Bappi Lahiri: India’s ‘disco king’ dies at 69

Renowned singer-composer credited with popularising disco music in India passed away in Mumbai city.

Bappi Lahiri is seen sitting down, wearing sunglasses, chains and a red jacket
He had several collaborations with international stars, including English model and singer Samantha Fox in the 1995 Hindi film Rock Dancer and with Snoop Dogg on Punjabi song Patiala Peg in 2015 [File: Sujit Jaiswal/AFP]

Popular Bollywood singer and composer Bappi Lahiri, known as India’s “disco king”, has died aged 69, his family said, prompting tributes from across India.

Born in West Bengal state to a musical family, the larger-than-life Lahiri was renowned for his trademark gold chain and sunglasses and was credited with popularising disco music in India.

He had several collaborations with international stars, including English model and singer Samantha Fox in the 1995 Hindi film Rock Dancer and with Snoop Dogg on Punjabi song Patiala Peg in 2015.

Lahiri’s family said in a statement that his death was a “deeply sad moment” for us.

“We are seeking love and blessings for his soul,” his wife and two children said.

Lahiri had “multiple health issues” and he died in Mumbai, considered the Indian film industry’s capital, late on Tuesday, said Deepak Namjoshi, director of CritiCare Hospital.

He had just been discharged from a monthlong hospital stay on Monday, Namjoshi told the Press Trust of India news agency, but was readmitted on Tuesday after his condition deteriorated.

“He died due to OSA [obstructive sleep apnea] shortly before midnight,” he said.

Hit songs

He composed music for dozens of movies featuring top actors, including Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgn and Mithun Chakraborty.

Lahiri, popularly known as Bappi da, had fans dancing to his hit songs in the 1970s and 80s’ Bollywood films, such as Chalte Chalte, Disco Dancer and Sharaabi.

His music was also a success in Bengali films.

Lahiri also voiced several characters for Hindi-language versions of Hollywood films.

In the early 2000s, he won a copyright case against US rapper-producer Dr Dre for using parts of one of his songs.

Condolences poured in from top politicians and Bollywood celebrities.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that Lahiri’s music was “all-encompassing, beautifully expressing diverse emotions” and that “people across generations could relate to his works”.

“His lively nature will be missed by everyone. Saddened by his demise. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti,” Modi added.

Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman tweeted his condolences and called Lahiri the “Disco King of Hindi cinema”.

Leading Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar said Lahiri’s voice “was the reason for millions to dance, including me”.

“Thank you for all the happiness you brought through your music,” he wrote on Twitter.

Lahiri also had a brief stint in politics. He joined the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014 but lost a parliamentary election he contested for the party in Srerampur in West Bengal in national polls.

Lahiri is survived by his wife Chitrani Lahiri and a son and a daughter.

Source: AFP