Today marks the 10th death anniversary of Bhupen Hazarika, the bard of Brahmaputra. Popularly called Sudhakantha, Hazarika is one of the revered musicians in the country.
Born on September 8, 1926, in Assam’s Sadiya town, Hazarika was the eldest among his 10 siblings. He was introduced to Assamese folk music by his mother at an early age.
It was no surprise that Hazarika turned out to be a musical prodigy as he was surrounded by music since his childhood days. He created his first original at the age of 13.
He wrote his first song when he was a teenager and attracted the attention of noted Assamese lyricist Jyotiprasad Agarwala and artist Bishnu Prasad Rabha. With professional and artistic guidance, Hazarika’s talent further grew and amassed recognition.
He grew up to be a playback singer, lyricist, musician, poet and filmmaker. His songs are written and sung mainly in the Assamese language by himself.
In 1975, he won the National Film Award for Best Music direction and received many accolades. Later, he went on to win the Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 1987. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 2019.
Hazarika earned his BA degree in 1944 and MA degree in political science in 1946 from the Banaras Hindu University. He received his doctoral degree at Columbia University, New York, United States in 1952, before he pursued his musical career.
During his stay in New York, Hazarika met Paul Robeson, a renowned civil rights activist, whose influence inspired him to compose the famous song Bistirno Parore, based on the imagery and theme of Robeson’s Ol’ Man River which highlighted the rampant racial discrimination in the country. The song became one of the defining moments of Hazarika’s career and is still considered as one of his epical compositions, which has been translated into various Indian languages.
One of his major contributions to Hindi cinema was composing music for well-known films such as Arop, Ek Pal, and Rudaali. He won the Best Music Director National Award for Rudaali in 1993. He held the position of chairman at the Sangeet Natak Akademi from 1998 to 2003.
Hazarika, a Bharat Ratna recipient, passed away on November 5, 2011 at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai due to old age ailments. He was 85.
His funeral was attended by around half a million people near Gauhati University in a plot of land.
Taking to Twitter, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma paid tribute to Bhupen Hazarika today morning.
Union Minister and former Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal also paid rich tributes to the Bharat Ratna Recipient.