Remembering ‘Bard of Brahmaputra’ & Musical Maestro – Dr. Bhupen Hazarika On His 96th Birth Anniversary 

Posted in Assam, Featured, Northeast

  • NET Web Desk

The legendary music maestro and one of the most revered music artists of the country – Dr Bhupen Hazarika is being fondly remembered on his 96th birth anniversary. He is widely recognized for introducing the folk music of Assam and Northeast India to Hindi cinema.

Popularly known as the ‘Bard of Brahmaputra’, Dr. Hazarika was born on September 8, 1926, in the Sadiya town of Assam. He passed away on November 5, 2011.

The Bharat Ratna recipient was born into a family of artists, and was introduced to folk music at a very young age. Turned out to be a musical prodigy, Hazarika created his first original piece of art at the age of 13.

A weaver of music, Hazarika donned many hats, including – a poet, music composer, lyricist, singer, actor, journalist, author and filmmaker. The singer was known for his baritone voice and for making music on themes ranging from romance to social and political commentary.

Popularly known as Sudhakantha (the nightingale), Hazarika is considered to be one of the most celebrated artists of India. His talents were first spotted by noted Assamese lyricist Jyotiprasad Agarwala and artist Bishnu Prasad Rabha.

After receiving early education from high schools of Guwahati, Dhubri and Tezpur, Hazarika then pursued his BA degree in 1944 and MA degree in political science in 1946 from the Benaras Hindu University (BHU). Three years later, he joined the Columbia University, New York, and earned his doctoral degree in 1952.

In New York, Hazarika met Paul Robeson – a prominent civil rights activist, who influenced him to compose the famous song Bistirno Parore which is based on the imagery and theme of Robeson’s Ol’ Man River.

Considered as one of his revered compositions, the song was later translated in various Indian languages.

Later, he turned into a filmmaker and created some of the award-winning Assamese films Shakuntala Sur (1961) and Pratidhwani (1964). Some of his directorial ventures include Lati-Ghati (1966), Chik Mik Bijuli (1969), For Whom the Sun Shines (1974) and Mera Dharam Meri Maa (1976).

Hazarika has been the recipient of Padma Shri (1977); Padma Bhushan (2001); Padma Vibhushan (2016); Dadasaheb Phalke Award(1992); National Award for Best Feature Film in Assamese (1961) and for Best Music Direction for Chameli Memsaab (1975).

He is also the recipient of both the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1987) and the Akademi Fellowship (2008). Hazarika was also honoured with Asom Ratna, Assam’s highest civilian award (2009). In 2019, Bhupen Hazarika received India’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, by President Ram Nath Kovind.

Meanwhile, commemorating his 96th birth anniversary, the search engine Google paid a heartfelt tribute to him via a creative doodle. It shows a colourful and whimsical illustration of the legendary singer on its home page.

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