Bappi Lahiri’s ‘Jimmy Jimmy, aaja aaja’, a classic disco tune from Mithun Chakravarty’s Disco Dancer, was a hit in Russia in the 1980s before the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991. Lahiri’s version of disco, which featured sparkling bell-bottoms, hundreds of twinkling light bulbs, pelvic motions backed by synths, trumpets, rhythm guitars, and syncopated basslines, was heard and grooved to by the world’s largest country, which was starved of any ‘western’ popular culture.

Lahiri, 69, who popularised disco and had a string of hit songs in India during the 1970s and 1980s, died of obstructive sleep apnea on Tuesday in Mumbai. The singer had been in the hospital for about a month and had only recently come home. Bappa Lahiri, his son, and Rema Lahiri, his daughter, survive him.

Lahiri’s musical influences include his parents, Bengali vocalists Aparesh and Bansuri Lahiri, and his maternal uncle, actor and playback singer Kishore Kumar, whom he grew up listening to in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal. Lahiri arrived to Mumbai at the age of 19 after acquiring the foundations of classical music from his parents, including some tabla tuition, and began making music in an industry influenced by the melodies of RD Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, and Kalyanji-Anandji, among others.

He may have started his career with Bengali film Daadu, but Nanha Shikari (1973), starring Deb Mukhrjee and Tanuja, was his Bollywood debut two years after he arrived in Mumbai. The film, directed by Tanuja’s husband Shomu Mukherjee, did not fare well at the box office. After several failed tries, Lahiri ultimately succeeded with three films in three years: Zakhmee (1975), Chalte Chalte (1976), and Aapki Khatir (1977). (1977).

While Lata Mangeshkar’s ‘Aao tumhe chand pe le jaayen’ (Zakhmee) was well-known, it was Asha Bhosle and Kishore Kumar’s ‘Jalta hai jiya mera’ that had the nation dancing. Then came ‘Kabhi alvida na kehna,’ the title song for Chalte Chalte, which became the farewell song for years to come, followed by the fun ‘Bambai se aaya mera dost,’ which was to become the farewell song for years to come.

Lahiri, on the other hand, had not yet reached the pinnacle of his commercial success. This happened in the 1980s. Apart from Disco Dancer (1982), there was Namak Halal (1982), Himmatwala (1983), and Sharaabi (1984). (1983). Lahiri and his unusual songs like ‘De de pyaar de’ and ‘Ke pag ghunghroo baandh’ are responsible for most of Amitabh Bachchan’s film success in the 1980s. These songs had distinct personalities that extended to the performers that played them. Then there was Lata Mangeshkar’s ‘Kaliyon ka chaman’ (Jyoti, 1981), which became more renowned as a remix in the 2000s. Ghazals, a prominent form in India throughout the 1980s, were also part of Lahiri’s repertoire. His composition ‘Kisi nazar ko’ (Aitbaar, 1985) is still regarded as one of the best film ghazals ever written. Lahiri also enjoyed singing and performed frequently for himself and other composers. Apart from ‘Ooh la la’ (The Dirty Picture) and ‘Bambai nagariya’ (Taxi no 9211), both composed by composer team Vishal-Shekhar, ‘Yaar bina chain’ (Saaheb) remains one of his most popular songs.

While the 1980s aren’t widely regarded as the best years for Hindi film music, Lahiri’s songs had a huge impact, making him a disco pioneer in India. In 2012, he became the first Indian composer to be invited to the Grammy Jury, and he briefly entered politics. In 2014, he joined the BJP and ran for Lok Sabha, but lost. However, Lahiri will be remembered as the musician who popularised disco and drove its popularity.

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