Picture by Aranya Sen
t2 firmly believes that Bappi Lahiri is inimitable. So, to keep the flavour of the chat authentic, we have stuck to this unique brand of Bappispeak. Readers can imitate or imbibe at their own risk.
You are the first Indian to be a part of the Grammy (2012) jury... How does it feel?
Im not proud. It is a proud of India because I am a part of Indians. First-time Grammy member of the jury they have accepted me because last year I have done one album called World Peace Love & Harmony with Gerald Albright. Big saxophone player from USA. Big, big man because he has got five times Grammy nominated! Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, he has played mohan veena and I played tabla, first time in my album. I composed the songs. This is for the global peace awareness and it was Top 50 in Grammy nomination this year.
How did you get empanelled as a jury member?
I was there in Tajikistan six months back and even taxi driver is telling, You are from Jimmy Jimmy country? Means I am so proud that my one song is so big hit! Planet Records who have released my album World Peace Love & Harmony sent my biodata. Then I have lot of connections. I have been to the Grammy function. Every three months one function was there in Los Angeles. I have got released in USA, almost 16 songs. Minimum three albums you have to release in the US then you can be jury. Thats why they have sent me email, Congratulations Mr Lahiri, you are jury member of Grammy in 2012. Now I am first Indian member and jury in the Grammy committee.
How are you gearing up for it?
Now toh I have to listen because they have something called 365 (Grammy365)… Ek hai udhar who will send all the tracks. Twenty thousand songs will come! I am judging the world music section.
You are also going to LA to collaborate on a new album…
Yes. This April I have to go to record one beautiful album for 2012. Jazz classical fusion with very top jazz musician Jeff Lorber, who has also got Grammy nomination this year, and Diana Williamson. She is writing the lyrics of my songs of the album. One is called Step Into The Light. Her song last year, number one dance track of USA. See, I am Grammy member and jury, that is a different story but my album also Im sending for 2012 Grammy because this time I missed the Top Five. I will try again for Top Five.
Take us through some of your most memorable meetings with international musicians...
I had done a record with MC Hammer, big rap star, and ZZ Top, very big rock singer. But latest I have met Rihanna. I want to do something with Rihanna, bas negotiates are going on.
Dekhiye Michael Jackson first time India mein aaya in 1996, I meet him, private party, he told me, I heard your song Jimmy Jimmy and I am a disco dancer. Mera bahut bara bhagya hua jo Michael Jackson humko pasand kiya.
|Picture by Aranya Sen
Then in London I was in Harley Street, very medical with big doctors because my mother was not well. Achanak same place I was sitting, Paul McCartney who was there for his wife Linda, humko mila. She (he) was so good, so beautiful nature! I told him, I am Mr Bappi Lahiri, Indian composer and he said, Yes, India is composing very good! George Harrison already recorded with Ravi Shankarji. I told him my father has very good relation with Ravi Shankarji. Yeh sunke Paul McCartney khud bola, Any time you come to London I will do work with you. Now I am looking for the Rihanna. Her hip hop style is very good.
Has the Jackson family seen your tribute music video for Michael Jackson?
Ill be singing Dont Say Goodbye in a big function in LA for the memory of Michael Jackson in May or June. You know Jackson Five, they associated with me when Michael Jackson was alive. Unfortunately jab recording ka baat chal rahi thi Michael Jackson ka death ho gaya. Amar bad luck hoye gelo! Now with Jackson family Im having talks about an album. With Randy and Jackie Jackson, who are very close to me now because of common friend of Jackson family and me, Bikram Chowdhury, yoga teacher. I want to revive Jackson Five!
You sued the makers of Toonpur ka Superhero for the cartoon character Guppy Beheri that was modelled on you. Why?
Dekhiye, India is the number one country of the world! India mein respect is important. I did court case on Toonpur because I was hurt very much. Main nahin chahta aisa phir ho… senior log ko leke mazaak. Those who made this picture, the hero and heroine (Ajay Devgn and Kajol), unka janam nahin hua jabse main kaam kar raha hoon! My career and Amitabh Bachchan career, neck to neck. He just completed 40 years. Im completing 40 years in 2012. Bade log ko leke mazaak nahin karna chahiye, without permission. I could have given permission because my image is hit, dark glass is hit, gold chains are hit and I am doing now very big TV serial for the first time. Ishaan, for Disney channel. There my portrait is of gold man, disco king! I eat with gold spoon from gold cup. My house is a gold mahal. Children come to me and I ask, You want disco? Then I sing to them [starts singing] Tim tim yeh taare disco, pappa ka pyara disco, mummy ka dulara disco, disco!
What do you have to say to those who complain that your songs are copied?
See, I am the father of the disco. I can say this straight because before me nobody! My song Mausam hai gaane ka from Suraksha was the first disco song in India. But if you are asking about copy, everybody has done! SD Burman, Shankar Jaikishan, RD Burman, Laxmikant… but they also have originality. I have done three or four inspired songs. Like Sochna kya from Ghayal. It was Lambada. Now Lambada dance if you want to do, I cant compose classical, kirtan or bhajan. I have not done any copy from Michael Jackson song. Only one I have taken the beat and that is Beat It! [Sings] Jeena bhi kya hai jeena. Why? Mithun was a fan of Michael Jackson! For Hari Om Hari I was inspired by Boney Ms One Way Ticket. Why? Because character of Kalpana Iyer is like the Boney M girls! But todays music? Ha! If you go to Internet, all the songs [pauses]… Xerox copy! My songs, two of them this year have become the biggest superhit.
[Starts singing and clicking his fingers] Gori kabse hui jawan banna le ja apne saath… Zandu badnaam hui naseeban tere liye, Munni badnaam hui! [Laughs out loud.] Same song, wording change! Now the other, [starts singing] Logon ne jo kiye honge, bade bade nazraaney… Sheila Sheila ki jawaani… You see, the daradada- daradada rhyming and notation?
Did you point it out to the Munni and Sheila composers?
These things I dont mind. Inspiration ho sakta hai. You can be inspired by Bappi Lahiri. Vishal-Shekhar is like my brother. They can take because I am the seniormost. Im not angry or anything because after me chapter is finished! Abhi, Im so happy that my songs ghumake phirse release kiya, superhit ho gaya!
Who is your biggest competition?
Now I feel my competitor is John Williams. Hollywoods big composer. I have to do that same type of symphony with big Hollywood film. That is my dream. Grammy ka toh ho gaya. Ek ya do saal ka baad Grammy mil hi jayega but my sapna is I have to compose Hollywood film like John Williams, jo remember rahe. Not like Slumdog Billionaire (!). This type of songs I have done so much. I want to do something great, my God, wah! What a compose Bappida!
Like Titanic, Dr. Zhivago and Love Story theme song. Like [sings] Kabhi alvida na kehna the amar song and in Bengal Chirodini tumi je amaar which remain history jab tak dharti rahega... we alive on Earth.
What do you do when you get stuck while composing?
Abhi stuck nahin hota hai. Instant compose kar sakta hoon main. I can do instant. Like your name is Mohua… [starts humming a tune and then breaks out into song] Mohua ko jawab nahin, tera hi jawab nahin, aapse milne se achha laga.... See, instant I can compose, instant!
You wear so much gold jewellery. What if the income tax guys come after you?
A very good question! I have got gold secure all the time, so income-tax people will not be able to take out the gold from my neck! Gold is my pehchaan. I am a gold man and you are all my golden fan.
Do you have a bodyguard?
Yes, four. To save gold! [Laughs out loud.] I keep my bodyguard all the time. In Calcutta also, I have three bodyguards. Last night I did show and whole crowd is shouting Hip Hip Hurray Bappida jug jug jiyo! This is my samman but for safety I am keeping bodyguard.
Is it true that you also practise astrology?
Ha, aapko maloom hua kaise! I am not an astrologer but I can feel it. Some hotel room or somebodys house, if I touch the feet I can feel the vibration. If I see your hand I can give the medicine. If you have blockages or your dream is not fulfilled I can tell you to do one or two things and your jog will become all right. I dont want to say the stars names but so many stars came to my house. I tell them after this month you will get success and whatever I say, everybody is happy.
Why did you change your name from Alokesh to Bappi?
Because I was Master Bappi. Very famous in Calcutta. Four years bachcha jo tabla bajata. Tab hi Master Bappi become very big hit. Thats why my father mother dont want to change my name because from childhood only I am hit!
Are you a romantic?
Definitely! I am married for 34 years. Mrs Chitrani Lahiri. She is my best friend. When she came to my life I did the song Pyar manga hai tumhi se. She came to recording and fall in love. I am 58 years old but always you have to feel romantic, nice and chatting. If you dont have romance in your heart you cant compose new thing.
Last time you told us youd like to take Julia Roberts out on a date. Anyone you wish would invite you for a dinner date?
Madhuri Dixit! She is my young heroine. Madhuri has got gorgeous. If she date I will come. And Hollywood mein only Julien (!) Roberts. I am big fan of Julien (!) Roberts.
Bappa (son) told us that you dont want him to act...
He has got offer but I want him to play some rockstar image because he has got very good height and very good looks. So definitely he is coming as a rockstar in some film or video album. Aaj Farhan Akhtar agar Rock On!! kar sakta hai [laughs] phir toh Bappa has great looks. He should come as singer, composer and actor!
Are you interested in politics?
No. I am not in the politics.
What are your thoughts about Mamata Banerjee?
Shes very fantastic. She loves my one song. Mongol deep jele, her favourite. Fifteen years before when I meet Mamtadi for first time, she told me Bappida ek gana gaiye, woh wala. I dont know the politics but she is [clenching his fist] one-man show. Ek aisa aa gaya, Bengal ka surya ki tarah. Her speech and style are very phenomenal. Great lady!
One question you want to be asked?
Someone should ask me, When I born again, next janam, what I want to be.... And my answer to that? Definitely same! Musician and great composer. Every janam I want to feel yes, Im doing sangeet ka seva. Im not boosting [boasting about] myself but anywhere you go — London airport, Dubai airport, New York airport — everybody knows Bappi Lahiri, my sunglasses and my dress!
blush & be
The sexiest woman you have ever met...
Baba! Sexiest woman? As a singer I have met sexiest woman Samantha Fox… Touch Me. Now I like Beyonce (Knowles), latest… [blushes] and Sheila ki jawani… Katrina Kaif!
You look sexiest in...
My laughing. My sweet laughing. My face, my laughing, all different. I look very… romantic.
Cricket and football. I am a sports lover. I was playing cricket at childhood time but now I want to watch. I am recording song for IPL also. Shah Rukh (Khan) called me. Bengali band mix aisa kuch sochna hoga.
What question do you want to ask Bappi Lahiri? Tell email@example.com