Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bhupenda and Silchar - A Tribute to the Legend

Dr. Bhupen Hazarika (1926-2011)
The recent demise of music maestro Bhupen Hazarika witnessed a spontaneous outpouring of emotions across all parts of Assam. Almost half a million fans attended his cremation at the Gauhati University campus creating an environment hardly seen before anywhere in the country.

When a part of his ashes were brought to Silchar, thousands thronged to pay their final tribute and joined the procession when his remains were immersed in the Barak. Bhupenda, as he was fondly called, was probably the only literary figure of Assam who could conveniently bridge the divide between the Barak and the Brahmaputra valleys.

Besides his mother tongue Assamese, he wrote, composed and sang innumerable songs in Bengali which gave him huge popularity in Barak Valley.  Hazarika’s classics such as ‘Manush manusher jonno’, ‘Ami ek jajabor’ etc are sung fondly by all Bengalis across the world.

However, language was not the only reason for the balladeer’s popularity in Barak Valley. He shared a deep association with the valley and visited Silchar and the other towns many times. His association with this region dates back to his days with the left wing Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA).

Hazarika had also strongly condemned the May 19th, 1961 killing of 11 language martyrs near the railway station in Tarapur.  According to many of his close associates, he also enjoyed travelling by the picturesque Lumding – Badarpur hill railway.

The maestro had visited Silchar for the last time in December 1999 to participate in a music conference in which many other stalwarts such as Purna Das Baul, Runa Laila, Lopamudra Mitra and others had performed.  His performance at the open stage at Police Parade ground was attended by thousands of fans, who braved the winter chill and waited for his performance till late night.

Ten years later, in 2009, Assam University, Silchar conferred him with an honorary D Litt degree during its 10th convocation ceremony. However, due to failing health, Hazarika could not attend the function.   

Though a very proud Assamese, who took great pride in writing, composing, singing and making movies in his mother tongue, Hazarika was truly a global citizen. Legends like him are never bound by linguistic or cultural boundaries. They always preach the lesson of love, amity and brotherhood. Let us hope that we realise his philosophy at least now when he has left us for his heavenly abode!

Manush manusher jonno
jibon jiboner jonno
ektu shohanubhuti ki
manush pete parena
o bondhu ||

Manush jodi she na hoy na manush
danob kokhono hoyna manush
shei danob kokhono ba hoy manush
lojja ki tumi pabena
o bondhu ||


  1. Some of the Assamese songs sung by Bhupenda were actually translated in Bengali by Shibdas Bandopadhyay and some of the lyrics written by Shri Bandopadhyay in Bengali were translated in Assamese by Bhupenda himself.Both of those versions got immensely popular.Most of the Assamese people would not admit that his Calcutta connection was the main reason for his All India fame.When he shifted his base to Calcutta, he invited lot of criticism.Even during his stay at GNRC, Guwahati a couple of years ago, very few people visited him at GNRC.During his funeral procession, one line of a famous Bengali song, first sung by Angurbala Devi, then by Santosh Sen Gupta and Dr. Anup Ghoshal came to my mind.It was "Jeebone Jaare Tumi Daao Ni Mala, Morone Keno Taare Dite Ele Phool?"

  2. @Anonymous: Thank you for the additional information regarding the translation of his songs.


Silchar through the Lense