Saturday, September 8, 2018

Bhupen Hazarika was and is the only love of my life: Kalpana Lajmi

The bard of Brahmaputra, as Dr Bhupen Hazarika was known, was a poet, an artist, a musician, a singer, a composer and a social activist. Now, a book titled Bhupen Hazarika — As I Knew Him, written by his closest companion for 40 years, filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi, will aim to take his work of 75 years to a global platform and show a side to him that’s yet unknown to people. The book contains at least 12 of his songs translated in English by Muni Kabir and illustrated by artist Lalitha Lajmi. 
The filmmaker and author, who intends to make a film on Bhupen someday, tells us what she wishes to convey through the book.

The unseen side of Bhupen

Reams have been written about him through which people came to know about him as a poet, an artist, a musician, a singer, a composer, a social activist and a voice of Northeast India. But being his closest companion for four decades, I have tried to portray Bhupen in a different kind of light that people don’t  know about. The side of Bhupen that would let people know of his tremendous intellectual vibrancy, his far-sighted vision, and his unimaginable versatility. And, also the other side where he is seen as courageous yet innocent, unpredictable yet unimaginable, like a sulking child, who needed a lot of pleading and cajoling.

And if I am to talk about our relationship of four decades, then love has to be depicted. He always said that both of us should celebrate our love story because it was a special, unique love that was undefined and would remain undefined in the conservative parameters and construct of society around us. The journey of our lives from youth to age, into various chapters of life, some memories that we cherished and some which we wish to have forgotten but could not. My love story with Bhupen Hazarika did not fall into the seemingly normal behavioural pattern. Bhupen was and is the great, grand and only love of my life.

Putting the book together

While writing the book, with reminiscence of memories of his songs, the idea came in my mind of putting 10 of his remarkable Assamese songs with their transcreation in English language, so that the reader can understand and get to know the unfathomable depth of his poetry on various topics and social issues. And to add to the imagery of some of the songs, I requested my mother Mrs Lalitha Lajmi, who is a painter of eminence, to make the illustrations. Initially, she was afraid because Bhupen’s poems are so esoteric and politically inclined. She has always been a non-political person and has never been to Assam. So, she was scared that the illustrations don’t go wrong. But finally, she did a marvellous job! I would always be thankful to my mother.

Lalitha’s encouraging words

When she came to know of our relationship initially, she was not supportive. But later, her relation with Bhupen was extremely cordial and of mutual respect. In fact, after his demise, she is the one who told me that I must forget all my personal pain of 40 years and give him a dignified farewell that he deserves and close my chapter with him courageously.
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