Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Arunachal remembers invaluable contributions of its half-son

The Times of India , Nov 06 2012
ITANAGAR: Dada Saheb Phalke awardee Bhupen Hazarika's four decades-old ties with the people of Arunachal Pradesh has been snapped with his demise on Saturday.

The influence of the unspoiled natural beauty of Arunachal Pradesh (then NEFA) and its rich culture can be clearly heard in many of his early songs - Hamara Arunachal, Budha Luit (Lohit), Tirap simanta rupar nai anta, Man khone khone binay, Assam aamar rupahi gunaru nai sesh Bhrater purba deshar surjya ootha desh, Siangarey Gallong Luitarey Khampti Tirapore Wanchuye kiyo muk matise, Kata jawanar mritu hol (referring to 1962 Chinese aggression) - before the maestro's canvas expanded to embrace the rest of the country, finding appeal with audiences spanning the globe.

tate chief minister Nabam Tuki expressed shock over his death, hailing Hazarika as an iconic figure of the Northeast. Tuki, in New Delhi at present, said in his condolence message: "In him we have lost an icon of the region and a great friend, philosopher and guide of Arunachal. Bhupenda will always be remembered for his emotional attachment with Arunachal and his long association with the state in its cultural evolution. His songs like Siangor Galong (1961) and Tirap himantor (1966) created an emotional bond between the tribes of Arunachal and the people of Assam. His music became a bridge between the people of the hills and the plains."

Hazarika composed Budha Luit, expressing his feelings for Luit, which was devastated by 1930 Great Earthquake, said septuagenarian B K Ghosh Dastidar, a close acquaintance of Hazarika, who had the privilege to work with the singer during his early days.

Dastidar recalled the year 1963 when Hazarika had gone to Arunachal, leading a delegation to spread the feeling of patriotism among its people through his song Kata jawanar mritu haal. Arunachal's cultural icon Bengia Hemanta, who had arranged Bhupenda's visit to Itanagar, when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared Arunachal a Union territory on January 20, 1972, to sing his self-composed Hamara Arunachal, also deeply mourned his death. Hemanta has sung the Nyishi version of the song, which was eventually recorded by the HMV.

The multi-faceted musician, who travelled the length and breadth of Arunachal, directed and composed music for Arunachal's first Hindi feature film Mera Dharam Meri Maa in colour in 1977. The negative of the 35 mm celluloid feature on the social structure of the Nyishi tribe had gone missing. It was eventually traced at the National Film Archive in Kolkata after the state IPR had launched a search, acting upon demands from several NGOs and eminent personalities. The film was preserved for 25 years by a Mumbai-based company, to which the state government had paid Rs 83,000.

Hazarika also directed a colour documentary for the Arunachal Pradesh government on tribal folk songs and dances called For Whom The Sun Shines, in 1974. In 1977 the Arunachal Pradesh government awarded him a gold medal for his outstanding contribution towards tribal welfare and upliftment of tribal culture through cinema and music. Recognizing his invaluable contributions, then Union minister Daying Ering had announced an honourary citizenship in the Parliament for Hazarika, entitling him to visit Arunachal without an ILP.

Hazarika reciprocated the love and accolades from the state by declaring himself a half Arunachalee during a performance on Bihu at Jairampur in April 2004. A senior journalist present at the same programme had recalled a heart-warming incident, quoting the legendary singer. As a one-year infant, Hazarika was taken by the locals to a village in the state where he had spent the entire night. His worried mother was told the next day that the child was fed by all the mothers of the village, the journalist had recounted.

Expressing her profound grief over Hazarika's death, Nanni Dai, widow of famous writer, late Lummer Dai, recalled the illustrious figure's contribution towards bolstering Assam-Arunachal ties. "We can never forget Bhupenda's role in bridging the gap between the two neighbouring states through his soulful music. He had made an indelible mark on the people of Arunachal for cementing its ties with Assam and bringing a sense of peaceful coexistence and harmony between the two states through his unforgettable songs," Dai said.

Arunachal Pradesh Literary Society also expressed its deep shock at Hazarika's death. With his death, Arunachal has lost one of its greatest admirers, said APLS president and Sahitya Akademy awardee, Y D Thongchi and general secretary Tokong Pertin .