Bappi Lahiri, one of the most versatile composers to have worked in the Hindi film industry, left for his heavenly abode on 15 February, 2022. Despite not being proficient in Hindi himself, he gave a lot of importance of lyrics and worked with innumerable lyricists throughout his career. While he worked frequently with veteran lyricists, he was open to collaborating with newer writers as well. Lyricist Dev Kohli, who started his career with films like ‘Lal Patthar’ (1971) and ‘Jeevan Rekha’ (1974), wrote a bunch of songs for the late composer in the ‘70s.
Remembering those days, Kohli says, “I had known Bappi ji from his struggling days. Actually, those were my struggling days too. He had come from Kolkata with his parents and the three of them were living in a tiny room in the suburbs. I remember having many music sittings with him there. He was just 19-20 years old then. Despite him being so young, his compositions were very mature. Later, the family shifted to an apartment in Juhu. Because of his immense hard work and talent, he achieved success soon enough and then, bought a bungalow.”
Out of the 7-8 songs Dev Kohli wrote for Bappi Lahiri, one of the best is the Mohammed Rafi solo ‘Phoolon Ki Tarah’ from the film ‘College Girl’. The same film had the evergreen romantic number ‘Pyar Manga Hai Tumhi Se’ which was written by Shiv Kumar Saroj and sung by Kishore Kumar.
“He told me that he needed a song written urgently. Mostly, he would ask me to write the lyrics first and then, compose a tune around it. Bappi ji and I started our careers almost at the same time. However, after a point, I didn’t get the opportunity to work with him. As newer composers came, I got busy writing for them. After ‘Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!’, I would be busy with 3-4 recordings every single day”, the veteran lyricist remembers.
The title track of Rajshri Productions’ ‘Ek Baar Kaho’ was another popular song that Dev wrote for Lahiri had not met Lahiri in a long time. He remembers the late composer as a jovial human being who would always have a smile on his face and no malice for anyone in his heart.
“Bappi ji would always be in a cheerful mode. He would never lose his cool even in a tense situation. I had last met him at the muhurat of Taxi No. 9211 in 2006. I had written a couple of songs for the film and he had sung the song ‘Bambai Nagariya’ that was composed by Vishal and Shekhar and written by Vishal Dadlani.”