Death is just a new beginning. With such thought Rhituparna Chakraborty cherishes her memories, the memories of her childhood with songs of Bappi Lahiri, in this letter she writes to him.
Dearest Bappi Da….
The year was 1989 or 1990, when my dad had bought a national Panasonic tape recorder. Among all the cassettes he got with him, one was from the movie ‘Disco Dancer.’ I was around 6 years or so, and I was mesmerized. Mesmerized with the tape recorder? No! I was mesmerized with two songs from the movie. One was ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ and the other was ‘I am a Disco Dancer.’ I learned how to rewind the cassette and played those songs repeatedly. ‘Addiction’ is the right word here. Yes, I was addicted to these songs. Eventually, I watched the movie Disco Dancer. Being a tiny kid, I barely understood anything about the story line, but I watched the movie with the slightest opportunity, such was my addiction for the songs ‘I am a disco dancer’ and ‘Jimmy Jimmy.’
As I grew up, I developed a keen interest in music, specifically songs of Bollywood. During those days, an absence of movie hall in town made us visit our neighbor to watch movies. Very few of our neighbors had VCR aka Video Cassette Recorder or VCP, Video Cassette Player. It was then that by watching Disco Dancer, I learned to read the names of the cast, crew and most importantly, the music director of that specific movie. Why? Because I wanted to watch movies where music was by Bappi Lahiri and the lead actor would be Mithun Chakraborty. If I could not find these two names when the movie began, I would yawn, look around, pester my parents to take me home.
Eventually, my craze for movies and music began to soar. I would buy music cassettes and such purchases were always preferred when I saw a combination of Kishore Kumar and Bappi Lahiri, or Kishore Kumar and RD Burman. The other choices included Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle and RD Burman. Why so? Because these music maestros had and have a different magic which cannot be expressed in words.
That’s when my ‘craze’ for music evolved to ‘love’ and you, my dearest Bappi Da, you had a huge influence in this. How? Well, I heard your song, ‘Pyaar maanga hai tumhi se’ and I was determined to learn this. How did I learn? Well, rewinding, pausing the cassette, writing the lyrics fast in my diary and then listening to the song again and again till I thought I got the tune right. I was not adept in the Hindi language then. I would check with my mother to get the lyrics right. Then I went on to learn, ‘Chalte Chalte Mere yeh geet yaad rakhna.’ There were no karaoke tracks at that point. I would sing without music and would record my own voice in a blank cassette and listen to myself to check whether I did well.
Then your songs, ‘Hari Om Hari’, ‘Tamma Tamma’, ‘Disco Station’ and many more touched my ears. I became crazy for your songs. The songs that you made were ‘My Type’ of songs. Disco beats, dance numbers, peppy and full of entertainment.
I would listen to songs sung by you and would notice you had an accent. The Bengali accent was prominent in the songs you sang. And that made the songs all the more beautiful and unforgettable. Whenever there would be discussion about music, there would be many smiling when they hear your name. You know what were those smiles about? Your personality, your accent, your panache makes you so unique that your name itself brings a smile on everyone’s face. Those gold chains you wore the accent with which you spoke Hindi, the jazzy clothes you wore, spread warmth, and made people smile. And those smiles depicted their love for you. Your merry persona, the songs you make, the beats you make, the image of yours, all of these, made people live life to the full with disco and dance. That’s what you were, and you are. Disco King and Heart Winner.
There were memes on ‘Dhanteras’ with pictures of you with your gold ornaments. Yes, some people might have found those memes funny. But certainly not in a manner of making fun of you, rather, as ‘Bappi Da’ being an epitome of joy. Yes, ‘Bappi Da’, you were adept in bringing joy in people’s lives. Your songs made people happy. Gold is expensive but Bappi da, you were and are priceless. You had gifted gold chains to contestants in music reality shows. This portrayed your crystal-clear heart.
Your songs have a unique charm. Talking about the song ‘Jahan Chaar Yaar mil jaaye’, the song would begin with ‘Desi’ beats, but as it progresses, the music would transition to guitar and peppy beats. Your songs are extraordinary. Your music made actors shine on the screen.
You had a song for every situation. Examples:
For Dance: Tamma Tamma Loge, Yaar Bina Chain kahan Re, Auva Auva Koi Yehan Aha Nache Nache, Zooby Zooby, Bhankas, Ramba Ho Ho Ho…
Sensuous: Oo la la ….Oo la la, Aaj Rapat Jaaye Toh, Raat Baaki Baat Baaki….
Motivational: Goron ki Na kaalon ki, Chalte chalte,
Love: Pyaar maanga hai tumhi se, Haan pehli baar, Muskurata huwa mera yaar, Inteha ho gayi intezaar ki,
Friendship: Jaha Chaar Yaar, Bambai se aaya mera dost..
Classical and western amalgamation: Pag Ghungroo..
Intoxication: Thodi si jo pili toh….
Well, the list is endless.
Fanatic fan, yes, that’s what I am when it comes to you. I love you so much. 69 was not the age to leave this world. It came as a shock to me and all your fans. You not only won awards but also won hearts. You still live in my heart, and I will never accept that you are not in this world. I have told myself; you are very much here, just that, you have stopped making music as of now.
I love you Bappi da. I always will. Anyone can adorn gold like you, but no one can be you. Anyone can make music, but no one can make ‘I am a Disco Dancer’. Anyone can make love songs, but no one can make ‘Pyaar maanga hai.’ Anyone can make dance numbers, but no one can make, ‘I am a street dancer.’ I can go on writing forever. Your hairstyle, your dress sense, your voice, your songs, your personality, your accent, I love all of it. Wherever you are, please remember, fans of yours will be forever fans of yours. There can never be another Bappi da. Never……….
An ardent fanatic fan of yours.
Disclaimer: The author has no intention to hurt or rebuke anyone with this letter. Being an ardent fan of Bappi Lahiri, she is penning her views about him and her love for him. This letter cannot be copied, reproduced, or published elsewhere without the permission of the author.
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Rhituparna is a content developer and soft skills trainer. An ardent fan of diaspora writers like JhumpaLahiri, she has written around 199 stories so far, some of which have been published in The Sentinel. She writes a blog https://rheetuparnachakkravorty.medium.com/