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

  • Bappi Lahiri is often accused of plagiarising songs from the west. He once responded to the allegations, and said that his folk often inspired his pieces. Bappi Lahiri turns 69  on Saturday.
Bappi Lahiri is making music in Bollywood for almost four decades now.
Bappi Lahiri is making music in Bollywood for almost four decades now.
Published on Nov 27, 2021 04:18 PM IST
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Musician Bappi Lahiri turns 69 on Saturday and the singer-musician has ruled Indian film industry for decades now. He is known for his popular songs such as I Am A Disco Dancer, Pyar Bina Chain Kaha Re and Naino Me Sapna, to name a few. His superstardom notwithstanding, Bappi Lahiri is often accused of plagiarising content from the west.

Bappi Lahiri took the allegations head-on, in a 2007 interview and claimed that copying has been a tradition in the industry, even SD Burman and RD Burman copied songs a lot. During an interview with Aaj Tak, the interviewer said that the music of Naushad and others before him had a “different originality”, but when Bappi Lahiri decided to do music for disco, he must have been inspired by someone, or maybe copied some western musicians.

Bappi Lahiri then said, “If we talk about copying, it is a tradition. Salil Chowdhury also copied Mozart. SD Burman also copied, RD Burman copied a lot. What they did was, they’d be inspired by a small piece. Now what do I do in modern environment? Mithun Chakravorty was dancing like John Travolta, Michael Jackson. So I had to take 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 song 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 case against western musician Dr Dre for copying the Indian singer’s Kaliyon Ka Chaman for his album Addictive. Interestingly, another song from the same film as Kaliyon Ka Chaman, the 1981 film Jyoti, was a copy of a song. Sung by Kishore Kumar, Chidiya Choon Choon was copy of the song Mary Ann by Roaring Lion. Bappi reworked on the same song again in 1991 for the film Yodha's song Whole Day Whole Night.

Roaring Lion's song:

Talking about it, Bappi Lahiri 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."

Also read: Bappi Lahiri unfazed by ‘insider-outsider’ debate: ‘If it’s in your destiny to be a star, no one can stop you’

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 afterwards, so it’s okay and I am happy.”

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