Sunday, March 8, 2009

Jajabor, you are the chosen one- A rich tribute to the Asom Ratna winner

The Telegraph-30-01-2009
By Surjya Hazarika


Bhupen Hazarika is Assam’s Shakespeare. He is our Leonardo Da Vinci. Our very own Paul Robeson. He is the state’s Rabindranath Tagore. He is our pride and joy. A living manifestation of the dreams and hopes of every Assamese. He is all these and more. Because he is Bhupen Hazarika.

As the state conferred the Asom Ratna on him tonight, I had a lump in my throat. It is because of the happiness that we, the Assamese, collectively feel whenever the legend is honoured on any platform. But this award is very big. And there can be none more deserving to be awarded the first Asom Ratna.

When Emperor Akbar conferred the Navaratna title on nine of his best associates, the spotlight was more on Tansen and Birbal. I am constrained to say that there may be other awardees of Asom Ratna in the years to come, but Bhupen Hazarika will remain the chosen one.

Consider his contributions to Assam’s vast socio-literary and cultural field. It’s simply mind-boggling. He is a singer, a lyricist, a composer, a poet, a writer, a translator, an actor and more. A jajabor — vagabond — in his own words, Bhupenda has made the world his homeand millions of people across the globe his family.

For me, Bhupenda’s magnetic personality is a combination of his physical and artistic attributes — tall and straight when upright and an ever-smiling face which radiates energy. Anybody who has had the opportunity of spending time with Bhupenda will vouchsafe that the singer is never short of energy.

However, Bhupen Hazarika is not just about his physical presence, he has transcended that stage to a much more elevated realm. And that’s because of his music, which has become a part of our everyday life.

What makes his songs so special are the lyrics, the powerful words, the metaphors and above all, the haunting tunes. He has given patriotism a new meaning with his numerous songs about his motherland.

As the chairperson of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, it was because of the tireless efforts of Bhupen Hazarika that Sattriya dance was elevated to the status of an Indian classical dance form, which has gone a long way in enhancing the status of the entire Sattriya culture.

Bhupen Hazarika is today not just a “great” singer of Assam; the light of his creations has spread far and wide, across the world. He has given us, the Assamese, an identity in the world. Like Shakespeare gave the English that special identity. Like Rabindranath Tagore gave Bengalis that special identity. Why should we, too, not bask in the glory of Bhupenda?

On this very special occasion, I join the entire state in wishing him a long life and good health.

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