Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Our very own Bhupenda

By Jutika Mahanta Kashyap ,

People who knew Dr.Bhupen Hazarika here in Bollywood are finding it difficult to express their feelings in one slot. On the other hand I consider it as my fortune to pen down this article as it gave me the opportunity to learn and record the kind of respect and affections that our very own Dr. Bhupen Hazarika could command here in Mumbai. This multifaceted legend did play many roles as a singer, composer, lyricist, musician, film director, academician, actor, writer and as chairperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi (1998-2003) who influenced all by some or the other way. His contribution to enrich the cultural stream of Assam, and of the rest of the country can’t be described in few pages. We must appreciate the fact that his journey to Bollywood opened the regional boundary of art for the benefit of music lovers of the entire country.

Farooq Sheikh who worked with Dr.Bhupen Hazarika in Ek Paal said: “Dr.Bhupen Hazarika was an extremely talented person who essentially held two spaces very comfortably, one as the most prominent face of entire Northeast and secondly as extra ordinarily talented multifaceted artist who composed, sang, directed, acted with highest degree of compassion. He was full of joy and we knew lot of people in common and attended various functions together. He never fell sort of energy for uplifting the society, not only for Indian society but he had a broad spectrum i.e. the world society. He was an exceptional personality who is going to be missed even more.

Dimple Kapadia, found time out of her tight schedule and conveyed her message over phone. She interacted with the music maestro closely during Rudaali. This is wahat she had to say, “Dr. Bhupen Hazarika was a remarkable man who was extremely gentle. He was very compassionate and holding a huge amount of talent within him. He was a lovely human being and his demise is a big loss to us. Along with him we have also lost his extra ordinary talent and his deep insight. In spite of being highly talented he was a very simple and humble human being.”

Similarly Raveena Tandon, the lead actress of Daman candidly showcases her respect and says, “Dr.Bhupen Hazarika was a father figure to me. I remember the moon light nights; where during the shooting of Daman we would all sit around a campfire and he would sing for us in the tea estates of Assam…that will etched in my memory forever.”

Ila Arun, singer-cum-actress who was a part of Chingari recalls the musician as beloved Dada who used to appreciate her singing. She says: “As I have been repeatedly telling it to all, the demise of Dada is a great loss to all of us, especially for the common people. His music was always special as it made difference in the life of common people. He innovated and reinvented Folk Music in India. His music carries the smell of the soil. On November 6 when I went to the hospital to pay my last tribute I was amazed to see the response. He was the folk singer whose lok sangeet turned him to Lok Nayak. He could bring changes to Assam and to the entire north-eastern region through his lok sangeet as he was the Loka Sangitagya of the world class. He was a complete man – he was a lyricist, composer, director ,actor, singer, musician, in short he was the reflection of an entire society. Whatever he wrote, he always depicted Assam, even though the social scenario kept on changing but he made it a point to record the transition through his creation. Bhupenda was a special man and the people of Assam treated him specially. I could see the mass gathered to pay their homage in different TVchannels and could realize even though he was living like an ordinary man in Mumbai, he was an extra ordinary man, a special man in his native State. He could command three generations to come forward. Personally I was close with Dada and Kalpana and I also acted in Chingari and he used to like me a lot. May his soul rest in peace forever. As token of respect I would love to follow his footsteps so that I can bring changes to common people’s life.”

Nadira Zaheer Babbar the renowned artist and a member of the advisory board of Sangeet Natak Academy, knew the legend very well. This is what she had to say about him. “Bhupenda was one of the most respected persons of our country. He was deeply rooted to the folk culture of Assam and he tried his level best to bring it to the world stage. I was highly influenced by his voice, singing and compositions. Most of his works are inspired by his state, the beauty of his mother land. His song Ganga is immensely popular among all strata of the society. I personally liked all songs of Rudaali composed by Bhupenda. Dr Hazarika was an ardent member of Progressive Movement of all art, literature which was founded by my father Syed Sajjad and was committed to art and culture. Dr. Bhupen Hazarika was the Chairperson of Sangeet Natak Academy where I was in the Advisory Board and I worked in close association with the legend.”

Says Moon Moon Sen, the beautiful actress of the yesteryears, “I did love to work with Bhupenda. He belonged to the friend circle of Arundhati Devi, Chhaya Devi, Debika Mukherjee and I was fortunate enough to be close to him. Specially during the film Deepar Prem which was about a girl who fallen in love with a guy from a lower family, where Bhupenda sang the song Ami ek jajabar, which was such a wonderful mixture of common man and intellectuality. Since then we became very close and did many functions in Assam together. I travelled a lot with him and during our journeys he used to share many stories. He was full of life and jovial. Even though he had a bad temper but he managed to remain calm and lively during his work. We travelled together in many parts of Assam and I thus I met many people who came to see him often. He was a brilliant artiste. Unfortunately India has not given him his dues. He did not receive the kind of recognition that he deserves.”

Sanjay Suri, who worked in Daman , said: “I had the pleasure to work with Dr. Bhupen Hazarika during Daman, and that’s the firstt time when I met him and Kalpana. I was a huge fan of him and in the evening safter the shoot we used to insist him to sing our favorite song Dil hoom hoom kare, and without any thought he used to sing it for us. He treated us like his own children. I remember one incident, while shooting for Daman, my bhabhi (sister-in-law) came to see me and we all were sitting in his drawing room and enjoying him sing. My bhabhi couldn’t stop her tears. I kept meeting him after that. He was an extremely warm person. We did another film together which is yet to release As The River Flows and we are extremely proud of the fact that Dr. Hazarika agreed to do the voice over for the same. I consider my Daman tenure as the luckiest as I got the chance to work with the legend.”

Raima Sen unfolds her heart, “I was very young when I first encounter the music maestro. I met him during Daman which was the second film of my career. We all went to Guwahati and spent lots of time together as it was long schedule. Even though I was very young at that time still I clearly remember how soft spoken he was! My mom (Moon Moon Sen) was closer to him as they did various stage shows together. Dr. Bhupen Hazarika was a thorough gentleman and after the shoot we used to joke together, laugh together.”

Pritam, the music director recalls those days when he worked along with the musician: “I have worked with Bhupenda and Kalpana Lajmi in Daman. Bhupenda was a real genius. When he was admitted in the hospital I tried meeting him thrice but unfortunately I could not meet the legend due to certain unavoidable reasons. Demise of Bhupenda is a great loss to the music world.”

Popular singer Shaan worked with Bhupen Hazarika in the early part of his career. He said over the phone, “I spent alot of time with Dr. Bhupen Hazarika during Daman in Guwahati and in the tea gardens of Assam. At that time I was very young. .He used to make us feel very comfortable. He never used to showcase his achievement: the position he held as legend. He was a magnificent personality and was compassionate about what was happening around. Personally it was wonderful to learn music from the master himself.”

Correspondingly, Mandhar Sabnis, vocalist-cum-composer considers himself very fortunate to get trained under the legend during Geet Gangotri – a national-level integration workshop where Dr Bhupen Hazarika took part as resource person along with many other eminent personalities like Jagjit Singh and Ila Arun. Similarly he also got the opportunity to meet the music maestro in Nehru Centre along with melody queen Lata Mangeshkar during the rehearsal for live concert. He fondly remembers his stage show with the legend in Imphal where people turned in thousands to see the musician. Also he did the fusion of Yara sili sili with Dr. Hazarika who often encouraged the young stars to come forward. Sabnis points out that in the national anthem, there are only three eminent voices who speaks for the country. They are: Pt.Bhimsen Joshi, ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh and our dearest Dr. Bhupen Hazarika.

Even though Madhur Bhandarkar never worked with Dr.Bhupen Hazarika but he managed to influence this young and talented director. “Bhupenda’s songs always inspired me, especially Ganga tu behti hai kyun… beautiful lyrics sung by in his deep baritone voice. May god rest his soul in peace. Personally I met him thrice and I remember how warmly he used to greet me. He was very warm and gentle human being,” confesses Madhur.

Director Onir opens up candidly, “I met Dr. Bhupen Hazarika for the first time during the initial stage of my career while doing the promo for the film Darmiyan. My association with the legends extends to Daman where I was a kind of assistant to him. Our association follows and we became very close .I did the music album Ganga which was designed and produced by me and my friend Namrata. This album remains distinct because he crafted it specially. It is an honor for me to attain his trust. Dr. Hazarika was a complete foody and we lunched together on many occasions. He was so warm to notice what we eat and the affection he used to impart I simply loved that person”.

Mumbai-based musician Abani Tanti had started his career with the legend himself. Tanti recalls emotionally, “I did my first recording as sound engineer with Dr.Bhupen Hazarika. I could still recollect the day, it was in November, 1987 and was my third day in Jyoti Chitraban. I recorded a poem voiced by him for a documentary made by Amar Jyoti Agarwala and coincidently I recorded him for the last time again for a poem voiced by the legend for Bidyut Kotoky’s As the River Flows in Geet Studio in February, 2011.”

It was for the film Gandhi to Hitler where Dr.Bhupen Hazarika sang Gandhiji’s popular bhajan Baishnaba janato…. with his baritone voice. While sharing his experience, Mumbai-based Assamese musician Lyton became emotional, “I used to call him barta and I consider it as our (Arbind-Lyton) sheer luck that we could make him sing the popular bhajan.” Lyton recalls the day when he and his friend Arbind met the legend in his residence and insisted him to sing for them, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika in spite of being weak simply smiled and agreed to their wish. “As we all knew barta was not keeping well but still he did overcome physical hurdles and completed the recording in Meet Brothers’ studio.,” said Lyton and added, “Dr. Hazarika was the gem of India. He was the encyclopedia of music. He was the university himself and he deserved the Bharat Ratna without any doubt.”

Bidyut Katoky who worked very closely with the legend in the yet-to-be released film As the River Flows, considers it as a dream come true for him. “During the recording of As the River Flows where the legend lent his baritone voice to a poem, he did look a little frail…but only till the time the microphone was put in front of him. Then suddenly, his age dropped by some 25 years…one by one, through his voice, the cry of Brahmaputra came alive…it was surreal! Inside the recording room, he was like a child recording for the first time… and again enquiring whether he is getting it right, whether we are getting the mood we wanted…Within that short span of time, we got a rare glimpse of what makes him a living legend,” said Katoky.

Truly the legend will always remain as a legend in the heart, mind, and soul of each and every music lover. May his soul rest in peace forever.