Musical genius

The death of Bhupen Hazarika has brought to an end a great and extraordinary musical career which has bewitched countless people spanning generations. He was an icon in his native Assam and the North-East and in Bangladesh but his music went beyond these geographical boundaries and appealed to hearts all over the country and outside. Music is not limited by language and Hazarika was heard, known and worshipped everywhere.

The desire of tens of thousands of people to pay respects to him  and attend his funeral was a sign of his popularity with the masses. Such a big and spontaneous show of affection for a  person is rarely seen. Everyone who wanted to have a last glimpse of him and others who could not do so would only thank him for having enriched their lives with some of the most beautiful melodies heard in the last few decades.

Hazarika’s music had in full the simplest and most elemental quality of effortless communication with the people and  the ability to convey the abiding joys and sorrows of life which he sang about. He considered himself to be a ‘wanderer’ and a roving minstrel in the tradition of balladeers. He was inspired by the folk heritage in Assam, and some of the best songs that he sang drew their life from it. He realised instinctively the power of sound to transform the mind.

Through eight decades and over 1,500 captivating songs Hazarika remained an unchallenged master of the world of music, extending from the world of Assamese films to the big universe of Bollywood. He was not only an entertainer par excellence but also rendered an intellectual and philosophical dimension to his music as great artistes do. There was an implicit humanism which marked his music and endeared him and his songs to everyone.

Hazarika was not just a singer. He was a multifaceted genius and was also a poet, lyricist, actor, film maker and journalist. He was a leader of culture and a writer who responded with understanding and wisdom to many contemporary events. He has won all the honours  that a great artiste might get in his life time but the greatest honour remains the unbounded love and affection that his fans and admirers have bestowed on him and would continue to give to the legacy he has left behind.

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