Revisting “Jimmy Jimmy” by Shannon K and Bhappa B. Lahiri

Dramatic Bollywood Disco Fusion Flashback by Shannon K and Bhappa B. Lahiri

I asked my father, who migrated from India over 30 years ago, if he knew the song “Jimmy Jimmy Aaja,” he smiled and pulled out his phone to show me the vivid music video oozing with 80’s ethos. Growing up, I had heard the song on throwback nights on the radio but never realized its massive cultural impact. It was produced by Bhappi Lahiri, the king of Bollywood Disco, in 1982 for the soundtrack of the film called Disco Dancer.

The film’s lead, Mithun Chakraborty, is deemed the pioneer of the Bollywood dance, which has set the trend for the entire industry until today, which intertwines music and dance as a complementary addition to the film’s plot. Having Bhappi Lahiri behind the boards making danceable songs allowed for this trend of dance within Bollywood film to flourish until today, something not seen in the Bollywood industry until after the release of “Disco Dancer” in 1982.

“Jimmy Jimmy Aaja” was one of the first songs with planned choreography. It holds the world record for being dubbed into 45 languages and was originally sung by Pavarti Khan, a Tobagan Indian classical singer. The song interpolates (not samples) the melody from “T’es Ok” by French disco singer Ottowan. The melody is similar, but the Bollywood version takes the song in its own direction, with passionate singing, signature disco strings, and a really catchy hook. 

Unfortunately, Bhappi Lahiri, the original composer, passed away in 2022, which also resulted in the loss of an entire chapter of the Bollywood music canon. Nevertheless, Shannon K’s new track “Jimmy Jimmy” is a formidable tribute to the Disco legend. The production is more polished with livelier percussion, modernized synths, and more grandiose strings. Shannon’s vocal performance rivals Pavarati’s amazing voice in the original song. Shannon captures the essence of the song while still showcasing her unique vocal talent and sophisticated style. One can truly recognize. Listeners can observe her vocal ability as she rings a little vibrato at the end of each vocal line to spice up the original song. In addition to Shannon’s vocal efforts, it is so fitting that Bhappi Lahiri’s son, Bhappa Lahiri, is also featured in the song as a composer and songwriter, carrying on his father’s immense musical legacy. 

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All of this is to say that when someone covers a song, it is a sign of respect and a responsibility for the performer to uphold the highest standard when representing the original artists’ legacies. It is fitting that Shannon K and Bhappa Lahiri were able to do this cover of “Jimmy Jimmy” so newer generations of music listeners, like myself, can connect with those before them, as I did with my father. I believe this renewed version of the song can carry the cultural impact of the original song and its legendary creator, Bhappa Lahiri, for generations to come. 

Shannon K performs live in LA at Radio5′ Events’ Bollywood Flashback Party on June 22nd.  Lookout for her next collaboration “Rakshak” with Mischief.

____________________________________________________________________________ *Additional contextual info on the film: 

The movie Disco Dancer tells the peculiar story of a man who lost his mom to electrocution on stage due to sabotage. Jimmy, the film’s lead, is then scared to return to the stage during the Disco era. The lead’s love interest then uses the song “Jimmy Jimmy Aaja,” which directly translates to “Jimmy Jimmy, come on!” as she tries to get him to perform again.






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