Monday, November 7, 2011

The voice of India

Source : The Pioneer ,06 Nov 2011
Bhupen Hazarika’s music united the nation

Music, it is said, heals the soul. But the legendary bard Bhupen Hazarika composed and sang songs that opened wounds and compelled listeners to feel the pain of human neglect. If the curse of nature that humankind continues to plunder came across poignantly in his compositions, the cry of the heart pining for a drop of happiness in an ocean of sorrow lingered in the subconscious almost forever. Bhupenda, as he was affectionately called by his innumerable admirers, made his music a medium of self-discovery. It was this relentless search that connected him with the masses which looked upon him more as some sort of a spiritual guide than a mere singer and composer. That is why his death on November 5 has left more than a void in the world of music. Like the rivers that he invoked in his songs, his music flowed across regions of diverse faiths and languages. He loved his songs as much as he loved those rivers. But, as a devotee feels free to direct his frustration at the deity that has become part of his self and even remonstrate with it, Bhupenda vent his anger at the Ganges and the Brahmaputra for washing away people’s homes, livelihoods and their beloved ones. Realising the cultural and religious connection the rivers had with the people, he deftly used them as metaphors to highlight the rot that had set into our society and our thought-process. When he lamented, Ganga tu behti hai kyon, it was a call to the river to not waste its existence when the people were in the grip of decay. How could the very symbol of purity — which is what the Ganges is — silently flow on when all around us accumulates dirt and corruption? Similarly, his affair with the Brahmaputra was as turbulent. For him the river defined the soul of Assam, his home state, but it was also the cause of tremendous tragedies. Here, he may have had a more personal reason to settle; his village was washed away by the swirling waters of the mighty river. He allowed his anger and pain a free flow in the album, Main aur Mera Saaya. Created in collaboration with lyricist Gulzar, it made him a household name far beyond Assam. The songs, Ye kiski sada hai and Us din ki baat hai, remain unmatched.

Given that he reached out to people across the country through his songs and made them feel part of what he sang and composed, it will be a disservice to the memory of Bhupen Hazarika if we refer to him as the ‘Bard of Brahmaputra’. He was more than that; Bhupenda was the voice of India. He is no more, but like the mighty rivers with which he had a love-hate relationship, his voice will continue to flow on.