Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Assamese with a Nepali cap

Bhupen Hazarika, the voice that represented Assam, its people and its culture for over seven decades fell silent on Saturday. Millions in his home state are still mourning the eternal void created by his demise.

His death has also affected music lovers in neigbouring Nepal, a country whose people and culture, Hazarika loved dearly. The black Nepali cap which he wore for the past many decades and till his last breath is just one example of that close association.

“I wear the cap because I love its shape and also because I love Nepali people, their features and beauty,” he had mentioned in a television interview to an Assamese news channel. Hazarika said that though he had worn the trademark cap since early 70s, he doesn’t remember when exactly he started donning it.

“The black Nepali cap, which is his signature, he began wearing, he says, when his father died many years ago and someone in the neighbourhood gave him a topi to wear. The khukuri pin that adorns the topi is a gift from Hazarika’s friends and admirers in Nepal,” writes eminent writer Sanjoy Hazarika in a piece titled ‘Bard of the Brahmaputra’.

“Hazarika’s internationalism (or regionalism) goes further than his vocal chords as is evident when he talks of his special relationship with Nepalis. He was born in Tezpur, a town that has quite a significant number of them,” he adds further.

The association was not limited to the topi alone. Several of Hazarika’s songs have been translated to Nepali including the popular ‘Dola he dola’. While the original talks of a palanquin, in its Nepali avatar, the song (Doke he doke), translated by lyricist Hari Bhakta Katuwal, is about the bamboo basket carried on their backs by many in Nepal to transport belongings.

Hazarika also sang several duets with Anju Devi, a popular Nepali singer from Assam. Devi has adapted one of the maestro’s creations ‘Asom desor bagisare suwali’—I am girl from Assam’s tea gardens—to ‘Assam ki cheli hun ma Nepali’—I am a Nepali girl from Assam.

During a concert in Kathmandu two years ago, she enthralled the audience with immortal classics of Hazarika like ‘Buku hom hom kore’—the original Assamese version of ‘Dil hum hum kare’. No wonder every one among Assam’s 2.5 million Nepalis is feeling the loss of his passing away.

“The Nepali community of the state will never forget this legendary artiste who showed his sense of belonging to the community by wearing by wearing a black Nepali hat (topi) till his last breath,” says Madan Thapa, general secretary of Assam Nepali Sahitya Sabha is a press release mourning the legend’s death.

Newspapers in Kathmandu also carried news of Hazarika’s death prominently. But more than what appeared in print, it was humbling to meet many Nepalis in the past few days who love Hazarika, know his compositions and have been affected by his carefully-crafted words.

Bhupenda aru Gouripur

Source : Asomiya Pratidin , 27 Nov 2011

Rare Photograph - Bhupen Hazarika

Obituary by Zubeen Garg

Source : India Today , 15 Nobember ,2011


By Gautam Prasad Baroowah ,
“Music is the highest art, and to those who understand, is the highest worship”
Swami Vivekananda

The departure of Bhupenda created a void in the world of music, culture and human warmth. But greatest loss would be to the value for which he strived most, the human brother hood and for a field of integration (Somonoyer Khetra). His all lyric, stories, personal essays and even music were to achieve this purpose of emotional integration amongst the humanity of the world. He traveled and traversed from Ottawa to Columbia, Brahmaputra to Volga ,Sunghphoo to Padma with only one intent in mind. Unification of human mind .He lead the life of a gypsy but embraced the entire world as his family. . It is almost impossible to bind Hazarika’s personality to any dogma. He is free as a bird yet he would always like to live amidst the humanity like Wordsworth’s Cuckoo. It is not important where he lives now. But for whom he stands today? The answer is simply he wants to live for the wellbeing of humanity.
In strict sense of the term he was not a family man. He had no fixed relatives but had only relations with humanity. In his broader vision, he had neither wife, nor son; not even his brothers and sisters. They were his friends along with the timing millions who lived in this world. Once in my Kolkata home, during the planning session of poetry recording in 1977 we were discussing mundane things as always and I suddenly asked him …

: Bhupenda, don’t you feel the absence of a family now?
: Not really! My family extends to my friends like you and beyond… to the struggling people in the field and plants.
: You are kidding Bhupenda, I replied
: No, I am not. I am a restless man, you know. I resigned my jobs at the university and Radio for my soul need to remain unbound.
: What about your relations with your parent?
: I greatly love my Mom! I dreamt her often. But I have been a worthless son, a worthless husband, a bad father too. I even could not play with my son during his formative period.
: But you have been a loving brother, by you own admission!
: Even I could not take care of them fully except for initial education for sometime. I could not help my father during his retired life. He did so much to settle me down. Actually, I am not really destined for a planned and bgugdmd/lifikwtyle. I am a roving minstrel ….. And Bhupenda suddenly started reciting aloud…..
“I am a gipsy
I scour the ends of the earth
But wouldn’t look for a home
From Luit to the Mississippi
I marveled at the Volga
From Ottawa through Austria
I made Paris my own.”
(Moi ek jajabar)

Many of his friends knew that Bhupenda was a great in recitation. He used to recite poem of joytiprasad “ JUGANTORER MOI , KALANTORER MOI” with his husky voice to a great effect . He however had not recorded too many recitation of poetry, either of his own or of others. In 1976 when Gramophone Company of India had cut the first ever poetry recitation record of Assamese poets, Bhupenda’s natural choice was the poem composed by Joytiprasad Aggarwala. Other declaimers like Ishan Barua, Manjumla Das, Amarjooyti Chowdhury and Arunima Saikia, who also participated in the recording, were thrilled to hear his recitation. It was an unique experience for them and his way of recitation brought out goose pimples on them .No sooner he finished recording, unknowingly all of them, including the sound recordist Mallabuzar Barua, clapped in unison. The name of the record was “Saptarshi”. The record was produced by me and music was scored by Dr. Bhupen Hazarika. The record is not easily available now. But some of the Assamese families have kept that record as their prized passion. I recommend to every admirer to listen to the recitation of the poem by Bhupen Da. It would be a unique experience. In fact this recitation could be reproduced and rerecorded by any of his admirer for the posterity, before the last copy is lost in oblivion“
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)
This 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.


More than his life, he got tumultuous ovation on his death from common men of the street. People came from every walk of life to pay their homage to the soul of the man whom they loved from the core of their hearts. It was a unique scene. There were tremendous people on the street of Guwahati, at his residence, at judges field where his body was kept to enable his ardent admirers to pay respect and also during the cremation ceremony at Guwahati University campus. Altogether more than million persons physically paid homage to Bhupenda at Guwahati. I was in Los Angeles in 2009 and was witness to the human euphoria of mourning the death of Michel Jackson. I was in Kolkata when legendary Satayjit Ray died . There were seas of humanity in all these mourning. But love and affection for Bhupenda drew much bigger crowd at Guwahati. Approximately 1.5 million people came out to pay their last respect. It was a rare sight to find that many people kept on visiting the place of cremation even after a week. Incidentally, his first job was in the same campus. Here he wrote one of the finest songs of the century which was sung as chorus on the inaugural day of the university.
“The Banks of the Luit will brighten
Breaking the barrier of darkness
In Pragjoyotish flows
The fountains of light
Hundreds of light .
In a Depawali of wisdom
Will brighten the banks of Luit
The parchment will give us words
The siphung hope
And the Ranghar will open the doors
Society will embrace
Mighty humanity
And science will bring a tide.” (Jilekaba Luitore Par)

A cult figure to us:
I met Bhupen Dada, for the first time, in 1955 at Calcutta Movie tone 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. Like him I settled in Kolkata later in my life and we were neighbour when I started living at Thana House of Tollygung .
To many people in India he has been a great singer. To some people he was a wonderful film maker, to some he was 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. 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 each other to have a share of Dr. Hazarika vocal tonic, companionship and friendship. Always Bhupen Hazarika had remained a youth full persona : an eternal Dada. He has retained the eternal youthful vigor. Even a child can communicate with him as Dada but we have became “grandfather”. Often we marveled at how he managed his time. He was sought after by the communists in West Bengal, the Congress always wanted him and the BJP asked him to come to their side. But Bhupenda always remained with the mass. No freshman social was a resounding success in Bengal with his participation. In Calcutta all the employees associations of merchant offices wanted Dr. Hazarika in their cultural shows. On many occasions I was approached by the McLeod Russell cultural association to put a word to Bhupenda so that he can accept the invitation to their cultural bash. Bhupenda always obliged.

Once in 1975 Bhupenda and I had to share a room at Kaziranga Tourist lodge. I was on my way to visit Jorhat and stayed back at the tourist lodge. In the evening when I returned back from the inner sanctuary then Tourist officer came and met me. He told me that Bhupenda is on his way to Guwahati and had to stay for the night and there was no room. Would I min if he share the room for the night. I told him that it would be pleasure to spend the night together. That night was a great night for we talked many things of his life.
: Bhupenda, you have been activist of IPTA. Some says you are communist. Is it true? I asked
: I am a Marxist. I read Marx and Angel and that inspired my mind to elevate downtrodden.
: But you have been visiting Kamakhya temple too. Are you a religious person?
: Yes I am religious. My religion is service to humanity. I do not worship God with flowers. My flowers are my lyrics. I believe in Divinity. To me, Religion is the expression of divinity in human being. You know my music is my offerings to God. I have no personal God. I worship with music to empower downtrodden, he replied.
:Do you feel elevated when you sing.
: I feel greatly happy when I compose a poem, a lyric and when I sing
: I have already written that my songs harbour no destructive vision. it envisages an unprecedented peace.
His songs empowered us to raise our voice. We were motivated to fight back against corruption, terrorism and social degeneration and poverty. For last few years, Dr. Hazarika was mostly in Bombay in the loving care of Kalpana Lazmi and his Doctors.. He felt reassured there. But his mind always travels to Assam. Physically he feels sometime very weak but mentally as strong as steel. Bhupenda is as iconic to Assam as Rabindranath is to Bengal and Robert Burns is to Scotland, Tolstoy to Russian and Mark Twain to America. He is a phenomenon which arrives once in a blue moon in a society. To me his most outstanding song is: “Bimurta Nishate”…
“This my ethereal Night
Is a blue scarf
Woven of silence
In its folds
Tender breathing
And live warmth”.
This is the song Bhupen Da also loves most. He loves all his creations. But this song appeals to him the most.

He was 85 years young man when he died. None of his blood relations were present, except “Toto”(Sanjib Hazarika) his favourite nephew, near his death bed. He however was surrounded by his soul mates of life. From Kalpana to Anuradha, Pradip to Manjula beside Manisha Hazarika (his
Sister in law) Rajshri and Baba were also present. Anuradha gave the vivid account of the last moments of Maestros life in the hospital at Bombay. …..(sADIN)
“When I reached his room in the hospital his eyes were closed. Kalpana whispered to the semi conscious Bhupenda “, look Bhup who has come! It is Anuradha from Guwahati”. There was no response for a while. A moment later his eyes opened up for a moment and closed down again! Jayashri( Marthi friend of Kalpana) shouted “ look he responded. .His sixth sense must have realized some one nearer to him has come”…. I knew that these were only expression of optimism. In fact I turned stone seeing his conditions with three pipes entering into his throat and host of monitors recording his physiological data. Bhupenda who always hated gadgets, even cell phones, is now struggling with such artificial help!
On 5th November Dr. Sailendra Goyal came to examine him. We all were outside his room only pradip and Baba were inside the cabin along with the Doctor. His blood count seemed ok but platelets was falling down. --- Those were the most of agonizing moment. Maha Mritunjoy Slokas were played for his wellbeing. I asked Joyoshri, why not his own songs? Doctors came next day, examined and told to stop these songs. This is the time to play Hazarika’s own creation. He would understand that better. Doctors kept on examining him. We were out side the room but his body monitors were visible to us.
It is around 11.30 am Dr. Goyal visited his chamber. Examined him for twenty minutes.
He came out, aftr examinations and told Kalpana his blood pressure is falling rapidly. It will be difficult to stimulate him any more. You may loose him sooner or later. We all felt depressed. Monitors in front of us were fluctuating rapidly.
Whenever blood pressure came up we hoped for good news. We could realise he was fighting. He was a great fighter always. Kalpana started her prayers aloud…. Suddenly we saw on the monitor blood pressure and pulse rate were loosing grip. It was falling rapidly. The curves on the monitor reflected the depression and right in front of our eyes the moving graphs on monitors became straight lines.. …. He was no more”
The news of his departure was conveyed to me immediately by a friend of mine. Anuradha flew back next day from Bombay via Kolkata. She gave me the full description. My mind filled with emotion and nostalgia of yester years. I remembered his lyric “When I’ll have gone from this life”……
When I‘ll have gone from this life
Breaking all tie and bonds
I hope by my pyre I‘ll find
Your solicitude.
I do not want memorial services
Nor false eulogies
A drop of tear from you
And I’ll have had my due. (Moi Jetia ei jivnor)

Kalpana is misunderstood by most, but is admired by Bhupen Dada. She has been a friend philosopher and companion all combined together to Bhupenda. Bhupenda was her guide. Let us accept the reality. Despite opposition of a section of well wisher Bhupenda admires her relations with him. That is the truth and whole truth. Let us honour his feelings and emotion, if we love him.

Bhupenda had gone but his values would always remain alive with timing millions. Building up of a memorial edifice does not always make a person immortal. It is the love of people which make a person everlasting. The culture of “ Bhupendra Sangeet”, if taught to our children, would perhaps be able to keep Bhupenda alive in the heart of timing millions even after hundreds of years, like Rabindra Nath was kept alive not by government but by the effort of his admirers. That would be a real tribute to Bhupenda ;s Legacy who made world his home. Let every district of Assam have an institute of Bhupendra Culture. Can this work be taken up by AASU with concurrent grant from Government of Assam? If one Million mourners who came to pay respect contribute Rs 100/- a person organizers would be able to gather Rs 5crore with matching grant from Govern met and NRI from Assam a good amount will be available to start the work. Would someone take the lead? Otherwise posterity would say Assamese is a race of “Memoriall Service Attendees” only (in the language of Homen Borgohain Soradh Khowa Jati: Amar Asom of 12th November).

Aftermath of demise of Bhupenda the responsibility of our society has increased by manifold. We must protect whatever values he has built up over the years. Mostly all the mourners of the country have shown commendable discipline while his body was lay in estate .Only sad incident which marred the cremation ceremony was uncivilized behavior of one of the well-known artist who, perhaps was considered by some ,as successor to Bhupenda . There were large scale condemnations of such behavior. Our society must be vigilant that such incident does not occur again for that would be an act of disrespect to the great soul whom everyone considers as an icon of love and tranquility. While he was alive he declared…
“Let my songs be
A profound assurance
Against the pervading lack of trust.
Let my songs be
A hymn to truth
Against false imaginings “

গানগুলি, দিনগুলি

লিখেছেন: | ১৭ নভেম্বর ২০১১ |
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চলমান কৈশোর ও প্রথম যৌবনে সময়কে চিহ্নিত করে রাখার অভ্যাস থাকে না। যাঁদের থাকে, তাঁরা অন্য ভুবনের বাসিন্দে। কিন্তু কোন মোহময় জাদুতে গানই জীবনের ক্যালেন্ডার হয়ে ওঠে, সে-রহস্য আজও অনাবিষ্কৃত।
ভূপেন হাজারিকা তখন মারফি রেডিওর সঙ্গীত প্রতিযোগিতার বিচারক হন, তাঁর সঙ্গে সেই পঞ্চাশের দশকে-ষাটের দশকে বাংলা গানের তারকা শিল্পীদের ব্যক্তিগত বন্ধুত্ব আছে – এই সব সুরেলা তথ্য প্রচারিত ছিল। কিন্তু সব পেরিয়ে সামনে এসে দাঁড়িয়েছিল ১৯৫৭ সাল। সেই বছরেই পাঁচ-পাঁচটা হিট গানের সুরকার তিনি। বড়দের মুখে এবং রেকর্ডের গোলাকার পরিচয়পত্রে বারবার ভূপেন হাজারিকার নাম দেখতে হয়েছিল। এবং সেই গানগুলোর জনপ্রিয়তায় ১৯৫৭ সাল এক অলৌকিক মায়ায় পরের বহু বছরে প্রসারিত হয়ে গেল।
ততদিনে ভূপেন হাজারিকা আর শুধু আসামের নয়, কলকাতারও হয়ে গেছেন। তাঁর সুরের যে সব গান সেই সময়ে আলোড়ন ফেলেছিল, তা বাংলার শ্রোতারা আজও ভোলেননি। সাধারণ শ্রোতারা একটা গানের ক্ষেত্রে শুধু শিল্পীকেই মনে রাখেন। সহজ অভ্যাসে সেই বিশেষ গানটি গায়ক বা গায়িকার গান হিসেবেই পরিচিতি পায়। কেবলমাত্র বাড়তি কৌতূহলতাড়িত শ্রোতারা মুগ্ধ অন্বেষণে জেনে ফেলেন গীতিকার ও সুরকারের নাম। সুতরাং, শ্যমিল মিত্র ‘চৈতালি চাঁদ যাক যাক ডুবে যাক’ ও ‘সপ্তডিঙা মধুকর’ গাইলে একই সঙ্গে জেনে নিতে হয় গীতিকার পুলক বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায় ও সুরকার ভূপেন হাজারিকার নামও। হেমন্ত মুখোপাধ্যায়ের সঙ্গে যৌথভাবে যে-দুটি গান গেয়েছিলেন সুরকার ভূপেন হাজারিকা (‘ঘুম ঘুম মেঘ’। ‘আঁকাবাঁকা এ পথের’) একটা অন্যরকম বৈচিত্র সৃষ্টি করেছিল।
রসিক শ্রোতামাত্রেই জানেন গানের জগতে জনপ্রিয়তার উত্তাপ বৃদ্ধির ক্ষেত্রে তথাকথিত ‘হিট’ হওয়ার কোনও নির্দিষ্ট কৌশল নেই। কিন্তু একজন যথার্থ দক্ষ শিল্পীর গায়নভঙ্গিও সেক্ষেত্রে বাড়তি গুরুত্ব পেতে বাধ্য। ১৯৫৬-তে যখন লতা মঙ্গেশকর তাঁর প্রথম বাংলা বেসিক রেকর্ড (‘আকাশ প্রদীপ জ্বলে’ । ‘কত নিশি গেছে নিদহারা’ – কথা : পবিত্র মিত্র, সুর : সতীনাথ মুখোপাধ্যায়) একেবারে মুগ্ধ করে দিয়েছিলেন, সেই সময় লতাজিকে দিয়ে গাওয়ানোর জন্য একধরনের অনুচ্চারিত লড়াই শুরু হয়েছিল। অনেক বছর পরে এই প্রতিক্রিয়া জানার সুযোগ হয়েছিল, পরের বছর (অর্থাৎ সেই ১৯৫৭-তে) লতা মঙ্গেশকর যে-দুটি স্মরণীয় গান গেয়েছিলেন, তার সুরকার ছিলেন ভূপেন হাজারিকা (‘রঙিলা বাঁশিতে কে ডাকে’ । ‘মনে রেখো’)।
সার্থক সুরকারদের প্রায় বাধ্যতামূলকভাবে শিল্পীদের কণ্ঠস্বর ও মেজাজ সম্পর্কে সচেতন হতেই হয়। ভুপেন হাজারিকাও সেই প্রশ্নে কতদূর দক্ষ ছিলেন , তার স্থায়ী ও উজ্জ্বল প্রমাণ হয়ে থাকবে লতাজির গাওয়া গান দুটি। গানের কথা ও সুরের স্রষ্টারা কখনও কখনও ফসলমুখী সুসময়ের কথা বলেন। তা সেই পঞ্চাশের শেষ ও ষাটের শুরুর দিকে সুরকার ভূপেন হাজারিকারও বোধ হয় সেই সুমসময় এসেছিল। ১৯৫৯-এ সুবীর সেন গেয়েছিলেন ‘ওগো শকুন্তলা’ আর ‘ কালো মেঘে ডম্বরু’। দুটো গানই জনপ্রিয় হয়েছিল। একই কথা বলা যায় ছন্দসুন্দর ‘দাঁড় ছপ ছপ’ গানটি সম্পর্কে, শিল্পী ছিলেন শৈলেন মুখোপাধ্যায়।
সুরকার ভূপেনবাবুর পছন্দের গীতিকার ছিলেন তিনজন – পবিত্র মিত্র, পুলক বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায় ও শিবদাস বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়। এঁদের মধ্যে এইচ এম ভি-র পদস্থ কর্মী পবিত্র মিত্র গানের ভুবনে এতটাই নিবেদিতপ্রাণ ছিলেন যে, সেই সময়ের প্রায় সব শিল্পীই তাঁর উপস্থিতি এবং কাব্যময়, রুচিশীল গীতরচনা-কে বিশেষ মূল্য দিতেন। পুলক বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়ই সুরকার ভূপেন হাজারিকার জন্য সর্বাধিক সংখ্যক গান লিখেছিলেন। ওঁর মধ্যে সুরকারের প্রতি সহযোগিতার মনোভাব থাকা ছাড়া অন্য গুণের সমন্বয় ঘটেছিল। দিব্যি হারমোনিয়াম বাজাতে পারতেন, সুরের বন্দিশ ভালই বুঝতেন – এমন তথ্য জানিয়েছেন সুরকার-গীতিকার অভিজিৎ বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়। এবং ভিন্ন মেজাজের কিছু গান লিখে দিয়েছিলেন (‘এক খানা মেঘ ভেসে এল’ – শিল্পী : রুমা গুহঠাকুরতা। ‘ভাল করে তুমি চেয়ে দেখ’ – শিল্পী : লতা মঙ্গেশকর) এর মধ্যে ভালবেসে সুরকার নিজেও পরে রেকর্ড করেছিলেন সেই ‘এক খানা মেঘ’।
সেই ১৯৫৭-তেই পরিচালক অসিত সেনের ছবি ‘জীবনতৃষ্ণা’ মুক্তি পেয়েছিল। সুচিত্রা সেন-উত্তমকুমারের সিনেমা হওয়া সত্ত্বেও তখন ছবিটা দেখা হয়নি, দেখা ঘটেছিল চার-পাঁচ বছর পরে। কিন্তু গান শুনতে, আলোচনা করতে বারণ করেছে কে! ‘জীবনতৃষ্ণা’র সঙ্গীত-পরিচালক ভূপেন হাজারিকা এবং গীতিকার ছিলেন সুখ্যাত তিনজনই (শ্যামল গুপ্ত, গৌরীপ্রসন্ন মজুমদার ও পুলক বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়) ।
ততদিনে কফি হাউস ও নিত্যদিনে এক-দেড় গন্ডা রাজা-উজির-মন্ত্রী ইত্যাদিকে মেরে ফেলার অভ্যাস তৈরি হয়ে গেছে। যেমন হয়, বয়সোচিত বীরত্ব। জানা হয়ে গেছে ভারতীয় সিনেমার নায়ক-নায়িকারা স্বভাবজ প্রতিভায় প্রায় অলৌকিক ক্ষমতার অধিকারী। লম্ফঝম্ফ, দৌড় বা গাছের ডালে ঝুলন্ত অবস্থাতেও তাঁরা রাগাশ্রয়ী গানও গাইতে পারেন। সেই ‘জীবনতৃষ্ণা’ ছবিতে দেখা গেল নায়ক উত্তমকুমার সিঁড়ি দিয়ে তরতর করে নামার সময় গাইছেন – ‘সাগর সঙ্গমে সাঁতার কেটেছি কত’। কণ্ঠস্বর ভূপেন হাজারিকার। উত্তমকুমারের মুখে হেমন্ত মুখোপাধ্যায় ছাড়া অন্য কেউ – এই বিপ্লব তখন অকল্পনীয় ছিল। কিন্তু যা সেই রাজা-উজিরদের হত্যাকারীদের মধ্যে আলোড়ন ফেলেছিল, সেটা একটা শব্দ – ‘তথাপি’। পুলক বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়ের লেখা গানটির তৃতীয় লাইনটায় (‘তথাপি মনের মাঝে প্রশান্ত সাগরের উর্মিমালা অশান্ত’) রাখা তথাপি লেখা হবে ১৯৫৭-তেও? কিন্তু মজার কথা হচ্ছে সুরের জন্য সেই গানটিও জনপ্রিয় হয়েছিল।
শুধুই আসামের লোকসঙ্গীত নয়, সুরের বৈচিত্রের পথে হেঁটেছিলেন সুরকার ভূপেন হাজারিকা। গেয়েছেন নানা ধরনের গানও মানুষের জন্য, মানুষের জীবনসংগ্রাম নিয়েও বিস্তর গানে সুর দিয়েছেন এবং গেয়েছেন। বাদ নেই লোকসঙ্গীতের কথায় ও সুরে প্রেমের গানও (‘দাঁতে কাইটোনা ঠোঁট আর’ । ‘এবার দিব দালান কোঠা’)। গেয়েছেন ‘ও মালিক সারাজীবন কাঁদালে যখন’ (গৌরীপ্রসন্ন। সুপর্নকান্তি ঘোষ), ‘একটি কুঁড়ি দুটি পাতা’, হরিপদ কেরানি’র মতন গানও। পল রোবসন-এর বাংলা অনুবাদের গান ‘মোরা যাত্রী একই তরণীর’, পাশেই আছে ‘তোমরা গেইলে কি আসিবেন মোর’।
কিন্তু সব পেরিয়ে স্মৃতিতে বাজবে সেই সব গান যা সুরের মহিমা, শিল্পীর কণ্ঠমাধুর্য ও গায়কীতে নিজস্ব আবেদনে বেজে থাকে। প্রতিমা বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়ের গাওয়া – ‘তোমায় কেন লাগছে চেনা’ (পুলক বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়) গানে যে প্রেমস্নিগ্ধ প্রশ্ন, তার কি কোনও উত্তর হয়! ভুপেন হাজারিকার সুরও যেন চিরকাল খুঁজে বেড়াবে প্রথম দেখার মুহূর্ত, শিপ্রা নদীর তীরে বা নাগরিক পথের ভিড়ে অথবা স্মৃতিমেদুর রঙিন কল্পনায়!
লিখেছেন : অলক চট্টোপাধ্যায়
ছাপা হয়েছে : আজকাল | কলকাতা | ২৬ কার্তিক | রবিবার | ১৩ নভেম্বর ২০১১

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Life Extraordinaire

By S Mitra Kalita , Source : The Assam Tribune , 15 November 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

AIR saves maestro’s works

The Telegraph , 16 Nov , 2011

Guwahati, Nov. 15: The All India Radio Archives, the treasure house of precious recordings, has preserved songs, interviews and compositions of Bhupen Hazarika.

“We have 50 hours of recording of Bhupen Hazarika that has been preserved in the All India Radio Archives. His recordings have been collected from various stations of the All India Radio such as Guwahati, Calcutta, among others,” said Alka Pathak, additional director general of AIR, Delhi.

AIR has the largest library of Indian music.

“He made remarkable contribution in the field of culture and it was very essential to preserve his works. We have collected his original recordings in the magnetic tapes, which has been digitalised to preserve it in a better way,” she added.

“This is one of our precious recordings that have been preserved and we have not finalised anything regarding its release for commercial purpose,” she said.

AIR has already released work of some other artistes for sale, Pathak said.

“What we will do with Bhupen Hazarika’s work is something we haven’t decided yet. The good thing though is that the quality of the material that we have archived is good,” she said.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bhupen Hazarika'r Kabita

Source : Sadin Online ,11 Nov 2011

Photograph : With Jayanta Hazarika

'His soothing voice was like a hug'

Bappi Lahiri, Hindustan Times ,November 05, 2011

Bhupen kakababu’s death has left me orphaned. He was one of my father’s closest friends. And I looked up to him as my father figure. I’m sure there must be a zillion followers of his music around the world who must be feeling this pain. He may not have been a fatherly person for everyone personally, but his soothing voice magically threw out stress, pain, anxiety and anger out of one’s body and mind instantly, just like a warm hug from our parents.

I met him around six months ago. And at that point, I didn’t know that this was my last meeting with him. He didn’t seem very unwell at that point but at his age, health is one of the most unpredictable aspects of life. And then I heard that he was hospitalised and was critically ill.

I kept tabs on his health. I was constantly in touch with Kalpana Lajmi, who has been a companion for him for several years now. Once, she even told me that he was responding well to the medicines and was on his way to recovery.

But suddenly, his health began to deteriorate again and this time, he succumbed. I spoke to Kalpana soon after he went. She was inconsolable then. I still have to pay my condolence to the Hazarika family in Guwahati.

My first memory of meeting Bhupenkaka is at my Calcutta residence. I was four years old then. My father Aparesh was a composer, and kaka would often come home to meet him. They would chat for long hours, play their compositions for each other and laugh on myriad topics.

He’s sung so many hit Bengali numbers for my father. One of them was 'Oh Kajol Kajol'. Kaka sounded divine, not only in that song but in every song he recorded.

He’s probably the only musical genius I know who took up the cause of near-extinct forms of folk music. He introduced not only me, but the world to Bihu music and several other lesser-known forms like that.

He gave Assamese-Bangladeshi performing art a platform that it needed for survival. He never shied away from collaborating with younger artistes and musicians, especially if they belonged to the east and Northeast India because these parts he felt were thoroughly neglected.

Today, more than anyone else, and any part of India, it’s Northeast and eastern India that’s mourning his demise because they have lost their face, their voice in the mainstream.

As told to Rachana Dubey

Of Bhupen Hazarika and the sea of humanity

by Khushwant Singh , The Hindustan Times , 20 Nov , 2011

Once Bhupen Hazarika picked me up from Delhi when I was editing the Hindustan Times and flew me to his home town for his annual bash at Siliguri. On the way and over drinks in the evening he told me about his past and present life. His first marriage did not last long. His second one made him a

happy husband and father. He was known as a one-song-man: his hymn to the Ganga had made him a national celebrity.

As a matter of fact he had many more songs to his credit and was involved in nation-wide artistic activities which were acclaimed. We reached our destination late in the afternoon and spent the evening drinking together.

Next afternoon I noticed people gathering in large numbers on the road outside. The car in front had no hood that Bhupen could acknowledge greetings of his admirers.

I was put in the car following. As we proceeded, people in their thousands crammed the road and on top of their houses to greet him till we reached a vast maidan. It was a sea of humans as far as I,could see: not in thousands but well over half a million. I was alarmed as a trifling incident could have created a stampede costing many lives.

I was escorted to the dais: It was a sea of humanity, the like of which I had never seen before in my life. I sat on the dais listening to speeches, paid a two-minute tribute to Bhupen and slipped away from the rear. It was an empty town. A Muslim officer of the IAS posted as commissioner of the district had been instructed to look after me. I had my evening drink and dinner with his family. The next morning I flew back to Delhi. I thank Bhupen for familiarising me with the expression - sea of humanity.

Asom Sahitya Sabha - 6thFeb 1993 , Khushwant Singh releasing english version of a Bhupen hazarika’s Book

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shradhanjali by Ratna Ojah

Source : Sadin Online , 11 Nov 2011

Tribute : Bard Of Brahmaputra

Hazarika’s genius manifested itself in its empathy and a vision for a better future
Utpal Borpujari on Bhupen Hazarika, , 21 Nov 2011

It is said that in Assam, there is every likelihood that among the first sounds a newborn hears would be a Bhupen Hazarika song. I first met the legend when I was around ten, but much before that I knew him as a near god-like figure. His unique, deep baritone voice and his easy-on-the-ear compositions, which quite often culled out finer nuances of classical ragas and the huge variety of folk music of the Northeast, were already deeply ingrained in my subconscious. It was much later that his songs—the meaning of his words and the mood they evoked—acquired deeper meaning and significance for me.

In the late ’70s, we knew him from his photographs in newspapers and magazines, each with the trademark Nepali cap on his head—reportedly a present from the king of Nepal. And of course, from his voice that almost every single day wafted in from the local All India Radio station. So, there was no scope for confusion when I saw him the first time, sitting in the living room of our neighbour Nirode Chaudhury, one of the greatest Assamese writers whose short story had a couple of years before been turned into the classic Assamese film Chameli Memsab (which, incidentally, also got Hazarika the best music director’s honour at the National Film Awards in 1975).

When Chaudhury, whom I used to fondly call ‘mama’, introduced me to Hazarika, he turned and started talking to me and it went on for quite some time. Later, I realised that he was not just being gracious to a kid. That was just the way he was. He would have time for every person who would approach him. And this trait never changed even when his health began deteriorating after a stroke he suffered during the Rongali Bihu (Assamese new year) celebrations in Guwahati in 2006. His natural instinct for making everyone feel at home, combined with his innate capacity to document society through his creative work, made him connect instantly, both with intellectuals as well as the illiterate.

Hazarika’s genius was not only in being a composer-lyricist-singer-filmmaker but also a journalist-author-painter-politician (having served one term in the Assam assembly as an independent legislator in the late 1960s and making a failed bid as a BJP candidate in the Lok Sabha elections much later).

With his left-leaning idealism (something that started changing after the Chinese aggression in 1962), which saw him become a close associate of the likes of Salil Chowdhury, Balraj Sahni and many others in the Indian People’s Theatre Association, Hazarika used his art as a medium to reflect society’s ills and the concerns of the downtrodden. It was almost with a missionary zeal that he wrote songs capturing almost every important social and political development of Northeast India, from the Second World War to the years of ULFA insurgency. Hazarika was encouraged to write as a child by cultural icon Jyotiprasad Agarwalla. He wrote his first song as a seven-year old, its deeply earnest lyrics yearning for the rebirth of the 15th century social reformer Saint Srimanta Sankardev to cure society of its ills.

A born humanist, Hazarika’s iconic songs have been about the loss of innocence in mankind. Through songs like Bistirna Parore (later translated into Bengali and Hindi as Ganga Boicho Keno/Ganga Behti Ho Kyon), in which he remonstrated against his beloved Brahmaputra for flowing silently despite all the inhumanity along its banks, or Manuhe Manuhor Baabe, which spoke about the need for compassion. Hazarika espoused universal brotherhood all his life, much like his friend and inspiration, American civil rights activist and singer Paul Robeson.

Even in his films, one sees the same message. In Era Bator Sur (Song of the Deserted Path), he told the story of vanishing folk cultures, while in Chikmik Bijuli (The Lightning), he looked at the transformation of Guwahati from a small town to a big city.

In later years he was deeply concerned about the atmosphere of social unrest in Assam. He told me more than once that he wished people would understand and use the “power of the gaan” (songs) than the “power of the gun” to resolve problems. In fact, one of his unfulfilled dreams was to make a feature film on the urgency to forsake violence.

(The writer is a film critic from Assam, based in New Delhi)

Bhupen Da an incredible voice: Onir

Sunday, November 06, 2011,
New Delhi: Director Onir, who started his film career with Bhupen Hazarika, says he will always remember the late singer-composer for his incredible voice.
"Very sad to hear about the demise of Bhupenda. I started my career in the Hindi film industry by working in `Daman` with Kalpana Lajmi and Bhupenda.

"Remember Bhupenda for his warmth and love and the incredible voice and melody. (I) Will remember him with love," Onir posted on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Directed by Kalpana Lajmi, "Daman" was released in 2001 and saw actress Raveena Tandon winning the best actress national award for her role as Durga Saikia.

Hazarika, who died of multiple organ failure, had composed the music for the movie.

"Worked with BhupenDa for the music of `Daman` and his music album `Ganga`. Remember our love for good food and the lunches and dinners we had together," he further posted.

Known for his haunting, resounding melodies like "Dil hoom hoom kare" and "Ganga behti ho kyon", Hazarika, who was on the ventilator for four months and had been in and out of hospital, passed away saturday at the Kokilaben Hospital.

He was 85.

Face of Northeast,innocent like child

By Javed Akhtar , The Asian Age, Nov 05, 2011

I have had the good fortune of working with Bhupen Hazarika in two films. And it was remarkable working with a person like him. A warm hearted person, he was always high on life. His chutzpah and enthusiasm to create something all the time made him stand out in an industry, where criticism and negativity is tremendous. He managed to maintain a child-like quality in him, which was rare and it spoke of his innocence and passion in life.

There is no doubt that he was truly an outstanding music composer and singer. But what separated him from the rest was the fact that he was the face of the Northeast to the other parts of India. He brought the traditional folk music from the Northeast with such energy and gave another dimension to music being created in the industry then. The possibilities of having that genre of music incorporated in mainstream Bollywood music were just getting enormous and Hazarika was the man to be credited.

You know, in our country many feel that after they turn 21, it is time to get to the real world after college and stop formal education. Here was a man who never went by the tried and tested policies. He truly looked for what he wanted and carved his path. He always said that he hasn't stopped learning formally or informally. He completed his Ph.D. much later in life and looked for various innovative ways within music was quite heartening.

I fondly remember this one incident when we were working on the film Darmiyan, which was directed by Kalpana Lajmi. During a sitting to compose the music, he quickly composed a song, which was all gibberish. There was no mukhada or no antara and yet he managed to compose. It was quite something as something like that doesn't happen. Every time we met, he reminded me of that day and we would have a hearty laugh. As a person he was a poet, intellect, philosopher, composer and an extremely warm person. He would be missed as such people don't come in our lives everyday.
As told to Ipsitaa Panigrahi

Thursday, November 24, 2011

চলে যাওয়া মানে প্রস্থান নয়, ভুপেন থাকবেন দুটি পাতা একটি কুঁড়িতে কিংবা থমথমে মেঘে

 06 Nov 2011 ,
আমাদের ছেড়ে চলে গেলেন ভুপেন হাজারিকা। মনে আছে সেই ছোট্ট বেলা থেকে তার মানবতাবাদী গানগুলো শুনে কতই না উদ্দিপ্ত হতাম! সকলেই তার গানের সার্বজনীন আবেদনের জন্য তার ভক্ত। সেই কথা আর সুর যার প্রায় সবই ভুপেনের নিজে করা!

আমার একটি প্রস্তাব থাকলো। যারা ভুপেনের গুনমুগ্ধ তারা তার মৃত্যু উপলক্ষ্যে আগামী অন্তত ৩ দিন ভুপেনের ছবি প্রোপিক হিসেবে সামু কিংবা আপনার ফেসবুকে ধারণ করুন।

যারা খবরটি মিস করেছেন তাদের জন্যঃ
উপমহাদেশের প্রখ্যাত সংগীত শিল্পী ভূপেন হাজারিকা আর নেই৷ দীর্ঘদিন ধরে শ্বাসকষ্ট ও কিডনি রোগে ভুগছিলেন তিনি৷ মানুষ মানুষের জন্য, বিস্তীর্ণ দুপারে, আমি এক যাযাবর, সাগর সঙ্গমেসহ বেশ কিছু জনপ্রিয় গানের স্রষ্টা তিনি৷

জয় জয় নবজাত বাংলাদেশ,

জয় জয় মুক্তিবাহিনী

ভারতীয় সৈন্যের সাথে রচিলে

মৈত্রীর কাহিনী৷

বাংলাদেশের স্বাধীনতা সংগ্রাম নিয়ে এই গানটি গেয়েছিলেন ভূপেন হাজারিকা৷ ভারতবর্ষের প্রখ্যাত সংগীত শিল্পী ভূপেন শনিবার বিকেলে ভারতের মুম্বইয়ে শেষ নিঃশ্বাস ত্যাগ করেন৷ মৃত্যুকালে তাঁর বয়স হয়েছিল ৮৬ বছর৷ গত কয়েকমাস ধরেই নানাবিধ শারীরিক জটিলতায় ভুগছিলেন তিনি৷ দুটি কিডনিই বিকল হয়ে যাওয়ায় মৃত্যুর আগে চার দিন ধরে ডায়ালাইসিস চলে তাঁর৷ কিন্তু শেষ অবধি আর ধকল সইতে পারলেন না এই কিংবদন্তি কণ্ঠশিল্পী৷

জন্ম আসামে

১৯২৬ সালে ভারতের আসামে জন্মগ্রহণ করেন ভূপেন৷ মাত্র ১২ বছর বয়সেই তাঁর গান স্বীকৃতি পায়৷ তখন অসমীয়া ভাষায় নির্মিত একটি চলচ্চিত্রের জন্য গেয়েছিলেন তিনি৷ পরবর্তীতে বাংলা এবং হিন্দি ভাষায় সংগীত পরিবেশন করে উপমহাদেশে নিজের আসন পোক্ত করেন তিনি৷ ভারতীয় চলচ্চিত্র ও সংগীতে অবদানের স্বীকৃতি হিসেবে ১৯৭৭ সালে ভারত সরকারের পদ্মশ্রী ও ২০০১ সালে পদ্মভূষণ খেতাব জয় করেন ভূপেন৷

যাযাবর ভূপেন

ভূপেন হাজারিকা একাধারে ছিলেন গায়ক, কবি, সাংবাদিক, অভিনেতা, চলচ্চিত্র নির্মাতা ও লেখক৷ নিজেকে তিনি ‘যাযাবর' ঘোষণা করেছিলেন৷ ১৯৪৬ সালে তিনি বেনারস হিন্দু বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় থেকে রাষ্ট্রবিজ্ঞানে স্নাতকোত্তর ডিগ্রি অর্জন করেন৷ এরপর ১৯৫২ সালে যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের কলাম্বিয়া বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় থেকে পিএইচডি ডিগ্রি অর্জন করেন এই শিল্পী৷

অসমীয়া থেকে বাংলায় অনূদিত

মানুষ মানুষের জন্য, বিস্তীর্ণ দুপারে, আমি এক যাযাবর, সাগর সঙ্গমে, প্রতিধ্বনি শুনি, দোলা হে দোলাসহ অসংখ্য জনপ্রিয় গানের কারিগর এই শিল্পী৷ বাংলাভাষীদের কাছে ভূপেন প্রবাদতুল্য জনপ্রিয়তা অর্জনে সক্ষম হন৷ তাঁর দরাজ কণ্ঠে গাওয়া গানগুলো সব প্রজন্মের মানুষের হৃদয়ে জায়গা করে নিয়েছে৷ ভূপেন এর অনেক গান অবশ্য মূল অসমীয়া থেকে বাংলায় অনূদিত৷ এই শিল্পীর অধিকাংশ গানই এখন ইউটিউব থেকে শোনা সম্ভব৷

শেষ জীবনে ভারতের হিন্দুত্ববাদী রাজনৈতিক দল বিজেপিতে যোগদান করেন ভূপেন হাজারিকা৷ রাজনীতির মাঠে অবশ্য খানিকটা বিতর্কেও জড়িয়ে পড়েন তিনি৷ তাঁর মৃত্যুতে গভীর শোক প্রকাশ করেছেন বিজেপি সভাপতি নীতিন গাডকড়ি৷

প্রতিবেদন: আরাফাতুল ইসলাম

সম্পাদনা: হোসাইন আব্দুল হাই

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bhupen Hazarika: His message lives on - By Sanjoy Hazarika

In every household in Assam, a lamp has burned these past few days to honour the greatest figure that most people of this beautiful but blighted state, locked away in India's eastern borderland by distance, lack of growth and conflicts, have known in perhaps hundreds of years. Why just in Assam? Across India, South Asia and the world, many who are Assamese and many others who are not, have done the same and sung, wept and prayed out of shradha for Dr. Bhupen Hazarika., whose lyrics keep running around in our heads, on radio stations and television channels. I am one of them and although I did not know him as well as those who were close to him, there are many memories of the man I called "khura" or uncle.

But before we get into reminiscences, I wish to say something about the extraordinary outpouring of spontaneous love and affection for this man whom we called the Bard of the Brahmaputra and the Living Legend. For many Assamese, he was a creative genius with his extraordinary songs proclaiming the rights of people, of brotherhood in that rich, velvety baritone which would reach into your innermost recesses, sending shivers down your spine and getting the hair on your arms to stand.

Millions of people, young and old, the rich and the poor, the fit and the fat, the infirm and the healthy, stood in line patiently for hours through the day and night to pay homage. Many wept but many more were singing his songs of humanity and equality, his political signature tunes, which have become part of our folklore and history. They came not just from every corner and isolated village of Assam but from towns and hamlets across the north-east and further. Songs were played through day and night over public address systems on every street of Guwahati from the time of his death.

It was as he had sung, in his unforgettable Sagar Sangame or "At the Confluence of Seas," where he had never tired of swimming. I was unable to go personally but a senior office staff member, who waited and walked for over two hours to reach Bhupen Hazarika's sealed coffin at 1am to pay his last respects, wrote the following to me: "People in the queue came from different NE states, districts of Assam and from areas around Guwahati. Most of the people were heard singing "Bhupendra Sangeet." A group near me who had come from Dhubri, which included elderly persons and the young, was singing with such melody all through, especially one person who was over 60 years in the group. Some young boys were shouting "Bhupenda Amar ho!" The Dighalipukhuri park (Shanti Udyan) where Dr. Hazarika's statue is located had live concert of (his) songs sung by different artistes young and old throughout, starting from morning till the time when I was returning home."

As a 21-gun salute was offered by the Assam Police, doctors and forensic experts took his foot impressions for posterity. I do not know if these footprints will now be carried around the Assamese and north-eastern countryside for more to pay their respects and homage but I worry about a cult-like situation developing about this man whose political message was equality, who loved simple home cooked food and the company of friends to have addas, create his compositions (sometimes on the back of an envelope or a scrap of paper) and express his concern and love for his own people, although for decades he lived in Calcutta and Mumbai, cities which, in his middle and later years, gave him both dignity and financial stability.

To millions he was simply "Bhupen da," including those of the younger generation who have never seen him barring on television nor heard him live -- but on CDs and DVDs. I was privileged to call him "khura," partly because of his closeness in the 1960s to my parents, the late Chaitanya Nath Hazarika and Maya Hazarika of Shillong, and their mutual respect and affection. One of my mother's fondest memories is singing with him (and she was a trained, fine singer) at All India Radio in Guwahati which used to be the great Mecca of music and aspiring stars in the days when television had not seized us with its ugly embrace.

Some years back, I was especially privileged to work with him and Kalpana Lajmi, his companion of many years and partner in many creative ventures, who took care of him with fierce affection, in a documentary series for Doordarshan on the north-east. My collaboration began when the great man called and asked me to help. Could anyone say no to him? He was quick to put me at ease, listening to my ideas with close attention, and used them extensively as I proposed the script and discussed concepts. It was a lesson in humility.

His haunting melodies torment yet inspire us. They fly across the world, on our mobile ring tones, in our personal collections, our memories and experiences.

Many of us called him the Bard of the Brahmaputra. But he was more than that -- he was a passionate fighter for rights, for the poor (notice how both his early and also the later songs drive home the messages of equality, humanity and brotherhood even in times of pain and tragedy) and who believed in the importance of means over ends. But he was also an incorrigible optimist and even a prankster, with an impish sense of humour. That was as much part of him as his ability to give love and his creative abilities.

Elsewhere, I have said that Bhupen Hazarika wove the virtues and capacities of several centuries and a handful of truly great Assamese into his life and his compositions as the currents of the Brahmaputra carried the values and traditions of the Vaishnav reformer Srimanta Sankardeva of the 15th and 16th centuries; the valour and call to arms of Lachit Barpkukan, general of the 17th century when Assam defeated a mighty Mughal invasion; the richness of prose and composition of Lakhinath Bezbaruah; the humanity and creativity of Jyoti Prasad Aggarwalla and Bibhnu Rabha; and then the political steadfastness and courage of Gopinath Bardoloi, Assam's premier of the 1940s, who stood alone with Gandhi against his own Congress party and the Muslim League, refusing Assam to be absorbed into Bengal and thus into East Pakistan.

The Bard of the Brahmaputra may be silent but the river flows on. It may be centuries before it finds another. But till then, it will flow and so will his music. His ballads will sustain the river, his true muse, and all of us, for without the Brahmaputra, there can be no Assam or north-east or lands beyond our borders.

The writer is a Journalist, Author, Researcher, Documentary Film-Maker and Field Worker. He is founder and Managing Trustee of the Center for North East Studies and Policy Research which works extensively in Assam along the Brahmaputra ( and is Saifuddin Kitchlew Chair and Director of the Centre for North East Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The last piece of work

Source : Sadin , 11 Nov 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

The bard will flow with the river

Written by Rahul Devrani , The Pioneer , 06 Nov 2011

Bhupen Hazarika (1926-2011)

Filmmaker Jahnu Barua pays tribute to legendary genius Bhupen Hazarika — who breathed his last in a Mumbai hospital on Saturday — and explains his lasting legacy in the national consciousness .

Bhupen Hazarika was our modern balladeer who kept the faith. That is why he revelled in befriending the man on the street in Moi eti jajabor, an ode to the gypsy wanderer for whom the world is a home.

That’s why he wondered at the eternal flow of the Ganga in a corrupt, sullied world, exhorting it to rescue mankind and help set it on course (Oh Ganga behti ho kyun?). It is the primal appeal of these words that made him a household name in the rest of India and inspired generations of not only Assamese but the country’s youth. A poet, journalist, singer, lyricist, musician, filmmaker and writer, he connected with everybody much before communication skills became a discipline that needed to be taught and acquired.

I respect and know him as second to none. He was my inspiration and the god of music. He composed five songs for my first film Aparoopa and back then I realised that he was also a teacher in his own way. He used to encourage me every time frustration crept in during the making of the film. With time I started looking at him as Dronacharya. He used to guide me saying there was no reason to be frustrated or disappointed. He would just say, “If you want to do something but are confused and unsure about it, don’t worry and give it a try. Only then can you know the impact. The world is not going to stop if you made one mistake. Move on, and prepare for the challenges ahead.”

For people like me he was a leader and will remain one. He was a trend-setter, the flag-bearer for people like us. It is because of him that we could convey our creativity to the entire country. His music is a symbol of creative progress, he acquired the much deserved recognition.

He was a temperamental person though. He used to get angry sometimes when things weren’t done properly. But that was only for the common good. Basically, he hated complacency and inactiveness. I remember on one occasion I was reluctant to use one of the songs he had composed for the film. He just replied in a sentence, “When you have not even used the song, how can you determine its success or failure?” He did not talk to me the entire afternoon and called me later in the evening. He asked me, what I didn’t like about his composition. I said the song didn’t come across too well. He then sang another one which he had made in such a short while and it was fantastic.

This incident became a turning point for me. While I made more films in future, his words were imprinted in my mind, that without trying one cannot predict the impact. The words reminded me that being experimental and incorporating fresh ideas is not only good “commercially” but gives an immense self-satisfaction. Your identity takes a deeper meaning somehow.

Besides, he was a rare musician. I don’t have a particular favourite song of his. He believed that “music is for people, not just for oneself.” Sample any of his songs and you will see that they are a creation of a lot of inspiring words. From a labourer to a poet to a businessman, everyone can identify with his songs. For example in his song Shitore sheroeka rati, which was also sung in Bengali, he talks of a worker struggling to sleep on a winter night. This makes the worker angry and that anger is burning inside him. Every worker who listens to this song can feel the pain and agony like his own.

His voice was timeless. Its texture could gel with the sound of an instrument like the sarangi for Hindi film music or go with the raw element in the sound of the harmonium for a Bihu song. Hazarika was one of the few performers of his generation who could sing comfortably inside a recording studio or in the open. The range of his voice was remarkable, deep and vast. It could transform and define any emotion owing to his easy approach to octaves, low and high. It was for this quality his song Ganga behti ho kyun became so popular. With his singing he could paint a picture of the playful nayika in Gaja Gamini and express the agony of a professional mourner in Rudaali most profoundly.

I am immensely saddened that he is no more with us but I am sure he would continue to inspire the younger generation and the ones to come. He’s left a tremendous spark of good music behind him and we need to cultivate that.

Bhupen Hazarika - An article by Homen Borgohain

Source : Amar Asom , 06-11-2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bhupen Hazarika was a spiritual being: Ravi Shankar

The Hindustan Times , Nov 09,2011
Spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Wednesday described legendary singer Bhupen Hazarika, who died Saturday, as "a deep spiritual being."

In a message mourning his death Saturday, the Art of Living founder said: "Bhupen Hazarika was a legend in Indian music and a pride of our nation. He was not only a musician but a deep spiritual being."

"His valuable contribution in the field of music as well as in visualizing the art and culture of the northeast of India will always be remembered. He will continue to live among us in the form of his soulful compositions, which will stay on to touch the hearts of many."

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Obituaries : Bhupen Hazarika: Musician, poet, film director and social activist

By Ken Hunt Monday 14 November 2011 ,

Bhupen Hazarika was Assam's most famous product not to come off a tea plantation.Link

In a life as a film industry all-rounder, vocalist-composer, journalist and cultural activist, his name became synonymous with Assam. The aptest comparison is Rabindranath Tagore and Bengal; Hazarika's legacy, like Tagore's in his region, is imprinted on the popular and intellectual Assamese and Bangla imagination.

Hazarika, the eldest of 10, was born in 1926 in Sadiya, then the British Raj's furthermost North-eastern frontier station. In 1935 the Assamese poet Jyoti Prasad Agarwala made Assam's first film, an historical drama called Joymoti. Already writing songs by the age of 10, Hazarika acted and sang his own composition in Agarwala's second film, Indramalati (1939). "The melody he inherited was from my mother, Santipriya, although our father was well acquainted with the kirtan and other holy verses," his sister Sudakshina Sarma said.

Academically gifted, he went to Banaras Hindu University, where he obtained a BA and MA in political science. He then worked as a producer for All India Radio's Guwahati station before obtaining a scholarship to study in New York; he received a PhD in mass communication from Columbia University. Absorbing Greenwich Village's music scene, he sang with Paul Robeson and was briefly jailed for participating in civil rights demonstrations.

He applied his American studies well. His re-contextualisation of the Mississippi in "O Ganga Tum..." flaunted melodic lifts from "Ol' Man River". In 1972 and 1973 he sang at East Berlin's Festival of Political Songs. His extensive song output ranged from escapist fare sung by Lata Mangeshkar and his sister Sudakshina to political songs – and was a beacon of how to fuse folk traditions with classical or popular forms. His "Manush Manusher Jonno" ["Humans are for humanity"] came second only to Tagore's national anthem "Amar Sonar Bangla" ["My country of gold"] in a recent Bangladeshi poll.

Returning home married and with a son, he rose to directing film, first in Assamese then in Bengali. Assamese cinema book-ended his directorial credits, from Era Bator Sur (1956) to Siraj (1988). He also contributed music to entertainment and documentary films and TV programmes in Assamese, Bengali and Hindi. In 1992 the Government of India conferred on him the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, its highest prize for contributions to Indian cinema.

As a social activist he straddled causes. During the Assam Movement protests between 1979 and 1985, he wrote and sang songs that others sang in the streets. Spearheaded by the All Assam Students' Union, this mass populist movement railed against illegal immigrants and their alleged involvement in voting scams – and whipped up xenophobia. He also took up the cause of the indigenous peoples, known in Indian parlance as "Tribals", and their cultures. This included directing For Whom the Sun Shines (1974), a documentary about Tribal folk music and dance. He was fêted with many of the subcontinent's most prestigious awards.

Hazarika led an unconventional life by Indian standards. Aged 45, he met the 17-year-old Kalpana Lajmi, the niece of the film director, producer and actor Guru Dutt; Kalpana's mother, the artist Lalitha Lajmi, was Dutt's sister. A year later they were living together. Still stung by his first marriage's failure, they entered into what amounted to a no-marriage pact. Their personal and professional lives remained entwined until the end, with Hazarika contributing music to a series of her "parallel cinema" films, many socially engaged, many addressing women's issues, including Ek Pal (1986), Darmiyaan (1996) and Kyon (2003). After his stroke, she effectively put her career on hold from 2007.

Bhupendra Kumar Hazarika, composer, poet, film director and actor, journalist and social activist: born Sadiya, Lakhimpur district, Assam and Eastern Bengal (now Tinsukia district, Assam) 8 September 1926; married Priyamvada Patel (one son); partner to Kalpana Lajmi; died Mumbai 5 November 2011.