Bhupen Hazarika turns 85, celebrates with friends in Mumbai

Though a number of functions were organised across Assam to mark the occasion, the Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner could not come to his home state because of his health. Hazarika's long-time associate Kamal Kataki said more than 350 functions were organised in Assam in honour of the balladeer, who composes his own lyrics and music.

"Bhupen da is celebrating his birthday with family members and close friends in Mumbai. His doctors have also been invited," Kataki told PTI. The day is being celebrated in the state as the 'Day of Music of the Masses'. In Guwahati, 'Heritage Northeast' was organised in which veteran artistes including Khagen Mahanta, Archana Mahanta, Pulok Banerjee and others participated.

"The Assam government organised a cultural programme at Rabindra Bhawan. All television channels and FM stations are running special programmes to mark the day," Kataki said. Hazarika wrote and sang his first song at the age of 10 and since then there has been no looking back.

Hazarika has been a poet, journalist, singer, lyricist, musician, filmmaker, writer and politician. Earlier this year, he sung the title poem of the bilingual film "As the River Flows" and also featured in the 'Phir mile sur'.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who is in New Delhi after undergoing a bypass surgery in Mumbai, extended his wishes to Hazarika. "Dr Hazarika has established the state's unique culture through his music in the global arena and his creations will always be a source of endless inspiration for the people of the state," Gogoi said in a letter.

Hazarika was born in 1926 in Sadiya. After his Inter (Arts) in Guwahati in 1942, he went to BHU and completed his BA in 1944 and MA in Political Science in 1946. Soon after, he left for the US where he lived for five years and received his doctorate (PhD) in Mass Communication from Columbia University.

He also received the Lisle Fellowship from Chicago University to study the use of cinema as a tool of education. He met Paul Robson in the US and became closely associated him. Robson's 'Old man river' inspired Hazarika to compose his famous song 'Ganga'.

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