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.