Sunday, August 29, 2010


“Give me a white man whose blood is white
Give me a Black man whose blood is black
You would get whatever you want
If you can give me in return”
(Jonab Fakir of Bangladesh)

The song reverberated from the voice of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika of Assam long before Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in America. Dr. Hazarika was a true disciple of the great Saint Sankardeva of Assam and was later influenced by the philosophy of the greatest cult singer Paul Robson of USA. He transcended the walls of his classroom at the University of Gauhati, India in fifties of the last century and took the high road to various corners of the world. He traveled the world from Arunachal to Chicago, from Ottawa to Austria. He spoke of Gorky while sitting at the grave of Mark Twain. He not only acquired degrees from Guwahati, Benares, and New York (Columbia University), but learnt from the streets of the world. Calling himself a gypsy, he moved from place to place not in search of a dream house but to spread the message of happiness of life to humanity. He always spread the message of universal fraternity, brotherhood, and emotional understanding.
I met Bhupen Dada, for the first time, in 1955 at Calcutta Movietone Studio. He was in Calcutta those days to score the music of “Piyali Phookan”, a film directed by another giant Phani sharma. I was brought to Calcutta by Lakshydhar Chowdhury to act in his film “Nimila Anka”. From that day onward I became a fan of Bhupenda and our association lasted till date.
To many people in India he is a great singer. To some people he is a wonderful film maker, to some he is an excellent lyricist. For some he was a dear and respected teacher. But to us he has been a cult figure who empowered our generation with his voice, deeds and writings. Whenever the country is in turmoil he has been there to raise his voice for the upliftment of the downtrodden. He is a humanist per excellence. The lyrics are his bullets and his voice is the machine gun. He has inspired several generations in India through his lyrics, songs, films and writings. Even in his late seventies, when his comrades in arms like Hemanta Kumar, Salil Chowdhury and Naushad sahib retired as musician, his “Dil Hum Hum Kare” took India by rage. Unknowingly people started humming the song from slums to palaces. His greatest weapon is his system of communication. He can communicate with everyone of every age and can persuade to his point of view at ease. The mother and the daughter, the father and the son are always competing with one other to have a share of Dr. Hazarika’s vocal tonic, companionship and friendship. He was an amazing personality. Dear to every one. Anuradha Sharma Pujari once wrote that Bhupen Da was not very happy of his statue erected at the southern fringe of Dighali Tank., Guwhati .He would have been happy if the statue could be remade,as told by Anuradha.
It was his eightieth birthday celebration at Guwahati in the year 2003. A lot of his admirers attended a function atop a steamer on the mighty river Brahmaputra. On that day my poem, especially written on Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, was published by Homen Borgohain in his daily newspaper Ajar Asom. The distinguished novelist, playwright and dramatist Arun Sharma called me and said that he wanted to recite the poem that evening. It was a matter of great pride to me that one giant was paying respect to the other all-time-great through the conduit of my poem. I told Arun Sharma that it would be an honor for me as well. After the poem was recited, Bhupen Da started his speech. As he completed his speech a few people went up to the dais to congratulate Dr. Hazarika. We were sitting in the audience that included Pradip Baruah of Prantik, Pulak Lahiri, Ishan Barua and many others. A young boy of around 12 years came to us and asked:
“Hello Koka, (Grandpa) can I be excused?”
“Yes my son, tell me what do you want?” quipped, Pradip Baruah.
“I want to get ahead a bit and…”, the child told
“And where do you want to get to?” Pradip asked.
“I want to meet “Bhupen Dada.”"
We were not surprised. Always Bhupen Hazarika had remained Dada. He has retained eternal youth. Even a child can communicate with him as Dada but we have become “grandfather”. Though biologically we were almost nineteen years younger! This is the charisma of Dr. Hazarika. .................
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

And now, a Hazarika museum set to come up at Kalakshetra

News Source : The Times of India , 12 Aug 2010
GUWAHATI: The maestro, his melody and now, a museum. The Srimanata Sankardev Kalakshetra (SSK) is all set to open a museum dedicated to the Dada Saheb Phalke award-winning singer, composer and filmmaker, Bhupen Hazarika. The octogenarian artiste may be ailing, but his young heart is keen to see this dream come true before his birthday on September 8. However, the completion of the project depends on how soon it receives the promised largesse from the Victoria Memorial authorities in Kolkata.

"This project is very close to our heart as Bhupen-da has contributed greatly in taking Assam's culture beyond the confines of its borders. He is very eager to see the museum inaugurated on September 8," said Chabin Rajkhowa, secretary, SSK.

Christened, Bhupen Hazarika Cultural Museum, it will be located on the premises of Kalakshetra. Victoria Memorial has agreed to provide financial (Rs 48 lakh) and technical support to SSK.

Rajkhowa explained, "They immediately agreed to pay the amount as a mark of respect to the great artist. They were supposed to sanction the funds in the last budget, but somehow, there has been a delay. We have sent a reminder. We are keen on setting up the museum as soon as possible and we have already collected a good number of objects and articles belonging to or associated with the legend as showpieces."

Nearly 3,600 display items, including songs, films, costumes, letters and awards of the maestro, are already in SSK's possession.

"We have even managed to get hold of Bhupen-da's songs on HMV's golden discs apart from mementoes collected by him from across the globe. Antique furniture associated with him and certificates have also been garnered," informed Rajkhowa.

The state already boasts of a small museum dedicated to artistes like Jyotiprasad Agarwala and Bishnu Rabha in Tezpur, but the Hazarika museum will be bigger.

Thursday, August 5, 2010