10 Bountiful Bappi Beauties!

Bappi Lahiri has given us a range of melodies. Photo: Publicity Photo

It’s a year since Bappi Lahiri left us on February 15, 2022. The composer-singer, who has also been actor, lyricist and film producer in his time, was perhaps branded in many unpalatable ways—as the master plagiarist, the disco czar, the Padmalaya music brand purveyor and the gimmicky gizmo geek.

But Alokesh (his real name), the son of classical musicians Aparesh and Bansuri Lahiri, a prolific tunesmith who composed music for over 450 Hindi, Bengali and other language films and also albums. And the list spans films featuring Amitabh Bachchan to small movies, including B-grade horror stories like Aur Kaun? and Veerana.

A whimsical creator, he has delivered many immortal classics and songs that have become anthems, apart from becoming re-creation fodder. And along with his songs for our sole, he delivered so much for the soul as well!

A year after he passed away at the not-so-old age of 69, it is time to recollect 10 stunning and diverse beauties that remain my favorites. Not all were popular, but together they form a bountiful bouquet of Bappi beauties!

Baahon mein botal / Prem Pratiggya (1989) / Indeevar / Kishore Kumar & Asha Bhosle

A spirited zesty song set in a cheap bar, with the drunk hero and a bar girl dancing to the swaying rhythm, this composition was suffused with desi swag. And how! Mithun Chakarborty gyrated in abandon to the folksy number.

Bheega bheega mausam / Suraag (1982) / Kaifi Azmi / Lata Mangeshkar

This is perhaps one of Lata Mangeshkar’s most soulful numbers for the composer in the first decade of his Hindi film career that began in 1973 (preceded by a couple of Bengali films). Kaifi Azmi’s pathos-laden words added to the lovelorn aura.

Kahaan jaate ho ruk jaao / Dulha Bikta Hai (1982) / Gauhar Kanpuri / Anwar & Meena Patki

When Mohammed Rafi exited in 1980, the first clone to get several songs was Anwar, who sang this male version solo and the second with a few lines by Meena Patki. This is perhaps among the most tuneful of the Rafi-like songs created for Anwar, and showcases Bappi’s command over raag-based vintage Hindi film melody.

Mere Ramji bhagwanji / Dalaal(1993)  / Maya Govind  / Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik & Chorus

During Navratri, other film songs carry the day, but few match the aura, emotional voltage and beats of this cracker of a song with wonderful words and a certain atmosphere. But it was lost in the maze of hysteria created by the then-ubiquitous hit, Gutar gutam, as that double-entendre song from the same film became a craze.

Nanha sa panchhi re tu / Toote Khilone (1978) / Kaifi Azmi / Kishore Kumar

A pensive number with some really thoughtful lines, it was again cold-shouldered in the Maana ho tum behad haseen mania. Kishore was phenomenal here.

Phool ka shabab kya / Farz Ki Jung (1989) / Naqsh Lyallpuri / Mohammed Rafi

Incredibly, this song had Rafi singing for Govinda, who appeared in movies six years after the singer passed away. This is perhaps the best example of the soft corner Bappi had for Rafi (who had recorded his first-ever song for a film that never took off). It had a rich, olde-worlde Kalyanji-Anandji-meet-Madan Mohan flavor and was employed here after the producer’s original 1980 film, Hari Bhari, was shelved. Had that film been completed, Rafi would have sung his only song for actor Raj Kiran!

Saare jahaan ki amaanat / Armaan (1981) / Indeevar / Kishore Kumar

This is one of Indeevar’s career-finest lyrics, and on the futility of the contemplation of suicide. It was filmed on Shammi Kapoor, no less, who played the bartender in this rehash of Casablanca. It was movingly sung by Kishore Kumar, Bappi’s maternal uncle and most frequent male singer.

Branded for several wrong reasons, Bappi Lahiri was a genius. Photo: Publicity Photo

Saathi re gham nahin karna / Ikraar (1979) / Kulwant Jani / Mohammed Rafi & Savita Suman

Mohammed Rafi heard in a soulful, philosophical and basically inspirational Bappi creation. The dejected heroine (Rameshwari) joins the hero (Rakesh Roshan) at the end of the song as he comforts her with life’s homilies.

Shama jale ya na jale / Paapi (1977) / Naqsh Lyallpuri / Lata Mangeshkar

Arguably among the finest Bappi Lahiri compositions ever, this was a classic blend of deep Indian melody and Western rhythm. For me, it leads the lingering Lata gems composed by him, and was filmed on Zeenat Aman.

Tum aur main aur yeh bekhudi / Aitbaar (1985) / Farukh Kaiser / Asha Bhosle

Not all seduction numbers have an atmosphere beyond the erotic, but in this sparsely-orchestrated Asha Bhosle , Kaidfstunner, we saw a medley of emotions coming in for the viewer, thanks to the use of evocative instrumentation. Disgust towards the anti-hero, deep sympathy for the heroine and the thrilling angle of the cold police officer—this song was like a mini-cauldron of emotions that had to be visually experienced to feel its entire in-film impact.





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