Friday, January 30, 2009

Dr Bhupen Hazarika: tathapito howa nai klanta

EDITORIAL - The Assam Trubune , 29-01-2009
— Prafullapran Mahanta
In the days of our youth, the major topic of our conversations was the songs of Dr Bhupen Hazarika. In our leisure moments when the numerous perplexities of our mind made us restless, his powerful songs were enough to give us pleasure, and we started singing Sagar Sangamat Katanu Saturiloo Tathapito Howa Nai klanta, a song of astonishing power, yet surpassingly beautiful. It brought everything close, the presence of the deep blue sea, the storms and the clouds, and the restless waves of the endless sea. We regarded Dr Hazarika as our friend, philosopher and guide. Even the blessing of the saint-singer, we felt, would prevent us from disaster of any kind. It was very uplifting to hear his name among our friends in those days of our youth. His sweet songs gave us boundless pleasure and led us towards the fountain of happiness.
I cannot remember what my age was when I first saw him at Tezpur town. I felt that there must be something good and great in the act of the musician, who had immense capacity to rouse and inspire the wretched people to overcome their pains and passions. Bhupenda gave vent to our feelings of joy and sorrow and his greatness lay there.
Dr Bhupen Hazarika sings for all, the great and small, the poor and rich. He knows the secret of music and song and as such he could make others know about it too. Bhupen Hazarika was born in 1926 at Sadiya. His father Nilakanth Hazarika was a government servant, serving as a political officer. Once he was transferred from Sadiya to Tezpur and there in that town his son Bhupen Hazarika began his school life. At that time Tezpur was the centre of culture with the presence of Jyotiprasad Agarwala and Bishnu Prasad Rabha, the eminent cultural icons of Assam. There in that town, theatrical performances were organised regularly in the famous hall known as Ban Stage - Bhupenda’s father was interested in performing dramas and hence he played in some roles.
Dr Bhupen Hazarika was fortunate to meet these two sons of Assam, who brought a great change in the field of lyrical songs and music. Works of modernisation had been done without affecting the basic truth and culture of the state, which have been respected by the people from time immemorial. Under the care of Jyotiprasad Agarwala and Bishnu Prasad Rabha, the thirteen year-old boy Bhupen Hazarika took position in a stage to sing once in Guwahati. His brave song surprised all as his lyrics promised change in society : Agni Yugar Firingathi Moi. (l am a spark of the fire age and I shall build a new state in our country”). It seemed that gradually he lost himself in deep pennants of art and culture, and in his creativity, Dr Hazarika made himself act in Jyotiprasad’s picture Indramalati, at the age of ten. He had to playback female voices in some pictures and dramas at his early age.
Man is the architect of his own fortune. Hazarika proved this in his life. When Hazarika was in Bharalumukh at Guwahati he got a chance to sing a song on the birth anniversary of Sri Sankardev. Here he appeared for the first time before the mass people as singer. He offered to sing a “Borgeet” in a national dress of dhoti and punjabi as was the custom of the Assamese people.
Dr Bhupen Hazarika’s song have a universal appeal as his expression touches the painful heart. So the people of many countries like his songs. We have acquired our freedom in 1947, but our minds are still in chains. Freedom means a free atmosphere where we can maintain our cultural traditions and enhance our natural resources and cultural wealth. India is known for her rich culture and tradition, but Indians today are enraptured by western culture. Ignoring our tradition and culture we are blindly following the western world. In this juncture, artistes like Bhupen Hazarika saved us from the pitfalls and reminded us that the food and water of this sacred land is so pure and holy that one who has fed on it can not easily go astray. It has brought us the capacity to realise our rich origin and strive to maintain our art and traditions.
The people of Assam have got a new cultural idea to try to bring about national unity and integrity. Hazarika’s glorious voice and his glorious music will provide us with a glorious future. It is delightful to remember some of his compositions and performances done for the people of all sections. Dr Hazarika expresses his views on the occasion of his seventy fifth birth anniversary at Guwahati towards the young generation of Assam to build our country. Our young men should be industrious, farsighted, to shoulder the responsibility with strong determination and diligence. He said, we must take part in the progressive affairs of India. We must learn to keep abreast of the present affairs of the present electronic world.
His lyrics encompass Bengali, Assamese and Hindi. The audience roars, the applause rising to a deafening pitch. Dr Bhupen Hazarika Dill Hoom Hoom Kare they demand from one end of the auditorium Dola-Dala from another. And Dr Hazarika, obliges his fans with his soul-stirring brand of folk music. Besides he is lovingly called by his admirers, has also been felicitated as India as a cultural ambassador who placed the music of eastern India on the map of world folk music.
Dr Bhupen Hazarika’s Assamese identity has never clashed with his Indian persona. His roots might cling firmly to Assam, but he learnt to identify with the rest of India. Being an Assamese, Dr Hazarika likes to project himself as a citizen of the world. This feeling has been clearly reflected in some of his songs, as for example, Mai Ati Jajabar. Dr Hazarika has succeeded in glorifying Assam with his songs and other cultural activities. He has projected the Assamese folk culture not only in India but throughout the World also.
Dr Bhupen Hazarika, the multifaceted genius has been hailed as the cultural ambassador of Assam to the rest of the world. He is one of the stalwarts of Indian music today. There are many facets to Bhupen Hazarika’s personality- singer, lyricist, musician, writer, film maker and social crusader through his songs. Bhupen Hazarika – the name itself is musical for the people of eastern India, whose Dil Hum Hum Kare won the heart of millions of people of India.
After his schooling in Tezpur and Collegiate Education in Guwahati he took MA Degree from Benaras Hindu University. He received a special word of praise when Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan handed him his certificate.
Then he left for the Columbia University, New York where he received his Doctorate in Mass Communication. He also received the Lisle Fellowship from the Chicago University It was during this period that he was awarded a Gold Medallion in New York as the best Interpreter of India’s folk songs by Eleanor Roosevelt.
He met Paul Robson, the legendry black singer in the USA and was greatly influenced by his idea that “Music is an instrument of social change.” On his return to his homeland, he joined the Gauhati University as a lecturer and went abroad in a cultural exchange programme where he overstayed by few days. The bold Bhupen tendered his resignation when some disciplinary action was initiated against him. He decided to take music as a livelihood and thereafter never looked back.
He made his first film Era Bator Sur in 1956 featuring Balraj Sahani and Bhupen himself. For three consecutive years he won the National Award for his films Sakuntala, Pratidhwani and Latighoti. In 1976, he won the Best Music Composer Award for Assamese film Chameli Memsab. His film Siraj, released in 1988 was based on story of Hindu-Muslim unity. He has also scores of music in Bengali and Hindi films.
He has been awarded the Padmashree (1977), Padmabhushan (2001), and Dadasaheb Phalke Award the highest honour for cinematic achievement, for his lifetime contribution to Indian cinema in 1993.
Assamese society acknowledged his contribution in literature by making him the President of Asam Sahitya Sabha, the apex literary body of the State. Heavily decorated with prestigious honours as he is, Hazarika was appointed the Chairperson of the Sangeet Natak Akademi. During his years as the Akademi Chairperson, the Satriya dance of Assam was recognised as one of the major dance forms of India.


Peter said...

It has been a superb effort appreciating the legend's immortal contributions. Regards

Rajib said...

Very well compiled piece of information on the legendary singer of Assam. Thanks.