Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Bhupen Mama - by Manisha Hazarika

Source : Chitra Sangbad , 26 April 1991
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AIR to embark on nostalgic trip

NEW DELHI, Feb 26 – Melodious numbers sung by icons of yesteryear are going to be back on the air to send you on a nostalgic trip, with All India Radio (AIR) planning to release popular numbers of selected artists. Though AIR does not have any proposal to release CDs of artists like Jyoti Prasad, Bishnu Rava, and Parbati Prasad among others, they are releasing some of their songs. This was disclosed by Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi in reply to a question by Anwar Hussain in Lok Sabha.

Prasar Bharti has informed that songs of some of the popular artists were available with Guwahati AIR and were being broadcast in various programmes.

The recording of the following artists has been preserved, the Minister said.

The seven artists included Jyoti Prasad Agarwala (25 minutes), Bishnu Rabha (80 mts), Parbati Prasad Barua (100 mts), Dr Bhupen Hazarika (360 mts), Rudra Barua (45 mts), Rekibuddin Ahmed (60 mts) and Pratima Pandey (300 mts).

Meanwhile, 25,000 Direct to Home (DTH) sets are proposed to be rushed to the Northeast to cover the uncovered areas of the Region as part of the special package for the Northeast cleared last year, the Minister said in reply to a separate question.

Action for procurement of these sets has been initiated by Doordarshan. Installation of the sets will have to be carried out by the State Governments, he added.

As part of DD’s project of KU band transmission, 1095 DTH units have been provided free of cost in the uncovered villages of Northeast for demonstration.
Source : The Assam Tribune , 27 Feb 2007

Over hundred popular songs ‘removed’ from AIR Guwahati archives

Believe it or not, more than 100 songs, recorded by the Guwahati station of All India Radio in the 1950s and 1960s are simply missing from its archives.

These include songs sung by internationally renowned singers like Bhupen Hazarika and Parveen Sultana.

The breaking of this news by Amar Asom, a popular vernacular daily has not only raked up a major controversy, but has also evoked widespread protest and condemnation from all over the state, compelling the AIR, Guwahati authorities to by and large admit the charges to be true.

According to the newspaper, AIR Guwahati, has erased at least 20 evergreen songs originally sung by Bhupen Hazarika and recorded in its studios in the 1950s and 1960s. They include Sagar teerat pori ralo moi, shamukar khola hoi, a song written by Nirmal Prabha Bordoloi, an internationally renowned poetess and former president of the Asom Sahitya Sabha. The same is the fate of songs originally sung by Parveen Sultana for All India Radio, Guwahati, way back in the ’60s, with the newspaper saying that one highly popular song sung by the renowned classical singer, Shanti kato je nai, nai was also allegedly missing.

More tragic is the case of Birendra Nath Dutta, a veteran singer and a contemporary of Bhupen Hazarika, all of songs have simply disappeared from the AIR archives. Luckily, Dutta had only a few years ago re-sung those songs and brought out new cassettes, without which his songs would have been gone forever.

Interestingly, it was only on June 21, 1997, when singing on the occasion to mark the golden jubilee of AIR, Guwahati, that Bhupen Hazarika too had raised the same charges against the station and had stated that he could get the station closed down by dragging it to court. "It is a criminal offence on the part of AIR, Guwahati to have erased a number of old songs," the music wizard had said on that day.

Reacting strongly to the issue, Lakshahira Das, another noted singer of yesteryears has said that a thorough enquiry needs to be carried out into the matter and the culprits identified and punished. She has alleged that several songs which were originally sung by her for AIR, Guwahati, were no longer available for replay.

"Akashvani has killed me even before my death," said the septuagenarian singer, whose voice was, during her heydays, the heart-throb of thousands of Assamese people. "Nowadays, tuning in to Akashvani, Guwahati, I sometimes hear some other singer singing the same songs," she added.

Interestingly, several citizens, reacting to the news item in the newspaper, have by and large also named the officer responsible for this "criminal offence". It has been indicated by several persons having inside information about the AIR, Guwahati affairs that the particular officer considers himself as a professional contender of Bhupen Hazarika, this being one reason why Hazarika was made the main target.

Readers taking part in the debate have in the meantime alleged that it was common that the AIR authorities were unable to play the particular number in most cases when listeners ask for them in the request programmes. "Very often the announcer would say that he was not able to immediately locate the particular number, and instead play an irrelevant song as a consolation," wrote one reader.

In several instances, AIR, Guwahati was also allegedly playing songs from HMV records after the originals recorded in its own studios had disappeared, the newspaper said.

Reacting to this, Lutfur Rahman, the Station Director of All India Radio, Guwahati, himself a popular broadcaster, has said that it was not mandatory that each and every song recorded by each and every artist should be preserved in the archives.

The system of archives was officially introduced only since 1990. Prior to that, programmes used to be preserved at the instance of interests shown by the local station as also some individual producers, keeping in mind the importance and the historical or archival value of such programmes," Rahman has said.

He also said that it was not possible for AIR to preserve all the songs of each and every artist for long. Moreover, the quality of some recordings gets deteriorated due to repeated playing over a short period of time, especially when such a song was at its peak of popularity, Rahman has contended.But the listeners of AIR, Guwahati refuse to buy any explanation. They want a thorough probe, as also the identification of the culprits, knowing well that even the sternest of steps now could not bring back to life some of the golden melodies which have already gone forever.
by Samudra Gupta Kashyap
Source : Screen India , 18 August 2000

Monday, October 1, 2007


Nostalgia : Jibon Batot
Source : Asomiya Pratidin , 30 sep-2007

The song of Bhupen Hazarika's life
Source : The Times of India ,19 Oct 2002,Sanghita Singh,TNN

is voice speaks a language which communicates melody without the crutch of words. This Padma Bhushan recipient is as complex in the interpretation of his messages as he is simple in the spontaneity of his feelings. For this singer, composer and poet, life is resonant with the rhythm of recognition. Yet, he has also suffered the jarring notes of destiny. Sanghita Singh unplugs the philosophy of a man who is as much a moving force for music as music is a moving force for him I was born into a family of teachers: I was born in 1926 in Sadiya, a village in Assam. We were six brothers and four sisters. My grandfather established the Bankshidhar Hazarakia School at Sibsagar. My father, Neelkantha Hazarika, taught at this school and, later, at Cotton College in Guwahati. I grew up in a family of teachers and was always inclined towards journalism. I was the first child of my parents and my grandmother's favourite. I attended Tejpur Government High School. My brother's death still pains me: Whenever Gandhiji and Pandit Nehru came to Assam, they would request my father to send me and my brother brother, Jayanta, to sing for them. Jayanta succumbed to cancer. His death was a shock and I took a long time to overcome my grief. Even today, I feel his absence. Tribal music made a singer of me: As a child, I grew up listening to tribal music — its rhythm saw me developing an inclination towards singing. Perhaps, I inherited my singing skills from my mother, who sang lullabies to me. In fact, I have used one of my mother's lullabies in Rudali. As a singer, I have also been influenced by Vaishnav thinker and Assam's most famous reformer, Sankardev, who is known for his devotional songs. I learnt music from Bishnu Prasad Rabha, who trained me in the Bhatkhande school of music. But I could not continue my lessons for long. I became a revolutionary: Between 1936-40, I accompanied Assamese poet and film-maker Jyoti Prasad Agarwala on his trips to Calcutta. He introduced me to the works of George Bernard Shaw. After school, I secured a degree in political science from BHU, where former PM Chandra Shekhar was my junior. We attended meetings at the Sangeet Bhawan in Benaras. Somewhere down the line, the revolutionary in me was born. My music and, later, my film scripts portray the ethnic anger I suffer from. I was too timid to pursue my love: I fell in love with a girl in Assam — she was 16 and I was 21. She sang so well that it struck a chord in my heart. Both of us worked at the local radio station and, on many occasions, we communicated through songs. But when our love blossomed, her parents had already found a suitable match for her. I blame myself for being a coward — I could and should have fought for her hand. I wanted to see the world: In 1949, I secured admission to the mass communications course at the University of Columbia. Wanting to see other places on the way, I didn't take a direct flight. I first went to Colombo, from where I sailed to Marseilles aboard the Champolean. I became friendly with a French traveller called Andre, who was depressed. One night, Andre jumped off the ship. I was both shocked and saddened. I met Picasso: Once in France, I had a strong desire to meet Picasso. An elderly guard informed me that if I managed to get up at 4 am, I might catch Picasso taking a walk with his friends. I did what I was told and, to my surprise, I actually saw Picasso. I went up to him and said, 'Sir, this is the best day of my life.' His reply was rather jocular: 'Hazarika is going to America after gathering information about me!' Picasso wanted to test my knowledge and asked me which of his paintings was my favourite. I told him I liked his works from the Blue period. He was pleased and blessed me. I felt humiliated in America: In America, I was taken to an island where a banner reading 'For war prisoners' had been put up. The officers there asked me why I wanted to study journalism in America when I had already been to Leeds. Questions such as 'How will you solve the problem of poverty in your country?' were thrust upon me. After interrogation, I was brought back to New York. Initially, America was a shock. The positive side was that I interacted with students from other countries and this gave me a global perspective. I found my soulmate in Priyamvada: At Columbia, I became friends with Priyamvada, who was pursuing an MA degree in political science. She belongs to a well-known Patel family and is of the same stock as Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. We fell in love, but my parents opposed the match. So, before we returned to India, we got married in America. But we were not meant to be together: Priyamvada's father, MM Patel, worked in Uganda but was subsequently removed from office. The family was in a precarious position and drifted from the UK to America. Meanwhile, we had returned to Assam and although I managed to sustain Priyamvada on my salary as a teacher, I did not deem it right to stop her from accepting a job in Canada. We had been married for 13 years when we separated. But we parted on good terms and still meet once a year. I regret neglecting my son: I still regret the fact that I never spent enough time with our son Tej Bhupen Hazarika when he was a child. I am sure he regrets this as well. Today, we have come to know each other better as father and son. Tej has adopted Buddhism and stays in the US with his American wife. I try to meet my son and daughter-in-law as often as possible. I became an MLA for a cause: After returning to Assam from America, I joined the Indian People's Theatre Association and was involved with music as a movement. I sang 'Ganga Behti Hai Kyun' for Indira Gandhi. The song conveyed a message — of silent rebellion against the system. In 1967, someone suggested that I could make a difference by joining politics. I wanted a national theatre and a national art gallery for Assam. I believed that by helping set up a government-sponsored studio for films in the North-East, both tribals and non-tribals would feel they were in power. I contested the elections and became an MLA. Kalpana, my secretary, is my adopted son: Since I never really nurtured my own son, Kalpana Lajmi, my secretary, has come to be my son. I met her for the first time through her uncle, Guru Dutt. In my 40-year-long association with her, she has been like a shadow. She has become my secretary and never lets me bother about my programme schedules. MF Husain has given me my best compliment: MF Husain called me up from England and requested me to compose music for Gajagamini. I was surprised that he preferred me to music veterans such as Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan. He said, 'Bhupen, you paint when you sing. Your music paints, but my brush can't sing.' I think this is the ultimate way to describe my music. Music is my life: Music elevates me to an indescribable feeling — a time when I feel weighty, yet modest. I am grateful to God for whatever I have attained. I only hope that music and the lyrical aspect of my life grows further. sanghitasingh@indiatimes.com