Disco Deewane

Popular Hindi film music in the seventies was a musical mélange of Shankar Jaikishen, R.D Burman and Kalyanji – Anandji. But come the 80’s and a whole new genre exploded into the Hindi music scene – the Disco era. Cinema for Change does a bit of digging into the disco depths of Hindi cinema.

As far as music goes, Bappi Lahiri is the unquestioned leader of the Disco pack. The man with a singularly unique fashion style, Bappi Da breathed fresh energy into the music scene with his Western disco inspired beats. In 1982, Vijay Benedict crooned to Bappi’s I am a Disco Dancer giving India its first dance idol - Mithun Chakraborty. Disco dancer was India’s answer to Hollywood’s Saturday Night Fever. Needless to say, it was a humongous success, and has the record of an impossible feat – winning an award for its music in China.

Closely following on Bappi’s heels is Biddu. Responsible for introducing the Pakistani based brother-sister pop duo Nazia and Zohaib Hassan to the Indian audience. Rumour has it that swashbuckling actor/producer Feroz Khan tracked down the London based Biddu to compose a song for his 1980 movie Qurbani. The song Aap Jaisa Koi not only gave India its most legendary sex symbol in Zeenat Aman, but also a taste of what’s to come in Hindi cinema in the heroine Vs vamp dichotomy. It also paved the way for 15 year old Nazia Hassan to pursue a career beyond playback singing with her multi-selling pop album Disco Deewane in collaboration with Biddu.

Such was the appeal of disco that even Kumar Gaurav (son of popular actor Rajender Kumar) tried his hand at a full fledged disco movie Star (1982) with disastrous results. Star was a box office dud, but it had one of the hottest soundtracks of the 80’s with Nazia’s Boom Boom and Zohaib’s Oiee Oiee. The music was given by none other than Biddu thus cementing another musical combination which will go down in cinema history.

The disco trend was not limited to music; it stamped its presence on camera angles, choreography, costumes and lightning. Amitabh Bachchan’s disco inspired light bulb lit costume for the hit song Sara Zamana Haseeno Ka Deewana from Yarana (1981) put the seal of approval on disco as a genre with far reaching influence.

The best amalgamation of this genre into the Hindi filmscape was through Subhash Ghai’s Karz (1980). A typical disco era movie with a storyline revolving around a singer/entertainer’s life, coupled with reincarnation twists and revenge saga, Karz was the mother of all pot boilers. A shiny jumpsuit wearing Rishi Kapoor does his thing on a Sudhendu Roy designed giant turntable with the spinning record and stylus for the song Om Shanti Om and walks into the Indian moviegoers heart and some more. So much so that 27 years later when director Farah Khan does a Karz inspired Om Shanti Om with Shahrukh Khan, the appeal of disco still holds true. Of course, the turntable has been replaced with a six pack, but we still have the Dard-e-Disco.

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