Saturday, June 13, 2009

Jiboner Kisu Kisu Rong-- One song from the movie Ekhane Pinjar

Story :Amol Basu is an eminent writer. He accidentally met Nabyendu in a police station. An intimate conversation with him reveals that Nabyendu actually is an educated and good person. But now he is being treated only as a criminal. According to Nabyendu, his environment, his poverty and present scenario is responsible for that. Amol was trying to search a good job for Nabyendu….Amol tried to his level best. But couldn't. Unfortunately one day Nabyendu died in an encounter with the police. Amol went to Nabyendu’s native place Birpur. Observing their poverty and miserable condition he could not tell the bitter truth. And gradually he became one of the family friends and well wishers of Nabyendu’s family. And then? You have to watch the whole movie to see how did he overcome the difficult situation .

Movie release year: 1970
Movie language: Bengali
Producer: Kala Mandir
Director: Jaatrik
Music Director: Bhupen Hazarika
Star Cast: Uttam Kumar, Aparna Sen, Dilip Mukherjee, Aparna Debi, Tarun Kumar, Ratna Ghoshal and many more.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Footloose Balladeer

By Jivraj Burman , Assam Tribune , 17 May 2009

First,a little explanation about the title I have chosen for this piece. I have some trepidation that the multitudes of die-hard fans of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika might object to my calling their idol a balladeer. If they do, my answer to them would be, well, I could not have called a person of Dr. Hazarika’s stature simply a songster, and it would have been too tame to call him a singer, though, in truth, that is what he is – a singer who sings songs penned and composed by himself. But then, he is not your every day crooner who sings only to enthral his listeners with his gifted vocal chords. Unlike many other singers, Dr. Hazarika uses his songs as a vehicle to communicate with others, to put across his thoughts to his eager listeners. His songs are pregnant with his views about contemporary Assam and the state of affairs prevailing at any given time in Indian society. In this sense, his songs are akin to what a ballad is, a lyrical chronology of passing events. This being so, I hope I am not wrong in calling him a balladeer, although not in the strict meaning of the word. “Footloose Balladeer,” a free translation of one of Dr. Hazarika’s famous songs, Moi eti jajabar, is actually the title of a book I am planning to write on the only legendary figure of Assam in post-Independent India. But, that is another subject.

Though volumes have been written about this gem of Assam in Assamese, little has been said about how other persons from the related fields in other parts of the country have evaluated his genius. Here, I would like to briefly indicate what some of these persons I have known as a journalist have to say about him. In my interactions with these personalities, whenever the topic of Dr. Hazarika has come up, all of them have observed unmistakably and admitted without hesitation that he is a figure of vast talents, that he sings soul-stirring songs which are rooted to the soil and that “he is of a breed which is fast vanishing from our midst”. The quoted line was articulated by K A Abbas.

I regret that I came into contact with Abbas sahab at the later stage of his life. My erstwhile senior colleague in Screen – Ali Peter John had cut his journalistic teeth apprenticing under Abbas sahab, along with the late actor Jalal Agha and filmmaker Tinnu Anand, son of the celebrated screenwriter of Hindi films of the sixties, Inder Raj Anand. Later, only Ali took up journalism as a profession. Jalal and Tinnu, naturally, chose their respective careers in the film industry, both having been weaned on films since their childhood. It was with Ali that I had met Abbas sahab for the first time in the mid- ‘70s. At the time I met him, he was nursing a fractured leg after a fall in his Juhu Tara Road home. He had just renovated the house with the substantial amount of money Raj Kapoor had given him after the stupendous box-office success of Bobby, along with an Ambassador car (until then he had never owned a car). So, he gave me the interview sitting on a wheelchair. After the interview was over and knowing that I was from Assam, he asked me what “Bhupen” was doing at the time. “He is a restless soul, but of a breed which is fast vanishing from our midst,” he said. He also said he wished “Bhupen” had stayed back in Mumbai when he had first come to the city in the early 1950s, at about the time Hemant Kumar, Bimal Roy and Salil Chowdhury had migrated from West Bengal. Then Abbas sahab recalled how the Mumbai branch of the IPTA had honoured Dr Hazarika during that visit and how he had taken him to the fishing village of the Kolis in Juhu Gaonthan, not very far from the Juhu Beach and asked him to sing to the fisher-folk of the village his immortal song, Porohi puate tulunga naote Rangman machaloi gol, which Dr Hazarika had written and rendered as a tribute to the fishing community.

He said he had found it a pleasure talking to him. “From his conversations, it became apparent that, rather than in Hindi films, he wanted to contribute towards the Assamese culture and go back to Assam. I was overwhelmed by his loyalty to the place of his birth and the responsibility that he had shown towards it. Since then, I lost touch with him, but heard from Balraj (Balraj Sahni) that he was happy being in Calcutta,” Abbas reminisced.

The noted Marathi playwright, Vijay Tendulkar was another Mumbai celebrity who regarded Dr Hazarika as one of the stalwarts of the downtrodden. Tendulkar’s house on Hanuman Mandir Road at Vile Parle in West Mumbai is – at least it was till the time he was alive - a veritable aviary where tiny birds of different breeds flew around at will and never flew out. He told me that he had been swayed by Dr Hazarika’s song Pratham nohoi, dwitiya nohoi, trititya shrenir yatri aami, which he had first heard when some Marathi students of the Pune University had sung it at one of the functions in Pune presided over by him.

Tendulkar also referred to Dr Hazarika’s anguish over the moral degeneration of the Indian society, particularly of the political class, expressed in the song Vistaar ye apaar, praja dono paar, O Ganga ki dhaar and to the simile of the river Ganga as the unutilised power of the people.

Incidentally, Tendulkar, who revolutionised Marathi theatre in the sixties, was all praise for Assam’s mobile theatres for popularising dramas among the masses without any support from the government and not succumbing to compromises to get institutional help, unlike in Maharashtra where, despite the state support, the theatre movement has not got a fillip because of factional fights among different drama groups. He once told me that he would have been happy to watch one of the performances of these mobile theatre companies of Assam. But he could not fulfil his wish, first, because of his pressing engagements in Mumbai, and secondly, because like the legendary actor from Bengal, Uttam Kumar, he had a phobia about travelling by air.

The revolutionary Urdu poet and an active IPTA member, Ali Sardar Jaffri was another celebrity who had high regards for Dr. Hazarika. He wanted to know what the “bold singer” was doing at the time I interviewed him for Screen soon after the 1993 serial bomb blasts that had ripped Mumbai. Though the topic for my interview was to know his reactions to the blasts, he being a Muslim celebrity from the city, but knowing that I was from Assam, he inquired about Dr. Hazarika, like Abbas had done earlier. He wished his bold songs were available in English or Hindi, so that he himself could translate them into Urdu.

Ever since Dr Hazarika started singing the translated versions of his songs in Hindi, the present generation of film and art lovers of Mumbai got a chance to get themselves acquainted with the quality of his songs and singing. His Dil hoom hoom kare from the film Rudali touched the heart of every listener of the song. The late income-tax commissioner-turned-film critic, Iqbal Masud, raved about Dr Hazarika’s rendition of it in print. So did the film historian Rafiq Bagadadi. Dr Hazarika’s collaboration with the lyricist-filmmaker Gulzar has paid handsome dividends in that Gulzar sahab’s creative translation of some of Dr Hazarika soulful songs brought those closer to the hearts of the non-Assamese and non-Bengali music lovers.

Let me narrate an incident here which is indicative of the fact that Dr Hazarika has fans in the most unlikely people in the film industry in Mumbai (Bollywood? Excuse me, please).

I was surprised when one day, I received a call from the comedian of Hindi films, Johny Lever, especially because he called me up to thank me for a write-up I had written in Screen on Balraj Sahni the previous week. It was actually a translation of an article Dr Hazarika had originally written in Assamese a long time ago. Johnybhai was impressed because the love and affection with which Dr Hazarika had recalled his friendship with the most humane of Hindi film actors, a performer who infused realism into his acting, first introduced in Hindi films by Motilal. Aisa dostana aaj kaal kaun nibhata hai? he said. It took me a little time to realise that Johnybhai was a sensitive soul, as all genuine comedians are. Since then, he has remained as one of Dr Hazarika’s growing number of fans in the tinsel city.

Bhupen Hazarika writes about Lummer Dai

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Nostalgia by Loknath Goswami

Source : Asomiya Pratidin , 7th June, 2009