Now, we bring you his son Bappa Lahiri‘s conversation with us, which is FIRST and EXCLUSIVE after Bappida’s demise.
I don’t know where to start and what to say but I had interviewed your legendary father last year. It was an honour talking to him…
Yes, I know. I was here in India almost throughout 2021. Dad was unwell but he was recovering, he had even started working- going for TV shows, doing jingles, we also did a Ganpati song. I went back to Los Angeles on December 3. We had spent every family member’s birthday in 2021 and done every puja together, including Ganpati and Durga puja. I was waiting for him to come to Los Angeles.
We also reproduce Bappida’s interview that we had carried on February 16.
Had he said that he’ll be coming?
How did it all suddenly start going downhill?
I really don’t know. He was in the hospital for a large part of last month. But every time I called him, he said he’s getting better. On Monday (February 14) he said he wants to go home; he kept saying ‘ghar chalo ghar chalo’.
Next day, he was not eating. Things weren’t looking nice since that evening (February 15). Mom told him ‘theek hai baad mein thoda kha lena’. We had two nurses. He started feeling very drowsy. We called the doctor.
Was it a breathing issue due to OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) again?
No, it wasn’t a breathing issue. I think his heart just stopped. My sister, brother-in-law and mother rushed him to the hospital. The doctor had been called and he said that he needs to be taken to the hospital. They reached the hospital but he couldn’t be revived. I was on the phone all the time.
We had spoken to Dr Deepak Namjoshi, Senior Pulmonary Surgeon who was treating Bappida. Click on the link below to read that:
Will you be going back?
I have to figure that out, but no. I want to be with my mother. She has lived her entire life for my Dad.
I still can’t believe that he is not around. I was his arranger. I used to do shows with him. There are so many memories. The love we are getting from everyone is unbelievable, my Dad was not just a musician or singer, he connected with everyone- right from a porter to a rickshawallah to every single soul.
We want to carry his legacy forward. He followed all the puja traditions. My Dad still fasted on certain days. He was a Godly person.
Did he wear gold at home too?
Well, he definitely wore it each time we went out. I remember my friends ragging me in school, saying that your father dresses so flashily and wears sunglasses even in daylight. I used to ask him why he needs sunglasses at 6 am. But if he was out, he always wanted to be tip-top. He chose his own clothes. He chose his own colours.
I used to ask him why he goes to award ceremonies. Ghar par awards rakhne ki jagah nahi bachi hai aur aap award functions mein abhi bhi jaate ho. He used to say ‘no, I will go, somebody has called me earnestly and I should not disappoint him’.
Did he listen to music in hospital?
Oh, yes. And he used to tap at the table near his bed as the songs rolled along. One day, he started singing loudly in the hospital. Mom said ‘kya kar rahe ho?’.
Dad was affected by Lata ji’s demise. He used to call her ‘Maa’. She had helped him a lot. I am not able to digest that he is still not here. I can’t believe it.
A young boy came from Calcutta and made an empire solely on his own, no producer was constantly backing him, no camps, nothing. His contribution in the careers of so many successful actors is immense. There are songs of his which people sing and dance to, but they don’t know which movie it is- such was his impact. Saare ghar mein unki awaaz goonjti thi. It’s still echoing in my ears.
Did you try to sing like him?
Yes, but he was one of a kind. We can only say and do whatever we want, but I don’t think my Dad is replaceable. Till date, there are no parties where his songs don’t reverberate. He is called Disco King, but hear his emotional songs! My Dad never bothered who said what about him or who wrote what about him. If I reminded him, he used to say ‘let it be’.
At this point, I really don’t know what more to say.