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Disco Dancer and how Bappi Lahiri made a name by lifting Western tunes

Some of the popular tracks from the Mithun Chakraborty blockbuster Disco Dancer, which was released on 10 December 1982, were 'inspired' by Western hits.

Mayur Lookhar

RD Burman had explored the pop and disco genres, but it was Bappi Lahiri who ushered in a revolution with his disco tunes in the early 1980s.

Having tapped into the contemporary music scene with his earlier films, Lahiri delved into disco with Babbar Subhash's Disco Dancer (1982). This was a film that turned Mithun Chakraborty into a star. Disco Dancer was a rags-to-riches story, with some family drama thrown in. The disco spectacle was one that Indian fans had never seen before.

With time, the plotline has been forgotten, but the music continues to strike a chord with audiences. It is no surprise that Lahiri was heavily inspired by the Western music of the time and borrowed (or stole?) from them for his compositions. 

1) Koi Yahan Aha Naache Naache v/s Video Killed The Radio Star (1979)

Lahiri copied even the 'Auva Auva' part, which gave away the blatant plagiarism, but nobody complained back then. Even the Buggles who made the all-time classic ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ (1979) just put their shades on and kept quiet. 

2) Krishna Dharti Pe Tu Aaja v/s Jesus 

Is plagiarism a sin? The Lahiri of the 1980s may answer that in the negative.

The Tielman brothers, led by frontman Andy Tielman, were the first Dutch East Indies band to successfully venture into the international music scene in the 1950s. They were devout Christians and this was proved by their ‘Jesus’ track. The lyrics went something like, ‘Jesus, won’t you come back to us? Jesus come back into our hearts'. More than a song, this was a lyrical plea by the Tielmans.

Years later, inspired by ‘Jesus’, Lahiri made a similar plea to Lord Krishna, with ‘Krishna Dharti Pe Tu Aaja Krishna’. Maybe some creative divine intervention would have saved us from this one. 

3 Jimmy Jimmy v/s You’re OK 

At parties in the 1990s and early 2000s, the D.I.S.C.O. track was a staple. While it has been mixed by DJs all over the world, it was the band Ottawan that originally came up with it. Comprising Caribbean-born singer Jean Patrick Baptiste and Annette, Ottawan shone briefly between 1979 and 1981 and gave us tracks like D.I.S.C.O. and Sha La La. 

Lahiri lifted parts of the cheery song 'You're OK' for Disco Dancer's 'Jimmy Jimmy' where Rita (Kim Yashpal) is trying to cheer up the shattered Jimmy (Chakraborty). Anjaan penned decent lyrics and Parvati Khan crooned like a pop star. The music was largely inspired by Ottawan’s 'You’re OK'. 

While there is no doubt that Lahiri depended heavily on 'inspiration' for the soundtrack of Disco Dancer, the popularity of these numbers remains intact.