Bhupen da on his last outdoor film shoot
An account by Chuman Das ,
Partner Ideas Inc
5am was the call time. As I reluctantly got out of my bed and drew back the curtain, I saw a man sitting on an old fashioned arm chair taking in deep breaths. I slipped out of my room to see Bhupen da lost in his world breathing in deeply as if almost tasting each breadth he took.
I walked upto him slowly, not wanting to impose on him. As if sensing an intrusion, Bhupen da slowly opened his eyes and looked at me. Smiling he queried. “Do you sniff the air and feel the lingering feeling that this is Assam?” I looked at him in confusion. We were in a remote motel in the outskirts of Satara in Maharashtra. The landscape was dry, barren and brown. Each tree looked naked with no leaves to cover her on top nor any foliage to sheath her below. But in the stillness of the air, the cooing of some birds, the absence of any vehicular noise and perhaps away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Bhupen da had found his little corner of Assam, while shooting for a film called Chingari, directed by Kalpana Lajmi.
Very soon, sounds of early morning activities gathered momentum and our brief moment of solitude was over. I too started getting ready for the business that I had come for. As an entertainment reporter for NDTV, I was on an exclusive shoot of the film which featured Sushmita Sen and Mithun Chakraborty. Leaving Bhupen da in the hotel, we all headed for the shoot.
Mithun da had to shoot in the evening and so he decided to treat Bhupen da and me to some home food, cooked by him no less. Mithun da runs two very successful hotels in Ooty and Coimbatore and like most men from the East of India, is pretty adept in the kitchen. So he decided to cook dal and chicken curry for us. Violent protests erupted from me and Bhupen da. With a Bengali cook, we wanted fish and nothing else.
Mithun da, the true sport that he is, arranged for some sardines or what is locally called Bangda. The favourite river water fish, Rohu was obviously not available in Satara. Shooting was wrapped up early so that we could al feast on Mithun da’s cooking.
The chef was hard at work, having grounded the spices himself. We sat on the table, Kalpana, Sushmita, Bhupen da and me. We were served by Mithun da. We dug in, and dug in fast. Very soon, only the cadavers remained. And while ordinary people like us, thanked him with our words and smiles, Bhupen da’s appreciation came in a form that he knows best and expresses even better. The songster, popularly called the Bard of Brahmaputra, sang out in his rich baritone words of gratitude.
What I shot to showcase the film was telecast on television, but what I saw remained etched in my little heart… A man who kept trying to find his Asaam in varied and distant places, and a man who could find music to express his simplest of gestures…Dr Bhupen Hazarika, a man I personally knew and shared some special moments.
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