Dada of Disco Bappi Lahiri launches ‘Naughty Raja Raja’, his first Tamil song in the upcoming Karupampatti.
The King of Bling, Bappi da, the Dada of Disco was in Chennai to release the audio of Karupampatti, a film for which he has sung a Tamil song for the first time.
Bappi Lahiri was decked up in half-a-dozen gold chains, and a huge Ganesha pendant which you couldn’t help but notice, a gold watch on one wrist and a bunch of gold bracelets on the other. He also sported Louis Vuitton sunglasses.
Bappi took time off from his busy schedule to answer a few queries. Here’s what he said in his inimitable style…
We didn’t know you are a Louis Vuitton fan?
Louis Vuitton... and Rolex (shows his watch).
Wow! Everyone knows about the gold and the bling...
Yes, style. I am a very costly person (laughs). Not everybody can copy... Bappi Lahiri’s is a very costly dress.
You only wear designer clothes?
Haan, but I design (them) myself.
How much Tamil have you spoken before singing ‘Naughty Naughty Raja’?
No, no. Tamil I can’t speak. I can’t speak Marathi also. Forty years I have been in Maharashtra…. I can understand (the language) but can’t speak it. Chennai is a good place; it’s lucky for me.
When you say Chennai is lucky...
I compose all the songs here. Right from Himmatwala, Tohfa, Mawali... all produced in the South… to Geraftaar… (starring) Amitabh Bachchan, Rajini Bhai and Kamal Haasan.
The new Himmatwala is coming out.
My song is there… ‘Naino Main Sapna’, super hit. My films are coming back after 30 years and the same songs are being recorded again... super hits. Two years ago, I recorded ‘I am a Disco Dancer’ for Golmaal 3…. The picture did 100-crore business. For ‘Naughty Raja Raja’, I sing D-I-S-C-O again. Because Bappi Lahiri is Disco King... the style I introduced in the Eighties.
How did you get introduced to disco?
Disco is what I brought to India. Nobody had heard it before. I went for a concert in America and all over the world in ‘79. That time, my song ‘Bambai Se Aaya Mera Dost’ had become a super hit. So when I went to a disco in Chicago, I didn’t know what disco was. The DJ told me, ‘We are playing the record from Saturday Night Fever, which was a super hit. The hero was John Travolta. (The songs were by) Bee Gees. That time I thought I must make Disco (popular) in India. Why I am telling (you) Chennai is lucky for me... The first picture I introduced Disco in was Suraksha that had a producer from T Nagar — Raveekanth Nagaich. I had a song called ‘Mausam Hai Gaane Ka’. It was Mithun Chakravarthy’s first film to be a super hit. The song is a super hit abhi bhi.... After that ‘Disco Dancer’ came and became history.
When you say you introduced Disco, you mean...
The Disco beat... the punchy beat.
Got it. So you were among the first to get into what later became computerised music.
Computerised songs, I did it first. Remember ‘Tamma Tamma Loge’?
Yes, the controversy about ‘Jhumma Chumma De De’.
That’s because myself and Laxmikant-Pyaarelal used the same African folk tune but from the second line, it’s different. But the computerised song, I did it first. Then A. R. Rahman in Roja.
Are you against computerised music?
No, no, no. I have been working for 40 years. I change myself. ‘Ooh La La’ is history all over the world. After Special 26, my song is again coming in Jolly LLB. ‘Meri Toh L Lag Gayi’, again super hit song.
I read a recent interview of yours where you said music has deteriorated and we are coming back to the same songs.
Definitely. I am talking about Bollywood. Nowadays, no words. No originality. Why (did) Himmatwala become a super hit? Today, there are no original tunes. You have to borrow from our songs. Bappi Lahiri, R.D. Burman, Kalyanji-Anandji, ‘Dum Maro Dum’... What I have given in Mawali ‘Oi Amma Oi Amma’ became ‘Ooh La La Ooh La La’. Same style. Thirty-year (old) songs now also superhit. Why? Because my songs are not getting old. You can say Laxmikant-Pyaarelal or Khayyam sounds old but my songs always (are popular with) the young generation. Like ‘Jawaane Jaaneman Haseen Dilruba’ or ‘Yaar Bina Chain Kahaan Re’. People love these songs. My songs are always growing (in popularity). You watch… this song ‘D.I.S.C.O Naughty Raja Raja’ will become a super hit after the release of the film.
Do you take time to come up with these super hits?
No, no, no. I am fast. I never give just one song to a producer or director. I give three and say you select. I will give you (for) one situation, three songs.
Do you miss composing with all the singing assignments you get?
I am always choosy. You don’t need more than three super hits a year. I have got no time also. I have shows all over the world. (The) public are anxiously waiting. I enjoy composing, singing and then performing. When I am singing, there are 20,000 people dancing. I sing ‘Ooh La La’, public sings ‘la la’. In America, they made me sing it four times on stage.
Any albums coming up?
Yes, a very big single ‘Jhoom’ is releasing in Hollywood. It’s a dance song. And then one song with Snoop Dogg. Over the last three years, my albums are going to the Grammy.
Grammy... your next goal?
Grammy for individual album is very difficult to get. But yes, Grammy and international market. I brought British pop dancer Samantha Fox in Rock Dancer, then worked with MC Hammer in Will to Live in Hollywood, Apache Indian, Boy George and now I just completed a song with Snoop.
You’ve worked with the best.
Yes. 470 films completed in 40 years. Long innings and so many films are coming.