Legendary singer Dr Bhupen Hazarika has had many tributes paid to his art, but none surely as unique as what was produced one afternoon on the banks of the Dighalipukhuri, in the heart of Guwahati, to mark Dr Hazarika's 86th birthday on September 8.
Though the famous singer could not be present as he is recovering from an illness in Mumbai, several onlookers gathered to watch in awe as Apuraj Barooah scratched with an ordinary shaving blade on a piece of bromide paper, his depiction of one of the most popular songs of Dr Hazarika -- Moi Bicharichu Hazar Chakut Dipta Surujar Sikha.
Barooah, who is in the Guinness Book of World Records, took just 20 minutes to complete the unique piece of bromide scratch art.
"I want to create a series of depictions of Bhupen Hazarika's songs as well as evergreen numbers of another revered Assamese singer, Dipalee Borthakur," Barooah said, giving finishing touches to a depiction of Dipalee Borthakur's Sonar Kharu Nelage Muk.
On July 9, 2011, the Guinness authorities recognised Apuraj Barooah as the world record holder for the Longest Scratch Art done on bromide measuring 20.30 m in length and 1.04 metre in width.
He scratched with a shaving blade (his only tool) 40 pictures of folk dances of many parts of the world -- India, the UK, the US, Spain, Italy, China, Australia, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, France and Thailand.
Barooah left his cushy job as a government employee to pursue his passion of giving life to pieces of unattractive looking black bromide paper. A great one for experimenting, Barooah said it was sheer inquisitiveness that prompted him to pick up a piece of bromide paper lying on the floor in a photo studio about 18 years ago in his hometown of Dibrugarh in eastern Assam.
He took the paper home and experimented by drawing on it. And thus began an innovative journey that won him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
One has to see him work to understand how it is possible to create portraits and other art forms on bromide paper using only a shaving blade, and bringing out red, yellow and white colours. "When you strike soft on bromide paper with the blade, you will see a red stroke appearing on it.
Strike a bit harder and you get yellow, harder still and you get white," the artist explains. Truly, these are very different strokes.