MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA NOVEMBER 09, 2011 03 .45 P.M.
Today in the morning Bhupen Da’s mortal remains were consigned to flames . I was watching live telecast of Bhupen Hazarika’s cremation from Guwahati , I was choked with emotions . When his footprints were taken and were shown to grieving millions , I too , sitting in the hall of my apartment , paid my obeisance . Bard of North – East is gone . Ballade singer of mighty Brahmaputra is silenced forever . The greatest icon of Assam is no longer with us .
Guwahati was supposed to bid farewell to Bhupen Hazarika on Tuesday . But his funeral was differed by one more day , so that unending stream of people could pay respect to the departed icon . More than 1 million turned to the Judges Field , where his body was kept in glass casket , to pay respect . There were three km. long serpentine queues of grieving people , willing to stand for hours , for the last darshan of the most famous Indian of Assam . Shops and other business establishments were closed as mark of respect for Bhupen Da . Since buses and other modes of transport were not plying on roads of Guwahati , people walked several km. to reach Judges Field for the last glimpse of Bhupen Da .
All the roads of Guwahati were full of grieving people since Monday morning. His hearse took seven hours to cover 30 km . distance before it could reach his ancestral home from Guwahati airport .
Bhupen Da died on November 05 , 2011 , at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital , Mumbai due to Pneumonia and multiple organ failure. He was 85 years old at the time of his death . His mortal remains were flown to Guwahati on Monday and cremation took place today . Government of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have declared State mourning and closure of offices for the day . Assam government decided to cremate him with full state honours .
Born on September 08 , 1926 in Sadiya , Assam , Bhupen Da sang his first song , “ BISHVO BIJOY NOJAWAN ………….. ” in Jyoti Prasad Agarwala’s film ” Indramalati ” , at the age of 12 in 1939 . He also acted in the film and thus made his debut as a child actor at the age of 12 years .
After completing his intermediate from Cotton College , Assam in 1942 , he went to Benaras Hindu University for Graduation and Post – Graduation . In 1949 , he moved to New York for his PhD and got his degree in 1952 .
While in New York , Bhupen Da became close friends with Afro – American singer and civil rights activist Paul Robesan . Bhupen Da was greatly influenced by Black Pride movement of Robeson and Robeson’s song ” Ole Man River ” made lasting impression on him . And years later Bhupen Da created his own ode to river Ganga ; ” BISTIRNO PARORE “ in Assamese and ” O GANGA BEHTI HO KYON “ in Hindi .
In 1956 Bhupen Da moved to Mumbai to work in IPTA [ Indian Peoples' Theatre Association ] and worked with Balraj Sahni and other Communist comrades.
He produced , directed , gave music and sung for numerous Assamese films like ; ” Era Bator Sur ” [ 1956 ] , ” Mahut Bandhu Re ” [ 1958 ] , ” Shakuntala ” [ 1960 ] , ” Pratishwani ” [ 1964 ] , ” Ka Swariti ” [ 1964 ] , ” Loti Ghoti ” [ 1967 ] , and ” Chick Mick Bijuli ” [ 1971 ] . For ” Shakuntala ” , ” Pratidhwani ” and ” Lotighoti ” , he won National Award also for music .
He directed a colour Documentary, ” For Whom The Sun Shines ” [ 1974 ] on Tribal Folk Music and Dance of Arunachal Pradesh . He also produced , directed and composed music for ” Mera Dharam Meri Maa ” [ 1977 ] , first Hindi colour feature film of Arunachal Pradesh .
He produced and composed music for critically acclaimed Hindi feature film ; ” Ek Pal ” [ 1986 ] , Later on he composed music for films like ; ” Rudali ” [ 1993 ] , ” Darmiyan ” [ 1997 ] , ” Saaz ” [ 1998 ] , ” Gaja Gamini ” [ 2000 ] , ” Daman ” [ 2001 ] and ” Kyon ” [ 2003 ] .
During his earlier years , he edited two magazines in Assamese ; ” Amar Pratinidhi ” and “ Pratidhwani “ .
He was member of Legislative Council of Assam [ MLC ] from 1967 to 1972 and President of Sangeet Natak Academy from 1999 to 2004. He even contested Lok Sabha election on BJP ticket in 2004 .
He got Padma Shree in 1977 , Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 1993 , Padma Bhushan in 2003 and Asom Ratna in 2009 .He was awarded Muktijoddha Padak , Highest Civilian Award of Bangladesh , posthumously in 2011 .
His last song was for the film ” Gandhi To Hitler ” [ 2011 ] , where he sang ” Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye …… ” .
I am extremely fortunate that I met him once . In early 90s , I went to meet Ms. Kalpana Lajmi for some work in her under – production film . There I saw a man , who was looking very similar to Bhupen Da . I said , ” Sir , aap Bhupen Da jaise dikhte hain . ” To my utter shock and amazement that man smiled and said , ” Beta , Main Bhupen Da hi hoon . ” He kept on smiling and looked at me very tenderly . I was petrified . I stood up immediately and prostrated in front of him and touched his feet . I apologized profusely . He simply said , ” koi baat nahin . ” Any other person in his place would have felt offended . But Bhupen Da was kindness personified . I consider myself fortunate that I got his blessings .
He wrote and sang more than 1000 songs . Of all his songs , I like ” SAMAY O DHEERE CHALO … DOOB GAYI RAH KEE NAO …. DOOR HAI PEE KA GAON ” , ” DIL HUM HUM KARE ……… ” , ” DOLA RE DOLA ……. ” , ” MANUSH MANUSHER JANYE ….. ” , ” AAMI EK JAJABOR …… “ and his immortal ode to river Ganga ” O GANGA BEHTI HO KYON ……… ” and its Bengali and Assamese versions ” BISTEERNO DUPARE ……. ” .
You have to listen to his Immortal ode to Ganga to know the impact it created throughout Assam and entire North East region . I am giving below the lyrics :
विस्तार है अपार, प्रजा दोनो पार, करे हाहाकार, निःशब्द सदा, ओ गंगा तुम, ओ गंगा तुम ओ गंगा… बहती हो क्यूँ ..
नैतिकता नष्ट हुई, मानवता भ्रष्ट हुई, निर्लज्ज भाव से बहती हो क्यूँ. . . .
इतिहास की पुकार, करे हुंकार, ओ गंगा की धार, निर्बल जन को सबल संग्रामी, समग्रगामी. . बनाती नही हो क्यूँ. . . .
विस्तार है अपार, प्रजा दोनो पार, करे हाहाकार, निःशब्द सदा, ओ गंगा तुम, ओ गंगा तुम. .. ओ गंगा… बहती हो क्यूँ . ..
अनपढ़ जन अक्षरहीन अनगिन जन खाद्यविहीन निद्रवीन देख मौन हो क्यूँ ?
व्यक्ति रहित व्यक्ति केन्द्रित सकल समाज व्यक्तित्व रहित निष्प्राण समाज को छोडती न क्यूँ ?
रुतस्विनी क्यूँ न रही ? तुम निश्चय चितन नहीं प्राणों में प्रेरणा प्रेरती न क्यूँ ?
उन्मद अवनी कुरुक्षेत्र बनी गंगे जननी नव भारत में भीष्म रूपी सूत समरजयी जनती नहीं
- Much is said about his leftist leanings . If a person is writing odes to Mother Ganga and bemoaning about fate of current India and clamours for the rebirth of a warrior like Bhishma Pitamah , can he be called a leftist ? Bhupen Da was a true nationalist and Communists simply tried to appropriate his legacy but failed . During Chinese attack on India in 1962 , he sang KATO JAWANOR MRITYU HOL …… ( so many soldiers have died ) and bemoaned about shatrur poshuttwo ( barbarity of enemy ) . Can he be called a communist ? No way !
- Even ULFA [ United Liberation Front of Asom ] tried to appropriate him . Bhupen Da sang during Quit India movement ” AGNIJUGOR FIRINGOTI MOI……… ” ( I am a spark in the age of fire … ) . and later on SURYODAY JODI LAKKHYA AMAR , SURYASTOR PINEY DHABOMAN KIYO ……… ( if sunrise is what we seek , then why are we reacting towards sunset ) . Can he be called ULFA sympathiser because rising sun is ULFA symbol ? Then , rising sun is the symbol of Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam also . Does it mean that Bhupen Da was a DMK sympathiser or card – holder ? Utter nonsense .
- In June my wife was admitted in ICU of Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital. Bhupen Da was in the adjacent room. That was the last I saw him .
Farewell Bhupen Da ! Your mortal remains are gone but through your songs and music , you shall always be with us . There shall never be another Bhpen Hazarika ever .
MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA
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