Art & Entertainment

When Bappi Lahiri Came To Record 'Bumbai Nagariya' For Milan Luthria's 'Taxi No. 9211'

Filmmaker Milan Luthria Remembers working with Bappi Lahiri, who died in Mumbai on Wednesday (February 16) for 'Bumbai Nagariya' from 'Taxi No 9211' and 'Ooh La La' from 'The Dirty Picture'

Bappi Lahiri dies at 69
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It was 2005, when filmmaker Milan Luthria was sitting with music composers Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani, discussing the possible name of singers who could have sung the song, 'Bumbai Nagariya' for the film 'Taxi No. 9211'. Although he doesn't remember who suggested the name first, but vividly remembers that the trio unanimously and "almost instantly" agreed on Bappi Lahiri as the right choice

"I remember we were discussing how we needed a singer, who could use his voice to take the song to a whole new level, because it had this entire vibe of Mumbai city, you know. We were just jamming, Vishal, Shekhar and I. It was an instant yes, as soon as his name came up. He had that distinct voice, we were sort of looking for and we instantly agreed to work with Lahiri for this song," he recalls.

Despite having set up a legacy by 2005, Luthria recalls how Bappi da, as everyone fondly refers to him in the industry, came to record the song, despite the heavy Mumbai rain. "And on time! He said he'd be there in an hour, and he was in the studio in an hour," Luthria says. "He came along with his daughter, in ankle-deep water. He heard the composition, and instantly said he loved it. Asked us to kill the lights, because he liked singing in the dark, and just asked us to basically let him loose," he adds.

The song went on to become one of the biggest hits that year, and the proof of that can be deduced from the sheer number of remix versions of the song that followed after the original's release.

Lahiri's distinct voice, set him apart and Luhtria doesn't disagree with it either. "Unlike Kishore da, or even a Kay Kay or Sonu (Nigam), Bappi da has a very unique and a very distinct voice, which is what makes those songs so memorable. His control over his voice, be it the high or low notes, was impeccable and had a width of chords, which helped him to sing even the difficult bits, effortlessly," he says.

The distinct voice saw Luthria work Lahiri for the second time for another hit, 'Ooh La La', from the 2010 film 'The Dirty Picture'. The song is still one of the most prominent songs on the airwaves and again, as Luthria puts it, Lahiri's singing has a big role to play in the popularity of the song.

"He took it another level again with 'Ooh Lala'. I remember when I approached him, he told me he'd do anything for me because he told me I gave him a second lease of life with 'Taxi No 9211', because I had used a brief clip of him in that song. He was always just such a humble guy to work with, and despite such popularity, and being a senior figure, he never pretended that he was some big shot. He always enjoyed his music, enjoyed singing and was really passionate about it as well," he says.

Luthria has fond memories of working with the legendary composer-singer, who, as Luthria puts it, was one of India's greatest ever musical icons. "People see all the bling and judge him for that. But with all that image, he was also one of the most talented music composers, who managed to give the so called Big 3, a run for their money at that time. Hits Like Inteha Ho Gayi Or Raat Baki, just sort of prove how the music he created, will always stay timeless, forever," he signs off.

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