Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sai Paranjpye's tribute to Bhupen Hazarika

Sai Paranjpye December 30, 2011 , Indiatoday.intoday.in

I remember Bhupen Hazarika as an affable man who lived and breathed through his music and poetry. Bhupenda, as I fondly called him, was a man with no pretentions as he was a true artist. He worked only for the music and for the love of art. Money was not important for him; it was the least of his concerns. What mattered to him was making good music and tunes which turned out to be soothing melodies. His perpetual smiling face was enlightening to look at and would give us inspiration to stay positive while working with him. Bhupenda's precision at work was inspiring, he would always read the script understand the film, the situation in which the song was being set and then go on to make the right tune. He was one of those people who can be easily called a perfectionist in the true sense. None of the music directors I have worked with to date have shown interest in the whole script and instead just made tunes for the lyrics. I loved his soothing folk and tribal melodies which were considered his trademark. Though he had been ailing for a very long time and wasn't working, it is sad that he is not among us anymore. The Indian music scene has lost its precious gem.

The first time I met Bhupenda was in the early 90s. With a lot of courage I had decided to approach him to make music for my film Papeeha. As it wasn't a mainstream big budget film, I couldn't really offer him a big price. In fact, it was a ridiculously low price to quote to a musician of his calibre. But being the true artist that he was, Bhupenda agreed to work with me for a nominal fee without even an iota of hesitation. I was indebted to him for life.

After the success of Papeeha, I approached him again while making my film Saazin 1996. He was part of the panel of four music directors which included Zakir Hussain and Raj Kamal, who I had signed up for the film. To everybody's surprise, Bhupenda composed the music for the foot tapping and naughty number Baadal Chandi Barsaye. The theme of the film required him to be also filmed in the song. It was a delightful experience shooting him on camera.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bollywood pays tribute to Bhupen Hazarika !

Bhupen Hazarika, the legend passed away a month back and Bollywood is still in the state of shock. Bollywood came in huge number to pay their tribute to the multi talented artist.


Jaya Bachchan was spotted at the prayer meet and didn't want to say much. She just said, "He was a legend and a great man. I cannot confine him to one field."

When asked about Bhupen Da, singer Shreya Ghoshal said, "He was a great man, I always wanted to work with him. But unfortunately by the time I came in the industry, he was too ill to work. Whenever we met at an event, he always blessed me and praised me."
There is no doubt that he was legend, but Pritam feels that his success should be celebrated in a bigger way, "He was a man with excellence. I have always told this and again I want to mention that he should be awarded with the Bharat Ratan Award," said Pritam.

Shabana Azmi also praised the artist. She said, "This is the best way of remembering him. He was a legend and the best."
Source : daily.bhaskar.com


Related Video :



Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Bard has his own Way

Source : sentinelassam.com

The highly accomplished poet in Bhupenda, and an intellectual and a visionary therein, will continue to inspire millions down the ages. Of this, there is no doubt

I could have given the title as ‘‘The Bard had (emphasis mine) his own way’’ instead of the one above. But I feel, as everyone else in this region does, that Dr Bhupen Hazarika cannot live in the past; that any past tense attributes will humiliate the genius. He is in the present and will remain so in the future. He is, ergo, immortal; his music a spontaneous flow of passions surging across the cosmos eternally. That this gem is no more in the material world, thus, cannot be an occasion for grief. Let us all celebrate the Bhupen Hazarika Institution.

It was in 1990, when as a 15-year-old given as much to physics as to philosophy (thanks to the very character of my school then, Ramakrishna Mission, Along, Arunachal Pradesh), I was introduced to Bhupenda. My late father was his great fan; he was not much into music, but then Mukesh and Bhupenda were his favourites — more so the latter. Songs — nay, poetry — such as saagar sangamat.., aakaashi gangaa.. and O bideshi bandhu... were then planted into my heart. My father would often hear me hum, smile, and then with a little rebuke seemed to convey to me that I was doing injustice to the compositions even as he would appreciate my endeavour. Though I could not make much sense of what the legend meant, I loved his songs for the sheer brilliance of their manifestations from poetry of a different kind altogether. Thus, amid the ambience of RK Mission, combined with that of St Edmund’s, Shillong later on, I grew up listening to Bhupenda’s mellifluous music.

It was, if I am not wrong, the famous lyricist Gulzar who had translated Bhupenda’s poetry into Hindi. The bard’s Hindi rendition was flawless; his pronunciation so perfect that it was hard to believe that an Assamese had sung it all. ... O Ganga tum behti ho kyon... had already become a hit. The poet had already acquired a larger-than-life image. He deserved that. And when the Dadasaheb Phalke Award came his way, the Sadiya-born music guru attained a different stature. Gradually the people of Assam — often used to pulling each other’s legs — began to realize the gravity of that personality.

What made Bhupenda so special? The answer is simple: He was a poet who rendered music to his poetry and sang it as though a commoner were singing his heart out either due to joy and celebration of life or because he was grappling with a profundity of sorrow and frustration, at times anger too against the system. Bhupenda was special because he was a poet specially for the masses; the people could identify themselves with his creations. His music, the baritone voice apart, was extraordinary in the sense that it could so neatly encompass the import of his words, his message to the humanity at large, that inner quest for something unspeakable and yet that was being sung aloud, that desire to traverse unknown territories of emotions and passions, that smouldering angst, that burning yearning to test and taste life in all its forms. Who would be not special if he were to chart out a course thus?

He was special also because he had such a wonderful academic career. Getting a Master’s from BHU at 20 years of age, sailing for a PhD in Mass Communications at the University of Columbia, coming back and joining Gauhati University as a Lecturer, and then leaving the job to pursue his passion are things not within the capabilities of many on earth. Bhupenda was special because he was an intellectual. He was a thinker, a very deep one at that. Someone who had pondered on the vicissitudes of life and sought to dig a meaning out of it in order to celebrate it regardless of its dimensions of woes, hate and envy. He was, in that sense, a philosopher.

This is not all. His works have a deep impact on societal studies — call it sociology or whatever. His poetry is a manifestation of the nuances of societal engagements and orientations. He delved deep into the inner recesses of the diverse societies of the Northeast, trying to understand the totality of it all, to discover the common strands therein, to add to their march in the trajectory of human civilization, and to inspire them to remain united come what might. As he invoked the Kameng or the Subansiri of Arunachal Pradesh, as he did with the mighty Brahmaputra ( about 100 of his compositions are dedicated to the Brahmaputra), he would refer to the lives of the people who lived by them, sustaining themselves despite all odds, drawing strength from the flowing waters, sometimes calm, sometimes turbulent, often life-giving, but sometimes turning into a killer; he would point to their cultures, their little joys, their sorrows — often enormous because of the terror those rivers would unleash as they swelled in summers — their relentless struggles, their successes and defeats. Every poem, thus, of the legend is a story — the story of us all.

Bhupenda was a great romanticist. You can define romanticism (do not confuse the word romanticism with romance) in many ways, but what the bard stood for was an element of life that was so capable of generating zeal and zest for life that it was virtually impossible to live a moment without celebrating it, amid its lugubriousness, whatever it might be, or without hoping for a change towards beauty, hence joy (after all, a thing of beauty is a joy for ever, right?). In the romanticism of Bhupenda you can discover a desire for life in its full blossom, for beauty in its absolute majesty, for truth in its untainted hue, for God in its barrierless form. Such persons are rare.

Hence I welcome the decision of the Tarun Gogoi government to have his body cremated at the Gauhati University campus. The poet-intellectual-visionary-humanist deserves an immortal place at the university. The decision to set up a cultural centre at the spot, so that it could evolve as a site of pilgrimage too on the lines of Rajghat, is a welcome one as well. But far more important is how we the people of Assam preserve the priceless legacy left behind by the genius. The fashion of preservation is what will count the most, and not pompousness and show business, not even these tears that will perhaps cease after some time. Pragmatism is the need of the hour, not rhetoric.

Towards that end, we in The Sentinel, through our editorial titled ‘‘A GU Chair for Bhupenda’’ carried yesterday, have proposed that a special Chair be set up at Gauhati University, to be adorned by a Professor having mastery over interdisciplinary studies, for the purpose of rigorous research in the Bhupen Hazarika universe. The Chair may be called the Bhupen Hazarika Chair, attracting students not just of musicology but also of literature, political science, sociology and philosophy. The Chair could go a long way in the making of new ideas stemming from the works of our beloved bard.

In the ultimate analysis, Bhupenda, as a poet first, was a free man, and in that freedom lie the seeds of creativity, in such creativity lies the genesis of geniuses like the one in question, and in such geniuses lies the cradle of civilization.

Salute to you, Bhupenda. You have not died! You will be living anew. Sure.

BIKASH SARMAH

'গঙ্গা আমার মা, পদ্মা আমার মা-------'


'গংগা আমার মা, পদ্মা আমার মা' গানটা প্রথম প্রকাশিত হয় ১৯৭১ সালে, দূর্গাপূজার সময়। ১৯৭১ মানেই আমাদের মুক্তিযুদ্ধ, '৭১ মানেই আমাদের পরাধীনতার শৃংখল ভেঙ্গে বেড়িয়ে আসা, ৭১ মানেই আমাদের বিজয়, '৭১ মানেই আমাদের বাংলাদেশ। ঠিক ঐ সময়টাতেই এই গানটির সৃষ্টি, কি গভীর গানের কথা, কি গভীর গানের সুর। চোখ ফেটে জল আসে, যখনই গানটি শুনি বুকের ভেতর কি যে এক অনুভূতির সৃষ্টি হয়, সব অনুভূতি ভাষায় প্রকাশ করা যায়না অথবা তা সব সময় করা উচিতও না। আমি গানপাগল মানুষ, গান ভালোবাসি, কয়েকটা গান সঞ্জীবনী মন্ত্রের মত কাজ করে, তার মধ্যে এই গানটি হচ্ছে একটি।
'৭১ এর মুক্তিযুদ্ধের সময় আমি ছিলাম অনেক ছোট, প্রথম কয়েক মাস দেশের ভেতর নানা জায়গায় পালিয়ে পালিয়ে থেকে শেষ পর্যন্ত ভারতে গিয়ে আশ্রয় নিয়েছিলাম আমরা। মাসের নাম মনে নেই, তবে আন্দাজ করি জুলাই মাসের দিকে আমরা ভারতে পৌঁছেছিলাম, আমার কাকার ভাড়া করা বাড়ীতেই উঠেছিলাম আমরা। ঐ সময়টা যে আলাদা এক সময় সেটা বুঝতে পারতাম। আমাদের কোন বায়নাক্কা ছিলোনা, যেমন রেখেছে বাবা মা, তেমনই থেকেছি। বিনোদনের কিছু ছিলনা, শুধু ঐ বাড়ির বারান্দায় বসে থেকে রাস্তার দোকান বা হোটেলগুলো থেকে মাইকে যে গান বাজতো, তাই শুনে কাটাতাম।
কখন দূর্গাপূজা চলে এসেছিল টেরও পাইনি, ঐ পাড়াতেই একটা পূজা হয়েছিল, কিনতু নিজেদের সব সময় বহিরাগত মনে হতো বলে ভীরু ভীরু পায়ে মাঝে মাঝে গিয়ে দাঁড়াতাম প্যান্ডেলের সামনে। দিনরাত মাইকে গান বাজতো। অনেক গানের ভেতর ভুপেন হাজারিকার 'গংগা আমার মা, পদ্মা আমার মা' গানটা যখনই বেজে উঠতো, আমি আর আমার ছোট ভাই দৌড়ে বারান্দায় চলে যেতাম আর কান খাড়া করে গানটা শুনতাম। আমার ছোট ভাইটা তার কচি গলাতে কি সুন্দর করে গাইতো এই গানটা। ঐ বছর লতা মুঙ্গেসকরের 'ও প্রজাপতি, প্রজাপতি, পাখনা মেলো' গানটাও বেরিয়েছিল, এই গানটাও আমার ছোট ভাইটা সুন্দর করে গাইতো (আমাদের আর কিছুতো করার ছিলোনা)। কিনতু ৬ বছরের এক বালিকার হৃদয়ে 'গঙ্গা আমার মা' গানটাতে যে কি তুমুল আলোড়ন সৃষ্টি হতো, তখনই এই গানের কথাগুলো বুঝতে পারতাম, মায়ের কাছে জানতে চাইতাম, গানটা এমন কেন। আমার মায়ের তখন তরুণী বয়স, তার উপর স্বদেশী আন্দোলনের বই পড়ে পড়ে তাঁর চিন্তা ভাবনা গুলো অন্য সব মায়েদের থেকে ভিন্ন ছিল, নিজের ঘর-সংসার ফেলে এসে যাযাবরের জীবন যাপন, কাজেই তাঁর ব্যাখ্যাগুলো ছিল অনেক অন্য রকম। সেই থেকেই আমাদের শিশু হৃদয়ে দেশপ্রেম এর বীজ বোনা হয়ে গেছে, সেই থেকেই ভুপেন হাজারিকা আমার প্রিয় শিল্পী হয়ে গেছে। অনেকের মত আমরাও থেকে যেতে পারতাম ভারতেই, কারন আমাদের কিছুই অবশিষ্ট ছিলোনা দেশে, সাত মাসে আমার বাবা আমাদের স্কুলে ভর্তি করিয়ে দিয়েছিলেন, কাকার ওষুধের দোকানের ব্যবসা খুব সচল করে দিয়েছেন, কিনতু তারপরেও আমরা থাকিনি, আমাদের দেশপ্রেমিক বাবা মায়ের হাত ধরে দেশে চলে এসেছিলাম, আমার বাবা আবার শূণ্য থেকে শুরু করেছিলেন।.......Read More

Musical tribute to Bhupen Hazarika

Hindustan Times , December 23, 2011

On December 27, renowned names from the music fraternity will come together to pay homage to Bhupen Hazarika, who passed away on November 5 this year. The 85-year-old legendary musician had suffered multiple organ failure at a Mumbai hospital.

he commemoration, organised by Hazarika's companion filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi, will be held at the lawn of her residence at Lokhandwala on December 27. Noted singer Lata Mangeshkar, along with sisters Asha and Usha, flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia, composers Bappi Lahiri, Himesh Reshammiya and Pritam Chakraborty will be some of the attendees.

"It will be a tribute to Bhupen Hazarika through music. He is not only loved by all for his music, but also for being a great human being," says Lajmi. Chief Minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi and Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan are also expected at the memorial.

An award-winning musical genius from Assam, Hazarika had contributed to the Indian film industry for 72 years as a singer and composer. He had also directed Assamese films like Era Bator Sur (1956), Mahut Bandhu Re (1958), Mon-Prajapati (1979) and Swikarokti(1986). Known for singing compositions in 18 languages including Bengali, Hindi, Oriya and Assamese, he is also remembered for his signature tunes for films like Devdas (1979), Rudaali (1993) and Gaja Gamini (2000).

The memorial will witness musicians dedicating songs to the bard. "We don't want the music fraternity to mourn, but to feel proud of the huge contribution by Bhupen Hazarika," says Lajmi. Adds Pritam, "Bhupen da will always be in our heart. And it is only through music that we can flourish his soul. I have asked my musician friends to join me on his special day because music is the only medium to feel the eternal soul of Bhupen da. That day, we are going to salute the true legend all together."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Movie Poster : Kechason (1959)

The Bard’s ballads will sustain Brahmaputra

Source : By Sanjoy Hazarika , The Sunday-Guardian.com , 13 Nov 2011

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. Bhupen Hazarika's ballads will sustain the river, which was his true muse. There are very few of his truly great songs which do not have a strong resonance of and reference to the Lohit or the Brahmaputra. He wrote 1,500 lyrics in a creative journey that began 72 years ago when he was 13 in tiny Sadiya, near Tezpur, in North Assam.

For those of us from Assam and the Northeast, there is one fundamental truth —without the Brahmaputra, there can be no Assam or Northeast or lands beyond our borders. It is our lifeline, one of our most defining assets and entities.

It would be no exaggeration to say that in every household of Assam, a lamp has burned these past nights to honour the greatest figure that most people of that beautiful but blighted state have known. Across India, South Asia and the world, many of us who are Assamese and many others who are not, have done the same and sung, wept and prayed out of shradha for Bhupen Hazarika, whose lyrics keep running around in our heads, playing on radio stations and over television channels. 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.

The outpouring of spontaneous love and affection for him was nothing short of extraordinary. Millions of people, young and old, the rich and the poor, the infirm and the healthy, stood in line patiently for hours through the day and night to pay homage. Many wept, but others sang his songs of humanity and equality, his political signature tunes, which have become part of our folklore and history. Everyone used their mobile phones to click pictures; they wanted a piece of him, or history.

They came not just from every corner of Assam, but from across the Northeast and beyond as songs played through the day and night over public address systems on every street of Guwahati.

It was as he had sung, in his unforgettable Sagar ­Songramat or "At the Confluence of Seas", where he had never tired of swimming. For many Assamese, he was a creative genius with his songs proclaiming the rights of man, of brotherhood in that rich, velvety baritone.

In that expression of their affection, the Assamese showed the rest of India their true face and spirit — not of anger and disappointment at neither being deceived by Delhi time and again, nor resentment and suspicion at being slighted by its failure to honour him adequately or any other great figures from the region for that matter. It was this: "What can you do for or to us — we have chosen our path and you yours. So let us walk separately." Sending a rookie politician with aspirations or pretensions of being Prime Minister just because he happens to bear the Gandhi name, who could not even get to the cremation in time, shows how far Delhi is from understanding that respect. There is a demand for the Bharat Ratna for Dr Hazarika. But as one of my relatives recently blogged, "Let the mandarins of Delhi keep their awards and wear them round their necks, if they so wish."

They've missed the opportunity to share respect, failed again to move in time to accord him the dignity that the people of the region — and I include the larger region here, of the NER, Bangladesh, West Bengal and Nepal — have always given him. Everything will be too little, too late — as usual.

In contrast, Dhaka's recognition of Bhupen Hazarika by honouring him with the country's highest civilian award shows how misconceived and prejudiced have been Indian comprehensions of our neighbouring country. We have failed to distinguish between the agendas of government security agencies and the goodwill of people. But why Bangladesh?

It was his marching, stirring compositions for the Bangladeshi freedom struggle: Joi Joi Nabajata Bangladesh, Joi Joi Mukti Bahini, which was on every Bengali's lips as that momentous struggle for liberation gathered strength and inspired that battle for freedom. And when Bangladesh was born, he was welcomed there like a hero.

As the cremation took place, 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 Northeastern countryside for more to pay their homage, but I do worry about a cult-like situation around a 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 Kolkata and Mumbai, cities which, in his middle and later years, gave him both dignity and financial stability.

To millions he was simply "BhupenDa", including those of the younger generation who have never seen him barring on television and the small screens nor heard him live — but only on CDs and DVDs. So, there are two classes of people today — those who knew him personally and those who did not.

Yet, as one Assamese student said the other day, Bhupen Hazarika spanned generational distances seamlessly: "It was the distance between the television screen and your heart — that was how instant the connection was."

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 was singing with him (and she was a 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. He used to visit us occasionally whenever he happened to be in Shillong, lighting up days and lives.

This is the first of a two-part article on Bhupen Hazarika Some years back, I was privileged to work with him and Kalpana Lajmi, his companion of many years and partner in numerous creative ventures, who took care of him with fierce affection, in a documentary series for Doordarshan on the Northeast. My collaboration began when the great man called and asked me to help. Could anyone say no to him?

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

He was more than the Bard of the Brahmaputra. A passionate crusader for rights, for the poor (notice how his early and also later songs drive home the message of equality even in times of pain), he 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 a part of him as his ability to give love and creativity.

Let me recall an evening, some years ago in Tezpur, where a small group gathered in the elegant drawing room of the (now late) Dr Robin and Dr Laksmi Goswami (Baideau), a couple who were very close to Bhupen Hazarika, sipping drinks and listening to a long-time politician recount of one of his favorite anecdotes in the Assam Assembly. The politician spoke of how a mischief-making MLA had got another Opposition member, who was quite easy to sway, to challenge the then Leader of the Opposition, the late Dulal Baruah, in the House on a point of order. An outraged Baruah thundered at his backbencher to shut up, but the instigator was not done yet. "Press on a point of order," he hissed at his wavering colleague.

"Point of order!" yelled the now-defiant member, who was once again stumped when the Speaker asked him, quite legitimately, "On what grounds?" He fumbled, but then his friend whispered again, "Say, bad grammar." "Bad grammar, sir," suggested the legislator. The House dissolved in laughter as Baruah gazed balefully at his two tormentors.

The name of the questioner is not important, but there is much to be said of the mischief-maker, who was the storyteller himself — none other than Bhupen Hazarika.

Whereas he was a legend in Eastern India for decades, it was his compositions for the film Rudali which won Hazarika recognition across the subcontinent, a recognition which came very late in life. As head of the Sahitya Kala Parishad, he ensured that the Sattirya dance form of Assam was given its rightful place as a classical dance form of India and his own sangeet became immortalised as a new genre, a new school of music, the Bhupendra gharana. Perhaps the best example of the humanistic ideals that imbue his works is the song Manuhe Manuhar Babe (for man), composed in 1964:

If man wouldn't think for man/With a little sympathy/Tell me who will comrade./If we repeat history/If we try to buy/Or sell humanity/Won't we be wrong comrade?/If the weak/Tide across the rapids of life/With your help/What do you stand to lose?/If man does not become man/A demon never will/If a demon turns more human/Whom shall it shame more, comrade?

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 on the currents of the Brahmaputra, flowed the values and traditions of the Vaishnav reformer Srimanta Sankardeva of the 15th and 16th centuries; the valour and call to arms of Lachit Barphukan, 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 Bishnu 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 has fallen silent but he remains among us through his songs, his music, his films, his convictions and his love for Assam. Just by being amongst us, he enriched us — and single handedly did more for Assam and the region than all politicians, agitators and "underground" groups, media and all of us collectively. Like many others, I have spent these days listening to his music and songs and realising how mighty a figure has fallen and how little do we comprehend that he is irreplaceable. And that such a person may not come again for centuries.

The Lohit still flows and rumbles, but where is its singer and interpreter of its maladies? Perhaps the jajabor (wanderer) has, finally, found a resting place. The Bard is immortal.

This is the first of a two-part article on Bhupen Hazarika

The Bard of Lohit was also a prankster - By Sanjoy Hazarika

Some years back, I was privileged to work with Bhupen Hazarika and Kalpana Lajmi, his companion of many years and partner in numerous creative ventures, who took care of him with fierce affection, in a documentary series for Doordarshan on the Northeast. My collaboration began when the great man called and asked me to help. Could anyone say no to him?

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

He was more than the Bard of the Brahmaputra. A passionate crusader for rights, for the poor (notice how his early and also later songs drive home the message of equality even in times of pain), he 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 a part of him as his ability to give love and creativity.

Let me recall an evening, some years ago in Tezpur, where a small group gathered in the elegant drawing room of the (now late) Dr Robin and Dr Laksmi Goswami (Baideau), a couple who were very close to Bhupen Hazarika, sipping drinks and listening to a long-time politician recount of one of his favorite anecdotes in the Assam Assembly. The politician spoke of how a mischief-making MLA had got another Opposition member, who was quite easy to sway, to challenge the then Leader of the Opposition, the late Dulal Baruah, in the House on a point of order. An outraged Baruah thundered at his backbencher to shut up, but the instigator was not done yet. "Press on a point of order," he hissed at his wavering colleague.

"Point of order!" yelled the now-defiant member, who was once again stumped when the Speaker asked him, quite legitimately, "On what grounds?" He fumbled, but then his friend whispered again, "Say, bad grammar." "Bad grammar, sir," suggested the legislator.

The House dissolved in laughter as Baruah gazed balefully at his two tormentors. The name of the questioner is not important, but there is much to be said of the mischief-maker, who was the storyteller himself — none other than Bhupen Hazarika.

Whereas he was a legend in Eastern India for decades, it was his compositions for the film Rudali which won Hazarika recognition across the subcontinent, a recognition which came very late in life. As head of the Sahitya Kala Parishad, he ensured that the Sattirya dance form of Assam was given its rightful place as a classical dance form of India and his own sangeet became immortalised as a new genre, a new school of music, the Bhupendra gharana.

Perhaps the best example of the humanistic ideals that imbue his works is the song Manuhe Manuhar Babe (for man), composed in 1964: If man wouldn't think for man/With a little sympathy/Tell me who will, comrade?/If we repeat history/If we try to buy/Or sell humanity/Won't we be wrong comrade?/If the weak/Tide across the rapids of life/With your help/What do you stand to lose?/If man does not become man/A demon never will/If a demon turns more human/Whom shall it shame more, comrade?

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 on the currents of the Brahmaputra, flowed the values and traditions of the Vaishnav reformer Srimanta Sankardeva of the 15th and 16th centuries; the valour and call to arms of Lachit Barphukan, 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 Bishnu 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 has fallen silent but he remains among us through his songs, his music, his films, his convictions and his love for Assam. Just by being amongst us, he enriched us — and single handedly did more for Assam and the region than all politicians, agitators and "underground" groups, media and all of us collectively. Like many others, I have spent these days listening to his music and songs and realising how mighty a figure has fallen and how little we comprehend that he is irreplaceable. And that such a person may not come again for centuries.

The Lohit still flows and rumbles, but where is its singer and interpreter of its maladies? Perhaps the jajabor (wanderer) has, finally, found a resting place. The Bard is immortal.

This is the second of a two-part article on Bhupen Hazarika

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

মুক্তিযুদ্ধে ভূপেন হাজারিকার ভূমিকা

 ড. আবুল আজাদ , dailyjanakantha.com , 13 Dec 2011
ত ৫ নবেম্বর ২০১১ শনিবার প্রখ্যাত সঙ্গীতশিল্পী ভূপেন হাজারিকা জগত সংসারের সকল মায়ার বন্ধন ত্যাগ করলে ভারতের মতো বাংলাদেশের মানুষও শোকাভিভূত হয়ে পড়ে। মৃত্যুর আগে দীর্ঘ সময় ধরেই তিনি অসুস্থ ছিলেন। গত ২৯ জুন শ্বাসকষ্টজনিত সমস্যার কারণে তাঁকে ভারতের মুম্বাইয়ের হাসপাতালে ভর্তি করা হয়। সেখানে কয়েক দফা চিকিৎসার পর অবস্থার অবনতি ঘটলে আই.সি.ইউতে রাখা হয়। কিডনি দুটি ড্যামেজ হয়ে যাওয়ার কারণে তাঁকে ডায়ালিসিস করে বাঁচিয়ে রাখা হয়েছিল, শেষ রক্ষা হয়নি।
কিংবদন্তির এই শিল্পী মৃত্যুর আগে কয়েক দশকব্যাপী গণমানুষের গান গেয়ে ভারত, বাংলাদেশ ও বিশ্বের সকল বাঙালী জনগোষ্ঠীর মধ্যে অভূতপূর্ব জনপ্রিয়তা অর্জন করেন। তার "গঙ্গা আমার মা,পদ্মা আমার মা" ভারত-বাংলাদেশে বসবাসকারী বাঙালীদের মধ্যে সাংস্কৃতিক সেতুবন্ধন তৈরিতে অসামান্য ভূমিকা পালন করে। এছাড়াও তার "মানুষ মানুষের জন্য," "বিসত্মীর্ণ দু'পাড়ে অসংখ্য মানুষের হাহাকার শুনে," "আমি এক যাযাবর" বিশ্বের ত্রিশ কোটি বাঙালীর হৃদয়ের মণিকোঠায় স্থান লাভ করেছে। এই মহান সঙ্গীতশিল্পী ১৯২৬ সালের ৮ সেপ্টেম্বর ভারতের অসম রাজ্যে জন্মগ্রহণ করেন। অসমিয়া তাঁর মাতৃভাষা হলেও তিনি বাংলা, হিন্দী এবং অসমিয়া আঞ্চলিক ভাষায় গান করেন। তাঁর প্রায় সব গানই গণচেতনতামূলক যা তাঁকে ভারতীয় উপ-মহাদেশে স্বতন্ত্র ধারার সঙ্গীত স্রষ্টার আসনে ঠাঁই দিয়েছে। সঙ্গীত সাধনার জন্য তিনি ভারতের রাষ্ট্রীয় সম্মাননা 'পদ্মশ্রী' ও 'পদ্মভূষণ' পদকসহ জীবদ্দশাতেই অসংখ্য পুরস্কারে ভূষিত হয়েছেন। ১৯৭১ সালে শিল্পী ভূপেন হাজারিকা ছিলেন অসম বিধান সভার সদস্য এবং জননন্দিত রাজনীতিক। ১৯৭১-এর ২৫ মার্চ রাতে ঢাকায় পশ্চিম পাকিস্তানী সৈন্যদের অপারেশন সার্চলাইটের মধ্যেমে ব্যাপক গণহত্যা শুরু হলে পাক হায়নাদের হাত থেকে জীবন বাঁচাতে মানুষ ঢাকা ছাড়তে থাকে। পরবর্তী তিন দিনের মধ্যেই সারাদেশে গণহত্যা শুরু হলে মানুষ জীবন বাঁচাতে সীমান্ত অতিক্রম করে ভারতে আশ্রয় নিতে শুরু করে। বাংলাদেশের গণমাধ্যম এ সময় অবরম্নদ্ধ থাকায় পরিস্থিতির বাসত্মবচিত্র প্রকাশ না পেলেও বাংলাদেশকে ঘিরে থাকা ভারতের পশ্চিমবঙ্গ, অসম, ত্রিপুরা ও মেঘালয়ের স্থানীয় সংবাদপত্রসহ বিভিন্ন আনত্মর্জাতিক গণমাধ্যমে পরিস্থিতির কিছু কিছু চিত্র প্রকাশ পাচ্ছিল এবং বাংলাদেশকে ঘিরে থাকা ভারতের প্রাদেশিক বিধান সভাসমূহের জরুরী সভা আহ্বান করে এ বিষয়ে হস্তক্ষেপ করার জন্য ভারতের কেন্দ্রীয় সরকারের দৃষ্টি আকর্ষণ করা হয়। আমার "মুক্তিযুদ্ধে ত্রিপুরা সংবাদপত্রের ভূমিকা" (প্রকাশকাল ২১ ফেব্রম্নয়ারি ২০০৪) গ্রন্থের ৪০ পৃষ্ঠায় ত্রিপুরার দৈনিক সংবাদ পত্রিকার ৩১ মার্চ ১৯৭১ সংখ্যার তৃতীয় পৃষ্ঠায় প্রকাশিত " অসম বিধান সভায় বাংলা সরকারকে স্বীকৃতি দানের দাবি প্রস্তাব" শীর্ষক উদ্ধৃত সংবাদে মন্তব্য করা হয়, "গুয়াহাটি ৩০ মার্চ : আজ অসম বিধান সভায় সর্বসম্মত প্রস্তাবে অবিলম্বে স্বাধীন বাংলা সরকারকে স্বীকৃতি ও সর্বপ্রকার সাহায্য দানের জন্য ভারত সরকারের কাছে দাবি জানানো হয়েছে। আজ বিধান সভা অধিবেশন চলাকালে সদস্য ড. ভূপেন হাজারিকা স্বাধীন বাংলাদেশের পতাকা উত্তোলন করলে সমসত্ম সদস্য পতাকাকে অভিনন্দন জানান।"
এবার আমি একটু পেছনে ফিরে যাই, কলকাতার যাদবপুর বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ে পি-এইচ.ডি করতে গিয়ে সেখানে আমার অবস্থানের মেয়াদ ছিল সব মিলিয়ে প্রায় ছয় বছর। এ সময় আমি পশ্চিমবঙ্গ, অসম, মেঘালয়, ত্রিপুরাসহ ভারতের প্রায় প্রতিটি প্রদেশে সফর করার বিরল সুযোগ পাই। আমার গবেষণার বিষয় ছিল 'জাতীয় কবি কাজী নজরুল ইসলামের রাষ্ট্র ও সমাজচিন্তা।' তবে যেখানেই গেছি গবেষণা সংক্রানত্ম তথ্য সংগ্রহের পাশাপাশি আমাদের মুক্তিযুদ্ধের তথ্য সংগ্রহের চেষ্টা করেছি। কিন্তু এটা করতে গিয়ে আমি বাংলাদেশের মানুষের প্রতি ভারতীয়দের তীব্র ক্ষোভ এবং উষ্মা লক্ষ্য করি। সব জায়গাতেই একই সুর, কণ্ঠ- "সেই যে ৭১-এ গেলেন আর তো একদিনও দেখতে এলেন না। আমরা তো আপনাদের যত্নআত্তির ত্রম্নটি করিনি।" বিষয়টি আমার ভেতর তীব্র প্রতিক্রিয়ার সৃষ্টি করে। আমি তখন কলকাতায় শ্রী অন্নদাশংকর রায়, পশ্চিমবঙ্গের তৎকালীন সংস্কৃতি মন্ত্রী-পুলিশ মন্ত্রী ও পরবর্তীতে মুখ্যমন্ত্রী বুদ্ধদেব ভট্টাচার্য, কবি সমরেন্দ্র সেনগুপ্ত, কবি সুনীল গঙ্গোপাধ্যায় এবং যাদবপুর বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের কর্তৃপক্ষসহ ঢাকায় কথাশিল্পী শওকত ওসমান, নাট্যকার মমতাজউদদীন আহমদ, বিশিষ্ট সাংবাদিক আবেদ খান সহ মুক্তিযোদ্ধা সংসদ কেন্দ্রীয় কমান্ড কাউন্সিলের সঙ্গে আলোচনা করে সিদ্ধানত্ম নেই যে কলকাতার যাদবপুর বিশ্ববিদ্যালয় মাঠে ১৯৯৭ সালের ২-৩ ডিসেম্বর বাংলাদেশের মুক্তিযুদ্ধ উৎসব অনুষ্ঠিত হবে। ঐ অনুষ্ঠানে বাংলাদেশের মুক্তিযুদ্ধে গুরুত্বপূর্ণ অবদানের জন্য ১৯ জন বিশিষ্ট ভারতীয় নাগরিককে সংবর্ধনা প্রদানের সিদ্ধান্ত গৃহীত হয়। তাদের মধ্যে ড. ভূপেন হাজারিকা অন্যতম। আমরা সংবর্ধনার জন্য নির্বাচিত প্রত্যেকের পূর্ব সম্মতি গ্রহণ করি। এ উদ্দেশ্যে কলকাতার যাদবপুর সংলগ্ন গলফ গ্রীনের ৭৭/বি, গলফ ক্লাব রোডের ভূপেন হাজারিকার বাসায় যোগাযোগ করি। আমাকে জানানো হয় উনি বোম্বেতে থাকেন মাঝে মধ্যে কলকাতায় আসেন। আমি বোম্বের নম্বর নিয়ে টেলিফোনে কথা বললে তিনি দিন পনেরো পরে কলকাতায় আসবেন বলে জানান। কিন্তু তিনি আর আসেননি। আমি বোম্বেতে যোগাযোগ করলে তিনি জানান একটি ছবি নির্মাণ নিয়ে অনেক ঝামেলার মধ্যে আছেন এবং উৎসবের জন্য নির্ধারিত সময়ে তার পক্ষে কলকাতায় আসা সম্ভব নয়। মনটা খুব খারাপ হয়ে গেল। সংবর্ধিতদের তালিকায় তখন সঙ্গীত শিল্পীদের মধ্যে আমাদের প্রত্যাশা হয়ে রইলেন শিল্পী হেমাঙ্গ বিশ্বাস।
যথারীতি মুক্তিযুদ্ধ উৎসব হয়ে যাওয়ার পর কলকাতা থেকে ফেরার আগে আমি পুনরায় যোগাযোগ করি ভূপেন হাজারিকার কলকাতার বাসায়। তাঁর সহকারী জানান, উনি এখন গুয়াহাটি আছেন, কালই কলকাতা ফিরছেন। পরদিন বিকেলে আবার ফোন করি। শিল্পী ভূপেন হাজারিকা আমাকে বললেন, তোমার উৎসব তো শেষ। আমি বোম্বেতে দূরদর্শনে অনুষ্ঠান দেখেছি, আর কি বাকি রইল বল? আমি বললাম আমাদের মুক্তিযুদ্ধে আপনার অসামান্য অবদানের কিছু কথা আপনার মুখ থেকে শুনতে চাই। আমি এ বিষয়ে গবেষণা করছি। তিনি বললেন, কাল সারাদিন রেকর্ডিংয়ে ব্যসত্ম থাকব। পরশু সকালের ফ্লাইটে বোম্বে ফিরছি। সময় থাকলে তুমি এখনই চলে আস। আমি ছুটে যাই তার গলফ ক্লাব রোডের ৭৭/বি নম্বর বাসায়। গিয়ে দেখি অগণিত দর্শনার্থী। সবাইকে ডিঙ্গিয়ে তাঁর চেয়ারের পাশে গিয়ে আমার পরিচয় দিই। উনি জানতে চান তোমার কতক্ষণ সময় লাগবে। আমি বললাম সেটা তো নির্ভর করছে আপনার ওপর, আপনি কতক্ষণ বলবেন। তিনি দর্শনার্থীদের আধাঘণ্টা বসার অনুরোধ করে, আমাকে ভেতরের একটি রম্নমে নিয়ে বসালেন। জিজ্ঞেস করলেন-বল কি জানতে চাও? আমি বললাম '৭১-এ বাংলাদেশের মুক্তিযুদ্ধে আপনার ভূমিকা সম্পর্কে কিছু বলুন যা আমাদের ইতিহাসের অংশ হয়ে থাকবে। তিনি পাল্টা প্রশ্ন করলেন এত দিন পরে কেন? আমি বললাল ভাল কাজটা সব সময় বিলম্বেই হয়, যেমন-"ওয়ার এ্যান্ড পিস" ফ্রেঞ্চ যুদ্ধের পঁয়ষট্টি বছর পর তলসত্ময় লিখেছেন।
-"তোমাদের যুদ্ধের কত বছর পর সেই ইতিহাসটা লেখা হবে?"
-আমাদের অনেকেই লিখছেন, এদের মধ্যে কেউ না কেউ নিশ্চয়ই সফল হবেন। আমি আমাদের মুক্তিযুদ্ধে আপনার ভূমিকা জানতে এসেছি।
-"১৯৭১ সালের মার্চ মাসের শেষ দিকে পশ্চিম পাকিসত্মানী সৈন্যরা পূর্ব পাকিসত্মানে যে গণহত্যা, নির্যাতন, লুটপাট শুরম্ন করে তার বিসত্মারিত জেনে আমি খুব মর্মাহত হই। ভারতে বসবাসকারী বাঙালীসহ সমগ্র ভারতবাসী ঐ রকম একটি আকস্মিক ঘটনায় হতবিহ্বল হয়ে পড়ে। আমি তখন গুয়াহাটিতে ক'জন বিধায়কের সঙ্গে বিষয়টি নিয়ে কথা বলি। সম্ভবত ৩০ মার্চ বিধান সভার অধিবেশনে আমি তোমাদের জাতীয় সঙ্গীত রবিঠাকুরের "আমার সোনার বাংলা আমি তোমায় ভালোবাসি" গাইতে গাইতে তোমাদের জাতীয় পতাকা নিয়ে বিধান সভায় প্রবেশ করি। কিছু সদস্য আমার এই ভূমিকাকে সহজভাবে না নিলেও সেদিন অধিকাংশ বিধায়কই আমাকে সমর্থন জ্ঞাপন করেন এবং বিধান সভার অধ্যক্ষের অনুমতি নিয়ে আমি আমার বক্তব্য পেশ করি। তখন সর্বসম্মতিক্রমে স্বাধীন বাংলাদেশের স্বাধীনতার দাবিকে স্বীকৃতি প্রদান এবং শরণার্থীদের আশ্রয়দানের জন্য ভারতের কেন্দ্রীয় সরকারের কাছে দাবি জানানোর প্রসত্মাব গৃহীত হয়। আমি যখন বিধান সভায় বাংলাদেশের পতাকা প্রদর্শন করি এবং দাঁড়িয়ে আমার সোনার বাংলা গাইতে থাকি তখন বিধান সভার স্পীকারসহ সকল বিধায়ক দাঁড়িয়ে বাংলাদেশের পতাকাকে সম্মান প্রদর্শন করেন। তুমি এ সময়ের বিভিন্ন পত্রিকায় এই ঘটনার তথ্যগুলো পাবে।"
এবার সামনে ফিরে যাই। কলকাতা থেকে ঢাকায় ফিরে আমি কিছুটা সময় প্রস্তুতি নিয়ে প্রথমে ত্রিপুরায় যাই তারপর মেঘালয় এবং অসমের গুয়াহাটি। তন্নতন্ন করে খুঁজে ফিরি '৭১-এর মার্চের সে সময়ের পত্রিকা। কিন্তু কোথাও কোন পত্রিকারই কপি মেলে না। শেষতক ফিরতি পথে আমাকে উদ্ধার করেন ত্রিপুরার রাজধানী আগরতলা থেকে প্রকাশিত দৈনিক সংবাদ পত্রিকার কার্যনির্বাহী সম্পাদক পারমিতা লিভিংস্টোন। এই পত্রিকাটি '৭১ সালেও বেরম্নত, এখনও অব্যাহত আছে অথচ পশ্চিমবঙ্গ, অসম, মেঘালয় ও ত্রিপুরার ঐ সময়ে প্রকাশিত অনেক পত্রিকা ইতোমধ্যে বিলুপ্ত হয়ে গেছে। পারমিতা '৭১-এর ফাইল খুললেন এবং ৩১ মার্চ সংখ্যায় পেয়ে গেলাম সেই প্রত্যাশিত সংবাদটি, যদিও অতিমাত্রায় সংক্ষিপ্ত-বিষয়টি ইতোমধ্যেই উলেস্নখ করা হয়েছে। এখন বিরল ভূমিকা যার_আমাদের মুক্তি সংগ্রামে, তার মৃতু্য সংবাদে এই তথ্য উলেস্নখ না করে আমরা তাঁর শেষ যাত্রায় সম্মান প্রদর্শনে কার্পণ্য করে ফেললাম। এ জন্য ড. ভূপেন হাজারিকার বিদেহী আত্মার কাছে ক্ষমা চাই। পত্রিকায় দেখলাম মুক্তিযুদ্ধ বিষয়ক মন্ত্রণালয়ের উদ্যোগে এবার বিজয় দিবসে মুক্তিযুদ্ধে অবদানের জন্য বিদেশীদের সম্মাননা প্রদান করা হবে। সরকারের কাছে আমার সনির্বন্ধ অনুরোধ, ঐ তালিকার মরণোত্তর অংশে যাতে ড. ভূপেন হাজারিকার নাম থাকে।
লেখক : গবেষক

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When Brahmaputra cried…

By Bidyut Kotoky , newglobalindian.com , 15 Dec 2011

Wanting to write for the last few days... but was not able to access the proper words... it seemed that the emperor of words had taken his treasure along when he had departed...

The other day, while going through a book I came across an interesting anecdote – narrated by Professor Narayan Parashuram of St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. He was supposedly told by folk-rock legend Bob Dylan that he was inspired by an artiste called Bhupen Hazarika in the early 60s... 'but very unfortunately he hails from a country like India and more unfortunately, he decided to return to that country... had he stayed back here (in the US), a lot of people around the world would have introduced themselves as Bhupenites...'

'Unfortunately return to the country'? Not quite, Mr. Dylan! You should have been in Assam this week (mid—November) to understand how we pay respect our artist ... too bad the national media had not covered it the way they should have to make the people of rest of India experience it first-hand! (On second thought, why should they? After all, this time it was not a serial bomb blasts or discovering of a mass grave in the north-east of India we were talking about! How can the national media think of any other reason to feature Assam/north-east in the front page??).

Over 600,000 people turned out for the funeral of 'the bard of Brahmaputra', Dr Bhupen Hazarika, a record of being the most watched funeral ever (just to understand the magnitude, Michael Jackson's memorial service was attended by 17,500)... However, the statistics reveals only a small part of the complete story. What Bhupen mama means to us, the people of Assam in particular, is impossible to explain in words...As a friend was suggesting the other day, perhaps, the closest analogy could be the influence of Rabindranath Tagore on the people of Bengal –

When we received the news of Bhupen mama's demise after a prolonged illness, we were on our way for a hike to a fort near the hill station of Lonavala. Below the starlight sky up atop the fort, as we were chatting and re-living the moments we had shared with the master weaver of words and melody, one of our 'honorary Assamese' friend commented –'right now we are doing something he would have surely approved off... he was so full of life!'

Lust for life, perhaps, will be a phrase that describes Bhupen mama the best... Even in 85 years of age, he would discuss with us about making a film together... And to live till he is 100, to complete his unfinished work...

Remember vividly the day he came to record the title poem of our bi-lingual film, 'as the River flows'/ 'Ekhon nedheka nadir xhipare...' After recording the Assamese version of the poem, initially he was not exactly happy with how his recitation of the Hindi version was shaping up... and like a small child, was requesting us to give him a little more time to prepare...promising, 'soon you will find my Hindi to be even better than that of Raj Kapoor...'

Remember vividly the time when we went to meet him on his last birthday at the ICU of the hospital, where he was undergoing treatment for the past few months. He was too weak even to open his eyes, but when we requested him to come over to our home to have another meal with fish tenga, he nodded with a smile... one promise which he couldn't keep...

Money never featured in Bhupen mama's life. People close to him jokes about Bhupen mama giving his domestic help Rs 50- to get two kg of fish till recently, unmindful of the fact that was the price of fish more than two decades ago... Kamal Kataky, who played guitar with him in his public performances for last three decades besides doubling as his de-facto manager, had narrated an incident when we went to pay our respect to him in Mumbai's Kokilaben Ambani Hospital. About a decade ago, Bhupen mama was invited for performing in a function close to the Indo- Myanmar border, organised by a minister of the Assam government. At the end of the function, the minister handed over some money in an envelope to Kamal Kataky. Kamal kept the envelope with him – only to discover latter that there was only Rs 10,000 in it. The sum was not enough even to cover their vehicle hiring costs. When Bhupen mama got to know of the amount, his first reaction was whether the minister paid them more or less – so clueless he was about financial dealings. And his immediate next reaction was, 'let's consider it to be another free performance that we have done Kamal...we won't discuss about it ever again.'

'Mriyuo tu eta xilpa,

Jibonor kathin xilat kota ek nirllubh bhaskarya!'

This couplet is penned by one of Assam's premier poet, Hiren Bhattacharya. Roughly translated, 'death is also an art, a stark sculpture carved on the hard rock of life...' It would be difficult to find an Assamese youth who has not quoted this couplet sometime during his/her romantic college life. I was no exception... However, I understood the true meanings of the lines only on the night of November 7. I was awake till the wee hours of morning watching TV, looking at the endless emergence of people on the streets of Guwahati. They had come to visit the departed magician, whose body was kept in Guwahati's historic Judges Field for the people to pay their homage... Initially the body was to be kept there for 12 hours before the funeral scheduled for next morning. But, one could have never imagined what was to follow! People from all walks of life came over from across the country (and abroad) to pay their respects...the queue stretched up to 10kms and more, continued throughout the night... the government was forced to push back the funeral by a day...Yet, after more than 36 hours when the body was finally taken out for the last rights, countless number of people were still pouring in to pay their respect to the departing soul of Bhupen mama ...Doubt whether any artists at any corner of the world had experience such a spontaneous outburst of public adoration! At his death, Bhupen mama succeeded in bringing people from all walks of life together, cutting across all man-made boundaries... a dream which he dreamt of throughout his musical life, which was spread over seven decades ...Truly, can there be a greater 'art'??

On the title poem of As the River flows, which has been one of his last works, he spoke as the voice of the river Brahmaputra –

I know

long ago

the River used to speak.

but when he realised

every drop of pain

flows above horizon of words

he surrendered to silence...

as the funeral fire was embracing the body of Bhupen mama, I could almost hear the great River weep, silently... I told him not to. Because, legends never die...they just turn into folklore...