Revisiting Bhupen Hazarika's Best Works
Filmmaker and friend, Mahesh Bhatt described the legend of Bhupen Hazarika best, "He was a giant among giant." A man of many talents, of all things Hazarika leaves behind an enduring musical legacy that will motivate young musicians to look 'within', into their own experiences, culture and homeland.
The late master brought North-Eastern folk music to national prominence and other than music, his preoccupation with politics (although the people of Assam rejected him politically), his concerns for the Assamese culture, cinema and words (he was a filmmaker, journalist and poet) and his reformist thoughts gave him an extra edge. However, it is for his music that Hazarika shall be fondly remembered and missed. A look at some of his best works:
Some films are nothing without their music. Kalpana Lajmi's Rudaali, set in lower caste Rajasthan, is a classic example.
Hazarika's soulful compositions (Dil Hoom Hoom Kare, Jhoothi Mooti Mitwa and Samay O Dheere Chalo), derived from the overflowing reserves of folk music, make Rudaali a first-rate musical achievement.
Image: A still from Rudaali
This is a film based on music and director Sai Paranjpye wisely teamed Hazarika with tabla maestro Zakir Hussain to create a phenomenal soundtrack.
Image: A still from Saaz
With Kaifi Azmi and Gulzar's words at his disposal, Hazarika created a balance of melancholia and meditation with Ek Pal, directed by his long-time companion Kalpana Lajmi.
More than anything, he used Bhupinder's voice with great mastery.
Image: A Ek Pal movie poster
Ganga Behti Ho Kyon
One of the most inspiring hymns, this was Hazarika's own version of Paul Robeson's number Ol' Man River.
Hazarika's ode to Brahmaputra and Ganges is as powerful and poignant as Robeson's tribute to the Mississippi.
Hazarika rendered this song in Bengali and Assamese, too, so that he could reach out to as many listeners as possible.
Image: Bhupen Hazarika
Main Aur Mera Saaya
Another fabulous collaboration between Gulzar and Hazarika, this album features songs ranging from the soulful to pensive.
Hazarika's deep voice brings Gulzar's poetry alive.
Incidentally, most of Hazarika's Hindi works were directly translated from Assamese. In that sense, Assamese was his preferred language.
Image: A Main Aur Mera Saaya album cover
A purist's delight, this Assamese film may not be known to those hipped on Bollywood but it certainly is Hazarika's tour de force.
Songs like Asom Deshor Bagisare and O Bideshi Bandhu have achieved cult status.
Image: A Sameli Memsaab movie poster
A seminal work, this 1939 Assamese film contains some of Hazarika's most powerful music proving his prodigious talent.
He was only 13 when he sang songs like Biswa Bijoyee Navajowan and Amai Ekjon Sada Manush for this film.
Image: A still from Indramalati
Aami Ek Jajobar
Experts say Hazarika's finest works can be found in Assamese and Bengali. It is little wonder that Bengal and Assam have plunged into gloom after his death, with people in mourning everywhere.
Aami Ek Jajobar sees Hazarika at the top of his game, with songs like He Dola He Dola and Aami Ek Jajobar which have slipped into the classic category.
Image: Bhuoen Hazarika