Don’t we all come to a point in life when we cannot remember any incident, movie, song or news completely? It comes back to us in snatches like a melody played in Vividh Bharathi some five households away and we are able to hear only the high notes!!
Speaking of Melodies(!!!!)…I keep seeing Bappi Lahiri on TV these days. My mom is a fan of his comments and his Bongliness. She keeps Saying that he is very Bhadro (eeks.. with all those chains, does’nt he get choked!!) and my missus freaks out on his mannerisms and comments for all the wrong reasons (the amajhing accent..main hi Disco India mein laya..Oneek you are tha naambaar oane..types). Well, the poor guy is a hopeless case on TV and is a prime candidate for situational comedy but he has had a brilliant run in Indian movie industry!! I started to find out how much I could remember of him from my childhood and youth. After all the guy made us trip over the Disco beats all those years back, didn’t he!
Disco Dancer comes first. I begin with “I am a Disco Dancer”. A pulsating number that made all of us do the Mithun foot tapping trick and the trademark pelvic shove at all possible places including my school assembly once when I heard it in a distant loudspeaker in Chandrapur. The number had a continuous disco beat but Bappida had done some amazing things with Vijay Benedict’s vocals. I went orgasmic with “Aao mere saath nacho – gao!!”. Mithun had done this like a stage performance in the movie and the song was apt as it was one strong appeal for guys to Disco. The drums rolled and the Sax made new sounds that had not been heard in Indian movies before that. A crescendo never seen before!!
Next in Line is “Auvva..Auvva…koi yahan aha naache naache”. This is the song that actually I took fancy to when I heard the tracks the first time. It had an oomph that only an Usha Uthup could put across. The gruff vocals and those smooth transitions from top to base. Effortless! I should mention here that a guy called B Hiremath who suspiciously sounded like Bappida himself did the male riffs here and what Disco. Priceless! Only, it translated onto screen through Karan Razdan (?) and Kim (??), two complete non entities in Indian cinema and with two great left legs. B Subhash was completely intent on making money only through Mithun’s antics. Now, you see what was Bappida’s contribution to that super hit!
After this was Kishore Kumar’s crazy “Ae o ah..ah o aha…Zara mudke dikha aankhen”..if you do come across the song again, mark the “Tere Liye!!” that he does in five different ways. Yes, Bappida did a classical touch in a total Disco gaana! KK had a fantastic take on the Disco dhoom that was happening then. When asked why he sang such songs that was beneath his capabilities, he said, “Tum khilaoge mujhe…Ghar le jaake!!”. The interviewer had just shut up after that.
Jimmy Jimmy aa ja..was a refrain that had its roots in some English ditty that I am unsure of but what the hell…here was a pure Indian melody just given a Disco face. Imagine, it had a sad version too. Bappida’s genius was in getting Parvati Khan to go as full throat as she could go and drawing those breaths from her to make it sensuous for the listeners. Wow!!
Yaad aa raha hai….was again sung by Hiremath and some very good lyrics pervaded the number. I don’t remember all of it but it was enjoyable to the core. Bappida excelled here and with a voice that never made any other significant contribution to Indian cinema.
Last but not the least were “Goron ki na kalon ki” and “Krishnaa..dharti pe aaja tu”. Goron..was sung by Suresh Wadkar and Usha Mangeshkar. There is an amazing bongo riff in this otherwise normal Indian road song that went turrr…turrrrr. I remember that I used to sit in the last bench of my class and try to do this on my writing table with my fingers tapping the rhythm. “Krishnaa…” was sung by Nandu Bhende. I had a hard time finding out his name when I first heard the song. The violins were used very imaginatively in this song. Hear it and you would know what I am talking about and it had Bappida doing something new ‘Pathos Disco’. That’s something I have invented now, as there was no classification of this ‘Mithun in distress’ number.
Disco Dancer heralded the arrival of B. Subhash as the Disco producer of India. Kasam paida karne wale ki and Dance Dance were to follow. Tarzan came even later.
I should follow this up with a write up on the other tracks of B Subhash, Mithun and Bappida mentioned above. Save it for another day!!!