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An Arunachali pays tribute to Bhupenda

By Gijum Tali

The greatest cultural icon of North East India and one of the most versatile genius in musical arena and cultural Ambassador of India, Dr Bhupen Hazarika, popularly known as BhupenDa is no more with us. The last of the great balladeer breathed his last after battling for life for the last four months. He was a multi-faceted genius, a poet, music composer, singer, journalist, actor, author, film-maker, scholar of the highest order and was closely associated and immensely contributed to Indian music and film industry for seventy long years.

It is an irreparable loss to us as he was the lone crusader to propagate better cinema movement and has integrated all the seven Northeastern States and tribal culture through the medium of cinema. As a shock wave sweeps across the country, the most affected are the older genre of people who celebrate his flawlessly scripted songs of many moods. BhupenDa is inseparable from growth and development of Assamese music which received his magic touch. He also popularised it relentlessly abroad. The prestigious Sankardev Award, Dada Saheb Phalke Award, Padma Shree and Padma Bhushan speaks volumes about his contribution to Indian music and cinema.

To him, song, drama and music was not meant only for listeners� delight and entertainment but carried more meaningful bearings like unity, brotherhood and oneness among the people of North- eastern region. He used to say, �I have never composed any song without any meaning�. If his song �Oh Bideshi Bondhu Durbhogiya� makes him the Cultural Ambassador, �Manuhe Manuhor Babe� translated into foreign languages is an effort on social reconstruction. �Biswa bijoy na-jawan�, which he sang as a child prodigy to �Koto Jawanor Mrityu hol�, he composed and sang after Indo-China War of 1962, filled everyone with the fire of patriotism.

He also produced a 18-part documentary entitled �Glimpses of the Misty North East� on the socio-economic and cultural progress in Northeastern India from 1947 to 1997, assigned to him by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for celebration of Fifty Years of India�s Independence.

The legend was deeply influenced by the land, environment and people of Arunachal Pradesh and set his foot on Arunachal soil in the early seventies to write and compose masterpieces with social and cultural consciousness and won the heart of the tribal people here. He produced, directed and composed music for Arunachal and his first Hindi feature film in colour �Mera Dharam Meri Maa� in 1977 was simply inspiring. He also directed a colour documentary film on tribal folk songs entitled �For Whom the Sun Shines� in 1974. Siangore Gallong, Lohitore Khamti, Tirap Ore Wangchu, Apatani Bhoniti Mok Kiyo Maatise, and above all most popular and celebrated song �Suraj ka Kiran�, �Sirij Ka Bhushan Prabhat Surya Sumvit Desh Hamara Arunachal� are wonderful musical works of the legend. This popular song has been translated in all major dialects of Arunachal and can be hailed as the State song of Arunachal.

Though he is no more with us, his songs will linger for years to come and he will live in the hearts of Arunachalees. As Arunachalees, we cannot forget his immense contributions as pioneer of music and film development in our State. It is ironical that we have not been able to recognise him in a befitting manner as the best interpreter of folk music of Eastern India particularly of Arunachal in the map of world folk music. His demise signals an end of a musical era and at this hour of crisis, Arunachalees have only tears to wet his coffin and prayers to give peace, tranquility and solace to his departed soul and bereaved family members.

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