How it happened
My father Apresh Lahiri and mother Bansari Lahiri were great composers of their time. When, at the age of 11, I composed my first song, I also decided that I would become a music director only. So, when I turned 19 in 1971, I came to Bombay.
Mercifully Shashodhar Mukherjee, a very big producer of those times knew my father. So on his insistence, his son Shomu Mukherjee decided to give me his film called ‘Nanha Shikari’. But it didn’t come all that easy. He made me sing/compose some 25 song in different varieties and finally said, ‘I can’t let your talent go waste’. So, I became the music director with ‘Nanha Shikari’. The film failed but my song ‘Tu mera chand, tu hi tara’ did very well.
How it felt
In ‘Nanha Shikari’, I sang a song with Mohammad Rafi sahib and Kishore da (Kumar). Standing in the middle of two legendary singers was such an honour. Moreover, Mukesh ji also sang a song for me in this film. Watching them sing my compositions used to bring tears in my eyes. After this film, I said to myself, come what may, I will never leave music at any cost.
How life changed
Soon, I got ‘Zakhmee’ and ‘Chalte Chalte’. But I would still call ‘Zakhmee’ my first major break for its song ‘Jalta hai jiya mera bheego bheego raton mein’ and title song of ‘Chalte Chalte’ became super duper hit. I still remember how we, all in the family, used to sit in front of the radio to listen to Ameen Sayani’s programme of top 10 songs ‘Binaka Geetmala’ in which I was constantly ranked number one for many weeks.
But after giving such instant hits, I turned almost speechless. I didn’t know how to match up to the rising expectations. I had an open competition with the stalwarts of that age O.P Nayyar, S. D Burman, R. D Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Shankar-Jaikishan etc. But they all blessed me and I produced music for ‘Dico dancer’, ‘Namak Halal’, ‘Sharaabi’ with great confidence.
I owe 40 per cent of my success to films from the south like ‘Himmatwala’, ‘Toofan’, ‘Mawaali’, ‘Maqsad’, Tamil and Telegu films such as ‘Big Boss’, ‘Apurva Shar’, ‘Gangleader’ etc. I salute the south for contributing immensely to my success. Today after 37 years in the music industry, I am still clicking. What more can I ask for?