Being loud comes naturally to Bollywood’s iconic singer and composer Bappi Lahiri. Just like how he loves to pile on the gold chains, the Oh La La hitmaker prefers to lay it on thick when it comes to his achievements. In Dubai for a New Year’s break, Lahiri endearingly lists his achievements like an eager kid flashing his progress report.
“I have completed 465 films so far,” said Lahiri in a voice puffed with pride.
Such a boast wouldn’t sit pretty on an average Bollywood singer, but the staggering statistic fits well with Lahiri since his appeal has lasted for nearly four decades.
Credited with popularising the use of synthesised disco music in Bollywood songs, 60-year-old Lahiri, who gave us ’80s anthems such as Disco Dancer and Chalte Chalte, claims he’s here to stay.
Excerpts from our chat with king of bling.
Q: What brings you to Dubai?
A: Dubai relaxes me. I have travelled all over the world, but something about this place and its clean air puts me at ease. So much has happened in my life. I just completed 40 years in this industry and I feel 2013 is going to be even bigger. It’s going to be iconic. I have sung in Akshay Kumar’s Special Chabbis and Ajay Devgn’s Himmatwala to name a few. I have a few singles coming up too.
Q: Tell us about your singles?
A: I have collaborated with rapper Snoop Dogg for a single titled Rupaiyaa. Snoop raps in English while I sing in Hindi. The song talks about how we all dream about money. Snoop has done such a marvellous job. He is one of the best rappers in this world and I am happy that he’s performing tonight in Dubai. The other one is a dance single.
Q: Who’s your biggest inspiration in the world of music?
A: Elvis Presley. He was my guru. When I was growing up, I wanted to be like him and I copied his style blatantly. He will always remain my idol.
Q: Your flashy style has come under fire. Does the mockery hurt?
A: My fans are my biggest strength. Remember, I have a fan following all over the world. So when anybody makes fun it doesn’t hurt me because I know that I have stayed strong for 40 years. In the last few decades, so many musicians have come and gone, but I am still recognised not just by Indians but Asians worldwide. As long as my fans are on my side, these things don’t bother me.
Q: What’s your biggest regret?
A’ Michael Jackson and how we couldn’t collaborate together on an album. When he came to India on a visit in 1996, I met him and he said he loved my gold chains and my song Jimmy Jimmy and Disco Dancer. But it’s just my bad luck that we couldn’t work something out. I even went to Hollywood for his last rites and composed a beautiful song called “Don’t Say Goodbye” in his memory.
Q: How would you rate Priyanka Chopra’s international music debut In My City?
A: She has a lovely voice and I see a bright future ahead of her. We worked together for an awards show and I have always felt that her voice is strong.