Lifted tunes have always been lucky for Bappi Lahiri. But when a “stolen” track turned chart-topper in the US, Bappi bathed blissfully in lawsuit-induced Hollywood spotlight. Now, he claims to have Stephen Spielberg’s studio, Dreamworks, beating down his door for a soundtrack.
After making a Bollywood career out of borrowed notes, Bappi is now singing all the way to the bank. Having slapped the producers of the hip-hop track Addictive, by Truth Hurts, with a suit for using part of his song from the 70s Kaliyon ka chaman, Bappi has won a court order to be given credit on the album. This, hopes the composer who put the spring in Samantha Fox’s step in Rock Dancer, is the beginning of life in Beverly Hills. “I have been approached by Stephen Spielberg’s company,” says the music-man, who has, apparently, been contacted by the makers of The Mask as well.
Having forgotten accusations of “plagiarism” of the defenceless “third world” and happy at having won “the war for the Indian composer”, Bappi is waiting for the millions to roll in. He takes full credit for the success of Addictive. “One of my songs has made it to the top of the US charts without my knowing it!” laughs the rotund man, braid of gold straining against his neck.
“I expect them to pay me royalties for using the song,” he adds, tickled by the fact that the once-forgettable melody has subsequently gone sky-high on the charts back home.
The man, who started in Tollywood, moved on to Bollywood and is now preparing to take on Hollywood, has recently finished recording a “fusion” track with what was once a rock gig of some popularity, ZZ Top. He and yoga guru Bikram Choudhury have launched a recording label, B Plus B, which will soon release Bikram’s Lounge, a world music album composed by Bappi, featuring the voices of an ex-Supreme and someone by the name of Briana, who Bappi claims is “Madonna’s cousin”. The producers are also hoping to find an Indian distributor for the album, which fuses nine languages and even incorporates the gayatri mantra.
While he is yet to seal the Hollywood flick deals, the music director is convinced that he will be able to catch a break. “These people are very interested in fusion. I can give them that. After all, I am the man who brought disco to India,” shrugs Bappi, running a ring-laden hand through long hair.