Bhupenda! A tribute .November 15, 2011
“Moi Eti Jajabor”, that song forever sealed in me a love and immense respect for Dr. Bhupen Hazarika that no amount of time will ever diminish. Much has been said about the legend since his demise and we at Fried Eye are as much grieved as the rest of the world is. Dr. Hazarika was and still is the greatest artist to ever step into the international platter from this part of the world. Neither Kalaguru Bishu Prasad Rabha nor Rupkonwar Jyoti Prasad Agarwala had such an immnse influence on the Assamese mentality in recent times than the maestro and the genius that was Bhupen Hazarika. The tenacity and the zeal of his music was such that it empowered whole nations to rise up and create a revoilution in itself.
Dr. Hazarika was born in Sadiya, Assam on 8th September, 1926. He was a precocious child since birth and started his illustrous singing career at the age of 12 when he rendered his voice in the famous song “Biswa Bijoy No Jawan” in Jyoti Prasad Agarwala’s second Assamese movie “Indramalti”. Thereon there was no stopping for this great son of the soil. He climbed in the ladder of success steadily and with fortitude. Since the 1930s through the 1980s he has sung, composed and directed in numerous Assamese, Bengali and Hindi movies; almost each of which is now a classic. Such is the hallmark of this giant of the music world that every word he has uttered in his songs have become enduring classics that time cannot erase ever.
Dr. Hazarika started completed his school education from the Tezpur Government High School in Tezpur, Assam and then went on to do his Intermediate in Arts from Cotton College in Guwahati, Assam. He then went to Benaras Hindu University where he completed his BA in 1944 and his MA in 1946. It may be mentioned that former Prime Minister of India Chandra Sekhar was his junoir at the University and there they participated in various activities together. Dr. Hazarika after completing his MA in Political Science went to the United States of America where he stayed for 5 years and got a PhD in Mass Communication from the perstigious Columbia University. He thus became the first Assamese to get a degree from Columbia University, USA. Enroute to USA, he had stopped at Paris where he had a strong dsesire to meet Pablo Picasso. It is said that Dr. Hazarika woke up at 4 in the morining and waited eagerly for Picasso to come for his morning walk, and upon meeting him remarked that it had been the most beautiful day of his life.
Returning to India Dr. Hazarika for a few days teached at the then new Gauhati University, but then music was his calling and he could not ignore it for long. He gave up his academic career and began to weave a golden fabric with the soothing tone of his voice. He sang, he acted, he composed and he even directed and produced movies. Genius as they say is not restricted to just one platform, they need newer and newer dimensions to fulfill their life’s calling. This rise in his career also bought him many laurels like the Padmashree from the Govt. Of India, the Dadsaheb Phalke Award, the President’s Award for best music and then the Padma Bhusan from the Govt. Of India. He also became the first Indian music director to feature in the Asia Pacific Music Festival for his songs in the critically aclaimed movie “Rudali”.
Dr. Hazarika has been hailed all over the globe as the last great balladeer of India and as the ‘bard of Brahmaputra’. This great sould left for his heavenly abode on 5th November 2011 at 4:37 pm due to multiple organ failure after a long and ardous battle with life. Even in death Dr. Hazarika had been able to unite all of Assam in a single cause. The massive turnout in Guwahati to view his body and pay the last rites to this departed genius was unprecedented and has been said that the turnout is one of the largest in the world with maybe a million attending it. Never has been and never will be such a huge mourning for one son of Assam. It came as great surprise and a matter of joy when the Bangladesh Govt announced that Dr. Hazarika would be given its highest civillain award. Even in death the voice of Assam has given us something to cherish about. Such was the greatness of the man that prominent news agencies of the wordl like the Washington Post, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal and even the BBC carried obituary reports of the maestro’s death. Dr. Amarjyoti Choudhury, ex VC of GU and present Pro VC of TU has written a wonderful poem “Ata gaan xeh
hol…” for Dr. Hazarika.
Following his songs and lyrics, we can find that Dr. Hazarika unlike the other great artistes was not concerned about one fundamental topic. His concerns were with the masses on everything that he felt was wrong. When he sang “Joy Joy Nobojato Bangladesh…”, he gave an impetus to the newly formed nation and its people; when he sang “Manuhe Manuhor babe…”, he sang not only for the people of Assam but for the whole of humanity; when he sang “Aah Aah Ulai Aah…”, it was a call for the whole nation to join in the revolutionary spirit. The fragnance of the flowers in Hazarika’s gardens will never diminish nor will it ever dry out.
Every song of Bhupen Hazarika has a history behind it, and it there are many anecdotes associated with him. A friend of mine and a contributor to FE, Keshab Anand Pegu aptly summarised it by giving an update in Facebook “Every Assamese has a Bhupen story to tell.” Be it the request from Atal Behari Vajpayee to sing his favourire song or be it the association with the Nepali cap, Bhupen Hazarika’s stories are innumerable to account here. His songs seeped in history as well as personal malice at times will be a guiding light for everyone. When he sand “Modarore Phul Henu…”, it was his anguish speaking on being told that he was not worth much to the society, but that he gave only some entertainment. Time has proved that statement wrong, Dr. Hazarika ranks now among the all time greatest Assamese and it would not be wrong to place him in the same footage as Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva. What Leonardo da Vinci wrote in prison, Bhupen Hazarika showed us through his songs: “If there is no love, then what?”
When he said “moi Volga’r pora Missisipi hoi ….”, he meant it in his life, he was the eternal jajabor (wanderer) going to many places and taking with him his varied compositions for which he is not only immortal but also imperishable. With his death it is as if the leading light of a generation has passed. But shall we always be mourning? No, of course not, the Assamese nation must remember the golden words of the ‘bard’ and work for the upliftment of the society. We shall once again rise up to the occasion and bring glory to one and all. There will never be another Bhupen Hazarika that is for sure, but that doesn’t mean no one has to try to emulate him. Each one of us can carry forward his vision and each one of us must do something in their own capacity to create a lasting tribute to this great man. It now seems apt that the words used by Albert Einstein for Mahatma Gandhi seems to fir Bhupen Hazarika eloquenlty and says more than what anything else will ever say: “Generations to come and generations to go will scarcely belive that such a one as he, ever walked upon this earth in flesh and blood.”
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