The lingering tone of ‘Dil Hoom Hoom Kare’ song the 1990 film ‘Rudaali’ is hailed as a classic. The song captured the essence of the entire film beautifully and was able to move the audience to tears. The song was composed by Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, who also lent his captivating voice to the duet.
Bhupen Hazarika was a man of many talents. Although primarily known as a playback singer, Bhupen Hazarika was an epitome of cultural flourish. Being a noted lyricist, musician, singer, poet and film-makerm in fact, it won’t be wrong to portray Mr. Hazarika as one of the first people to pioneer the socio-economic growth of the northeast. His 18 part documentary Glimpses of the Misty East about the socio-economic and cultural progress of North East India from 1947 to 1997 bears testimony to it.
On the occasion of the maestro’s 92nd birthday, we take this opportunity to enumerate certain interesting and unknown facts about Bhupen Hazarika, whose song ‘Ganga bhehti ho kyun’ still evokes the theme of a failed tryst with destiny that India is today.
1. Born in 1926, in Sadiya Assam, Bhupen Hazarika at 10, sang his first song
Thereafter at the age of 12, this child prodigy got an offer to playback for two songs in noted Assamese lyricist, playwright and filmmaker Agarwala’s film ‘Indramalati’ (1939). The songs were ‘Kaxote Kolosi Loi’ and ‘Biswo Bijoyi Naujawan’. This followed his first song, ‘Agnijugor Firingoti Moi’, which he wrote and composed at the age of 13!
2. Bhupen Hazarika was the eldest among ten siblings
The little Hazarika was initiated into the world of music by his mother, who first exposed him and his siblings to the traditional lullabies and the folk music of Assam.
3. The noted musician was also a bright student
Having successfully completing his Intermediate in Arts from Guwahati’s Cotton College in 1942, Hazarika went on to complete his B.A. and M.A. from Benaras Hindu University in 1944 and 1946 respectively. It was in 1954 he did his PhD from Columbia University, New York. His doctorate thesis was on ‘Proposals for Preparing India’s Basic Education to use Audio-Visual Techniques in Adult Education’.
4. On his return to India from USA in 1953, Bhupen Hazarika became closely associated with the famous leftist cultural organization ‘Indian People’s Theatre Association’ (IPTA) .
Having been associated with the organization for around two years, he was made Secretary of the Reception Committee for the Third All Assam Conference of IPTA, held in Guwahati in 1955.
5. With time, Hazarika became a pioneer of Assamese folk songs.
But what made his songs different than all is that all of them revolved around themes of communal amity, universal justice and empathy, something which did not fail to strike a chord with the most common people of the country. Needless to say, he became a revered figure not just in Assam but also in West Bengal and Bangladesh as well.
6. Hazarika had also briefly worked with the All India Radio.
This was for a brief period of time, before embarking on his journey to New York to pursue his doctoral program from Columbia University.
7. In New York, Hazarika was greatly influenced by civil rights activist Paul Robeson.
It is said that his famous song ‘Ganga bhehti ho kyun’, which is regarded as Hazarika’s most soulful and beautiful song, was inspired by the imagery and theme of Robeson’s song ‘Ol’ Man’s River’.
8. This evergreen composer from was a trend-setter in West Bengal
Noted Bengali composer and singer Kabir Suman’s genre jwalamukhi geet is known to have been inspired by the songs of Hazarika.
9. Hazarika was also a noted filmmaker, who made award-winning Assamese classics ‘Shakuntala’ and ‘Pratidhwani’
Hazarika also lent his voice to numerous noted Bollywood films, most of which were directed by Kalpana Lajmi, such as ‘Rudaali’ (1993), ‘Mil Gayee Manzil Mujhe’ (1996), Saaz (1997), ‘Darmiyaan’ (1997), ‘Gajagamini’ (1998), ‘Daman’ (2000), ‘Kyon’ (2003).
10. Bhupen Hazarika was conferred with the Padma Bhushan and Dada Saheb Phalke Award
He won the President’s National Award as the best filmmaker thrice in 1960, 1964 and 1967. Later on, in 1977, he received the National Award as best music composer for the Assamese film ‘Chameli Memsaab’. He was awarded the Padmashree in the same year. In 1992, he was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for lifetime achievement in cinema. In 2001, he was honored by the Government of India with the Padma Bhushan.
11. The noted singer passed away on 5 November, 2011.
The great singer, after a brief illness died at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and Medical Research Institute on November 5, 2011. He was cremated in Assam on November 9, 2011, near the Brahmaputra river in a plot of land donated by Gauhati University. His funeral was attended by as many as half a million people.