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Disco Dancer Comes Alive On Stage

April 12, 2023 15:24 IST

'The music was so good that I felt that it would be a great way to bring it back to life.'

IMAGE: Mithun Chakraborty in Disco Dancer.

Music composers Salim-Sulaiman have something exciting in store for music enthusiasts, especially for those who are diehard fans of Bappi Lahiri's disco music, which reached phenomenal levels of popularity and success in the 1980s.

The duo has re-imagined the score of one of Lahiri's iconic films Disco Dancer (1982) for a Broadway show based on it.

Disco Dancer: The Musical, the show was warmly received in London and is now set for its Indian premiere on Friday, April 14.

Salim Merchant of the Salim-Sulaiman duo speaks to Contributor Mohnish Singh and tells him, "I have lived my childhood with Disco Dancer, so that makes me an important candidate (to re-imagine its score)."

Tell us about Disco Dancer: The Musical.

The film Disco Dancer did a business of Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion), and it stole a lot of hearts.

The music made people go crazy about it, and Mithun Chakraborty.

I am sure people watched the film at least twice (in theatres). That's why it was such a huge success.

The music was top notch and the story was very interesting, so we thought it would be great to bring this 1980s back in 2023, and make an incredible musical.

To recreate the whole movie on stage was a big challenge but I love challenges.

The music was so good that I felt that it would be a great way to bring it back to life.

We have churned out two new songs too, so there is something new for the audience as well.

Watch the Disco Dancer rehearsal. Video: Afsar Dayatar/


What do you like most about the music of the '80s?

I think the '80s music brought a lot of happiness. When you listen to the music of that era, it brings a smile to your face.

It creates a happy vibe.

There were a lot of party songs in the 1980s.

That music also has a timeless quality, something that will go on forever.

What are your favourite tracks of Bappida?

There are two particular songs in this film that are extremely popular: Yaad Aa Raha Hai and Auva Auva.

Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna is yet another beautiful song.

Bappida had composed a lot of party songs, but apart from that, he has done some great melodies too.

Watch: Salim Merchant sings his favourite Bappida songs. Video: Afsar Dayatar/


What is the most challenging part of re-imagining Bappida's music?

Bappida's sounds.

There were a few sounds that were very difficult to recreate.

We have those sounds today, but to get the exact one was very difficult.

In Disco Dancer, some parts of the base guitar were outstanding. To recreate those base tunes again -- and we successfully recreated them -- was a big challenge.

IMAGE: The Incomparable Bappi Lahiri. Photograph: Kind courtesy Bappi Lahiri/Instagram

Do you recall your first meeting with him?

We met for the first time at a recording.

I don't remember the film, but Bappida's arranger was Arun Podwalji. We worked under him.

Later in the evening, Bappida came and listened to the song.

He knew my father very well, so he met us in a loving way.

What do you think makes Sulaiman and you the best candidates for re-imagining Bappida's music for Disco Dancer: The Musical?

That's difficult for me to say. But when this film came in the '80s, we loved the songs.

We used to play them in our local band, and in our school band.

I have lived my childhood with Disco Dancer, so that makes me an important candidate.