Guwahati: Bhupen Hazarika, a name, a voice, an inspiration to reckon, whose popularity was not only limited to Assam, but oversees as well. Today, on 8th September, we mark the 95th birth anniversary of the ‘Bard of Assam’, Bharat Ratna, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika.
Known for his evergreen songs like “Dil hoom hoom kare’ and ‘ O Ganga behti ho kyun’, Bhupen Hazarika had the power to weave his magic and enthrall audience far beyond the floodplains of Assam.
On January 25, President Ram Nath Kovind conferred the Bharat Ratna upon him.
In his illustrious career, Hazarika doned many hats from being a poet, music composer, singer, actor, journalist, author and filmmaker.
The self-proclaimed jajabor (wanderer) took the rich folk heritage of Assam and interpreted it beautifully for the world through his songs.
Bhupen Hazarika was born in 1926 in the small town of Sadiya in Assam’s Tinsukia district. He was born into a family of teachers. Hazarika completed his early education from Guwahati in 1942.
Later he shifted to Varanasi and enrolled for an undergraduate course in the Banaras Hindu University.
In the years to come, he attended Columbia University from where he completed his PhD in Mass Communication.
It is during his stay in the United State of America that he met the legendary black singer Paul Robeson, whose famous number Old man river was successfully transformed to the megahit Bistirno parore (O Ganga behti ho in Hindi), a virtual anthem for generations of pro-Left activists.
He composed and sang songs that are marked by themes of humanity and universal brotherhood. 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.
While studying at Columbia University, Hazarika met Priyamvada Patel and they got married in 1950. He died in Mumbai on November 5, 2011, and was cremated near the Brahmaputra river in a plot of land donated by the Gauhati University. His funeral was attended by an estimated half a million people.