Monday, November 7, 2011

Tribute to the 'Bard of Brahmaputra ' - Bhupen Hazarika

One of the most important cultural figures of north-east India, Bhupen Hazarika, who died aged 85 on Nov 5th 2011 , used music, cinema and the written word to stitch political ideology and ancient traditions into the fabric of popular culture. His distinguished career as a film-maker, singer, lyricist and political activist spanned 70 years. He won many major awards in India and leaves an impressive body of work that includes more than 1,500 songs.

A prodigious genius he wrote and sang his first song at the age of 10 after which there has been no looking back. An extremely academically prolific person, he did his Inter (Arts) in Guwahati in 1942, and went on to Banaras Hindu University to complete his B. A. in 1944 and his M. A. in Political Science in 1946.

Soon after, he left for New York, USA where he lived for five years and received his doctorate (PhD) in Mass Communication from Columbia University. He also received the Lisle Fellowship from Chicago University, USA to study the use of educational project development through cinema.

Hazarika put Assamese cinema on the map in the decades that followed the initial 1956 hit as a director of the movie Era Bator Sur [Song from the Deserted Path] and in 1992 he was given India's highest film honour, the Dada Saheb Phalke award, for his immense contribution. He was named best composer in India in 1977 for his music for the Assamese film Chameli Memsaab. He was a prolific and popular songwriter; his songs connected with the masses because the lyrics often touched on important social issues or promised a bright future. He received the government awards Padmashree in 1977 and Padma Bhushan in 2001.

Estranged from his first wife and son, Hazarika met Kalpana Lajmi in 1971. He helped her become a critically acclaimed film-maker and delivered songs for her movies, mostly notably the 1993 hit Rudaali (Weeping Woman), for which he won a best music award at the Asia-Pacific film festival. He also composed for television, wrote books and made a name for himself as a poet. He refused to retire and earlier this year sang for the experimental Bollywood movie Gandhi to Hitler.

Tireless energy coupled with a clear motive brought Hazarika to the national stage when he decided to make documentaries on the musical culture of north east. The satellite television was still in the nascent stage but people like Hazarika turned it into a nation binding force via their meaningful documentaries.

Hazarika may not be alive in body but his voice will keep infusing spirit in all those million souls who find culture more important than life , as we mourn the passing of the Bard of the Brahmaputra, in your songs.. we'll keep you alive.

RIP Bhupen Hazarika

No comments:

Post a Comment