and was discharged on Monday. He died on Tuesday night.

Superstars Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan and composer AR Rahman, among others, mourned the death of Lahiri, who popularised disco music in Indian cinema. Kumar took to Twitter and wrote that the composer's music was the reason for many to smile and dance.

Balan, who featured in his popular song "Ooh La La" from the 2011 film The Dirty Picture, wrote that Lahiri brought joy to the world with his music.

"I wish you joy wherever you go Bappi da because that's what you brought to the world through your music and your being. Love always, Bidda (as you’d so endearingly call me)," she said.

Rahman, who had collaborated with Lahiri on the track "Ek Lo Ek Muft" for Mani Ratnam's Guru, shared the news of his demise on Twitter and wrote, "#RIPbappida …..Bappi Lahiri, the Disco King of Hindi cinema!"

Actor Ajay Devgn called 'Bappi da', as Lahiri was fondly known among fans and contemporaries, an "endearing" personality whose music had an edge.

Singer-composer Vishal Dadlani, who collaborated with Lahiri on songs like "Ooh La La" from The Dirty Picture (2011) and "Bambai Nagaria" for Taxi No 9211 (2006), told PTI the veteran was "was more than a legend".

"He was a friend. He was always kind to Shekhar and me and we shared a mutual respect and admiration. I can't believe he isn't with us any more. First my father, then Lataji, then BappiDa. 2022 is really hitting hard," he said.

Lahiri, a familiar figure for many with his trademark gold chains that he wore for luck and his sunglasses, was known for his songs in several films of the late 70s-80s. These included Chalte Chalte, Disco Dancer, and Sharaabi.

His last Bollywood song titled 'Bhankas' was for the 2020 film Baaghi 3.

The musician last worked on "Ganpati Bappa Morya" in September 2021. He gave the music to the devotional song, voiced by the US-based Indian singer Anuradha Juju Palakurthi.

In Lahiri, Palakurthi said she had lost a mentor.

"Working with Bappi da was like seeing a magician at work- he could bring out tunes in a jiffy-both intricate and easy, classical and light, western and eastern," the singer, who last collaborated with Lahiri, said.

Though Lahiri was associated and got nationwide acclaim for the disco sound he brought to the Hindi music landscape, he was also known for composing some of the most melodious songs of his era, including "Chalte Chalte Mere Ye Geet Yaad Rakhna" and "Pag Ghunghroo Bandh Meera" from Namak Halaal.

Director Hansal Mehta called Lahiri a man of "incredible melody" and said despite a humongous body of work, having completed more than 50 years in the industry, his melodious side was "under-utilised".

Born Alokesh Lahiri, the music composer is credited as a pioneer of synthesised disco music in Indian cinema during 1970s to 1990s with songs like "I Am A Disco Dancer", "Jimmy Jimmy", "Intehaan ho gayi", "Tamma Tamma Loge",

"Yaar bina chain kahan re", and "Aaj rapat jaaye to", among others. In the 2000s, Lahiri was also one of the singers who sang "Tune Maari Entriyaan" from 2014's Gunday. The lyrics for the Bengali version of the song were penned by Lahiri and Gautam Susmit.

The singer is survived by his wife Chitrani, two children—daughter Reema, who is also a singer, and music composer, son Bappa Lahiri. The last rites will be held on Thursday upon Bappa Lahiri's return from Los Angeles.

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