GUWAHATI, June 12 � Khagen Mahanta who strode the State�s musical arena like a colossus for several decades passed away at his Nigaji Pam residence this afternoon.
The maestro who delighted generations of music lovers with his haunting numbers such as Kalore paatote kauri pare, Amar man patharar, Parar pakhit gathi dilo, Sonere garhalo, Iman morom iman sapon, Jonti olale tarati olabo, Ma ami sadiyale jamaei, etc., breathed his last around 3.20 pm.
He was 72, and leaves behind his wife Archana Mahanta, son Angarag (Papon) Mahanta � both accomplished singers � and a daughter.
Mahanta who was apparently well during the forenoon suffered a stroke, family members said, adding that his demise came around 3.20 pm.
Credited with enriching Assamese folk music in an unparalleled manner, Mahanta infused a new life into folk songs, including Bihu numbers. He delved deep into the ocean of folk music, rediscovered the musical treasure-trove, and laid it before the audience in his inimitable style. He, in a way, was instrumental in reviving and popularizing folk music in the State. He also excelled in playing in a number of traditional folk muisical instruments including the khol.
An artiste with a strong sense of social responsibility, Mahanta got actively associated with the �Language movement� in 1960 under the leadership of personalities like Bishnu Prasad Rabha, Hemanga Biswas and Jugal Das, and was a member of the group �Harmony.� He lent his golden voice in popularizing human values.
An A-Grade artiste in All India Radio-Guwahati, Mahanta�s first gramophone recorded song was broadcast from Guwahati AIR Station in 1961. He contributed in almost all genres of Assamese music like Lokageet, Akoni Geet, Borgeet, musicals, dramas, etc. He also composed music for three Assamese films, i.e., Meghamukti, Moinajan and Junj (with Ramen Choudhury).
Mahanta who came into contact with Rudra Barua and Keshav Mahanta during the early stage of his career formed a unique and lasting bond with the duo and lent his voice to a number of evergreen lyrics penned by them.
Lyricist and musician Tafazzul Ali�s description best sums up the artistic genius of Mahanta. �Khagen Mahanta�s songs are a confluence of three streams � Sattriya, folk and modern.�
Born to Harendranath Mahanta and Lakshmipriya Devi in Nagaon on August 17, 1942, Mahanta took to the fascinating world of music at an early stage. It was folk music which interested him the most. He did not just build a career out of folk music but served its cause steadfastly throughout his life.
After passing his Matriculation examination fromTezpur in 1947, Mahanta did his graduation from Gauhati University. Earlier, he also had a stint at St Edmund�s College, Shillong, and was actively associated with the cultural life in Shillong. He later served in AIR-Guwahati and retired as Assistant Director in 2001.
Mahanta married Archana Das, noted folk singer and also an actress, in 1973. The duo emerged as a most popular singing couple of the State.
An artiste par excellence, awards and accolades came naturally to him. Notable among those are Sahitya Akademi (1992), Sri Moyee (1994), etc.