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When Bappi Lahiri sued Dr. Dre for lifting his song Kaliyon ka Chaman: ‘Even in Hollywood, everyone knows me’

When Bappi Lahiri sued Dr. Dre for lifting his song Kaliyon ka Chaman: ‘Even in Hollywood, everyone knows me’

A story by Jasmine Kaur


Musician Bappi Lahiri turned 69 on Saturday and singer musicians have dominated the Indian film industry for decades. He is known for popular songs such as I Am a Disco Dancer, Pyar Bina Chain Kaha Re, and Naino Me Sapna. Despite his superstar, Bappi Lahiri is often accused of plagiarizing content from the West.

Bappi Lahiri recorded the allegations directly in a 2007 interview, claiming that copying was an industry tradition and that even SD Burman and even RD Burman copied many songs. In an interview with AajTak, the interviewer said that the music of Naushad and others before him had “different originality”, he must have been inspired by someone, or maybe copied some western musicians.

Bappi Lahiri said: Salil Chowdhury also copied Mozart. I also copied SD Burman; RD Burman copied a lot. What they did was get inspiration from small pieces. What am I doing now in a modern environment? Mithun Chakravorty danced like John Travolta, Michael Jackson. So, I had to put up with that beat.

“But even in that (modern, disco style music), when Anil Kapoor did a disco dance in Saheb, Yaar Bina Chain Kaha Re. That was total folk. I did a few songs based on western music. But I prefer…De De Pyaar De is folk-based.” The musician then listed some of his most famous songs from the 80s and said that when he was at his peak, giving songs to 12 hit films in a year, all of those songs were based on folk.

Bappi Lahiri`s song:

In 2003, Bappi Lahiri won a copyright proceeding against Western musician Dr. Dre for copying Indian singer Kaliyon Ka Chaman to his album Addictive. Interestingly, another song from the same movie as Kaliyon Ka Chaman, the 1981 movie Jyoti, was a copy of the song. Chidiya Choon Choon was a copy of Roaring Lion’s song Mary Ann, sung by Kishore Kumar. Bappi recreated the same song in 1991 for the movie Yoda’s song Whole Day Whole Night.

Roaring Lion’s song:

Talking about it, BappiLahiri had told Hindustan Times in an interview in 2009, “Even in Hollywood, everyone knows me. I have offers from Whitney Houston and Jackson Five. All this happened because Bappi Lahiri’s Disco Dancer was a phenomenal hit. And (sings) Jimmy, jimmy, Aaja, Aaja, was sung by the famous singer M.I.A., who has been nominated for Oscar.”

He added, “Even in the Adam Sandler movie, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, they used the tune of the song in the background and then gave my name in the credits along with other famous superstars like Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson. Dr. Dre used my song Kaliyon ka Chaman in his album Addictive, for which I sued him. But he gave credits afterward, so it’s okay and I am happy.”

About Bappi Lahiri

Alokesh “Bappi” Lahiri (born November 27, 1952, India) is an Indian singer, composer, politician, and music producer. He popularized the use of synthesized disco music in Indian cinemas and sang some of his own compositions. He delivered great box office hits such as Amar Sangi, Asha O Bhalobasha, Aamar Tumi, Amar Prem, Mandira, Badnam, Raktelekha and Priya. He was known for movie soundtracks in the 1980s and 1990s, includingWardat, Disco Dancer, NamakHalaal, Dance Dance, Commando, Saheb, Gang Leader, Sailaab, and Sharaabi. Lahiri joined the BJP in 2014.

The abandoned disco track Zindagi Meri Dance Dance by composer Bappi Lahiri was featured in the release of the vinyl album at the time but was excluded from the Babbar Subhash movie Dance Dance. Rediscovered and revived in the 2017 gangster movie “Daddy” by director AshimAhluwalia, starring Arjun Rampal. The re-release of this song was a huge success and became one of the top tracks of the year.

Ahluwalia wanted an authentic 80s BappiLahiri sound and not an overproduced remix. Norwegian producer Olefonken reworked the song to be more dynamic for contemporary sound systems but kept many of the original elements including the original vocals of Alisha Chinai and Vijay Benedict as well as the original synth and drum machines. The choreographer of Ahluwalia’s first film Miss Lovely, was ironically Kamal Nath, who had also worked on B. Subhash’s disco film Dance Dance and Commando starring Mithun Chakraborty, both of which feature BappiLahiri soundtracks.