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Thu, 12 Dec 2019

Northeast Today

A Panegyric to the Heaven’s Own Nightingale

A Panegyric to the Heaven’s Own Nightingale
April 03
13:07 2019

NET Bureau

Mere words are never enough to grasp the colossal void that the death of Dipali Barthakur, Nightingale of Assam, has left behind. However, her works will stay timeless and will forever continue to inspire many generations to come. Amlan Jyoti Das pens down a few words in memory of the late singer…

First Words

The saddest part about the death of a certain prominent singer is always the fact that most of the modern populace is clueless about the songs that are played on repeat mode in any of the local regional channels. However, it is not so for ‘Nightingale of Assam’ Dipali Borthakur who needs no introduction as her talents speak for itself and in volumes as well.

The songs “Sonor Kharu Nalage Muk”, “Joubone Aamoni Kore, Chenaidhon”, “Jundhone Junalite”, “Konmana Boroxire Sip” etc resonates deeply even with the techno-savvy mundane of Gen Z. The Assamese singer Dipali Barthakur, who had inspired music maestro Bhupen Hazarika to strive to fill the void left by her, passed away after a prolonged illness towards the end of 2018.

“Her songs paint a picture of the Assamese culture and lifestyle with words,” says Pubali Das, an avid lover of Dipali Baideu’s music and a notable singer herself.

When asked about the difference seen in the lyrics of today, she says “One can clearly see the amount of hard work and emotion Dipali Borthakur puts in a single composition by the way it makes you feel.”

Dipali Borthakur

Time Wrap

Dipali Barthakur was born to Bishwanath Borthakur and Chandrakanti Devi in Sonari at Sivasagar district (present Charaideo District) of Assam on January 30, 1941. She was raised by her maternal uncle as she lost her father when she was a little child. At a very tender age, this child prodigy was introduced to the world of music through moina mel— a forum for the young minds. A musical ambience was created at her home under the tutelage of her brother Bhaben Borthakur, which helped her immensely in unleashing her inner creative potential.

The effect of her euphonic voice garnered widespread attention and invitation to perform in various shows started flooding in for this child artiste. She began her career as a singer when she was in Class IX in 1958. She sang “Mor Bopai Lahori” on All India Radio, Guwahati and the song “Joubone Amoni Kore Chenaidhon” for the film Lachit Borphukan (1959). Some of her other works “Senai Moi Jau Dei”, “Samay Pale Amar Phale Ebar Ahi Jaba” moved the hearts of millions. Her determined and uncompromising pursuit for this craft gave her an opportunity to sing for All India Radio’s Kolkata station in 1961. She became a singing wonder as her voice started to infuse in every nook and cranny of the populace of Assam and ruled the musical domain with her panache in singing and idiosyncratic voice.

Dipali Barthakur has been honoured many times, most notably with the Padma Shri for folk and traditional music in 1998. She was also honoured with the best singer of Sangeet Natak Academy while she was pursuing her school education. She won the Shilpi Bota in 2010 from the Government of Assam and Aideu Handique Silpi Award in 2012 by the Sodou Assam Lekhika Somaroh Samiti.

In 1969, Dr Hazarika penned ‘Xitore Xemeka Raati…’ as an ode to an “eternal song of a now voiceless, mesmerising singer that heralds in many a morning”. The iconic singer sang her last song ‘Luito Nejabi Boi’ in the year 1969.

In Conclusion

However misfortune did strike this mellifluous singer as she suffered from an incurable malady -chronic motor neuron- and her health condition started deteriorating since 1968. But then this music virtuoso tied the nuptial knot with Neel Pawan Baruah, a painter and Lalit Kala Akademi member, giving rise to one of the most adored couples of Assam. Theirs is an example of what unconditional love is. The couple embodies the ultimate union of sight and sound, each carving out a niche for themselves in their own respective fields and their relationship was often likened to that of English poets Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Baruah tends to his bedridden wife from dusk till dawn helping her in all the basic functions of daily life, right from brushing her to bathing her fragile body and even till braiding her hair.

The Padma Shree awardee drew her last breath on December 21, 2018, at 1.25 pm in a private hospital. Her demise leaves behind a confluence of music cum cultural void that will never be filled in. However, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted “….Her melodious songs will continue to enthral generations to come….,” her unique and unparallel singing style will continue to resonate in the hearts and minds of a plethora of aspirants.


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