Bhupen Hazarika

Bhupen Hazarika
Bhupen Hazarika
Born 8 September 1926(1926-09-08)
Sadiya, Assam, British India
Died 5 November 2011(2011-11-05) (aged 85)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India[1]
Occupation musician, singer, poet, filmmaker and lyricist
Years active 1939–2011
Spouse Priyamvada Patel (separated)
Partner Kalpana Lajmi
Children Tez Bhupen Hazarika
Official website

Bhupen Hazarika (Assamese: ভূপেন হাজৰিকা; 1926 – 2011) was an Indian lyricist, musician, singer, poet and film-maker from Assam. His songs are infused with humanity and universalism, and have been sung in many languages, most notable in Bengali and Hindi besides his native Assamese. Known for writing strong lyrics with themes of communal amity, universal justice and empathy, his songs have become popular among all sections of ethnic and religious communities in Assam, besides West Bengal and Bangladesh. He is acknowledged widely in the Hindi film industry for introducing Hindi film to the sounds and folk music of Assam and Northeast India.



Early life

Hazarika was born on September 8, 1926 to Nilakanta and Shantipriya Hazarika in Sadiya, Assam. The eldest of ten children, Bhupen Hazarika (as also his siblings) was exposed to the musical influence of his mother who exposed him to lullabies and traditional music of Assam. In search of better prospects his father moved to the Bharalumukh region of Guwahati in 1929,[2] where Bhupen Hazarika spent his early childhood. In 1932 his father moved to Dhubri,[3] and in 1935 to Tezpur[4] It was in Tezpur that Bhupen Hazarika, then 10 years of age, was discovered by Jyotiprasad Agarwala and Bishnu Prasad Rabha where he sung a Borgeet taught by his mother at a public function. In 1936 Bhupen Hazarika accompanied them to Kolkata where he recorded his first song at the Aurora Studio for the Selona Company.[5] His association with the icons of Assamese culture at Tezpur was the beginning of his artistic growth and credentials.


He studied at Sonaram High School at Guwahati, Dhubri Government High School[6] and matriculated from Tezpur High School in 1940. He completed his Intermediate Arts from Cotton College in 1942, and went on to Banaras Hindu University to complete his BA (1944) and MA (1946) in Political Science. He won a scholarship from Columbia University and set sail for New York in 1949, where he earned a PhD (1952) on "Proposals for Preparing India's Basic Education to Use Audio-Visual Techniques in Adult Education". He also befriended the legendary Paul Robeson, whose lessons on humanity and universalism were to last Bhupen Hazarika's entire life.[7]

At Columbia University he met Priyamvada Patel, whom he married in 1950. Tez Hazarika, their only child, was born in 1952.[8]

Professional life

After completing his MA he briefly worked at the All India Radio station at Guwahati[9] before embarking for his doctoral studies at Columbia University.

Soon after completing his education, he became a teacher at the Gauhati University.[10]

He was elected the President of the Asam Sahitya Sabha in 1993.[11]

Later life

He met Kalpana Lajmi in the 1980s[12] and they made the film Ek Pal (' at the Internet Movie Database) (1986). Since then Lajmi began managing him professionally and personally till the end of his life.[13][14][15]

He was pursuaded by the Bharatiya Janata Party via Kalpana Lajmi to enter the electoral fray as its candidate in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections from the Guwahati constituency,[16] which he lost to the INC candidate Kirip Chaliha.


Hazarika was hospitalized in the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and Medical Research Institute in Mumbai in 2011.[17][18] He was admitted to the intensive care unit on 30 June 2011. He died of multi-organ failure on 5 November 2011.[19][20][21] His body lay in state at the Judges Fields in Guwahati and cremated on November 9, 2011 near the Brahmaputra river in a plot of land donated by Gauhati University. His funeral was attended by an estimated half a million people.[citation needed]

Artist's biography


A young Bhupen Hazarika was noticed by the doyens of Assamese culture, Jyotiprasad Agarwala and Bishnuprasad Rabha , when he had performed a Borgeet at the age of 10 in Tezpur. Subsequently, Hazarika sang two songs in Agarwala's film Indramalati (1939)[22][23]: Kaxote Kolosi Loi and Biswo Bijoyi Naujawan at the tender age of 12. He wrote his first song, Agnijugor Firingoti Moi at the age of 13[24] and he was well on his way to to becoming a lyricist, composer and singer.

IPTA years

Hazarika began close association with the leftist Indian People's Theatre Association soon after returning from the USA in 1953. [25] and became the secretary of the Reception Committee of the third All Assam Conference of IPTA held in Guwahati in 1955.

Later years

In the period after the release of Ek Pal (1986) till the end of his life Bhupen Hazarika's mainly concentrated on Hindi films, most of which were directed by Kalpana Lajmi. Ek Pal (1986), Rudaali (1993) and Daman (2001) are major films this period. Many of his earlier songs were re-written in Hindi used as played-back songs in these films. These songs tried to cater to the Hindi film milieu and their social activist lyrics were browbeaten into the lowest common denominator.[26]

Legacy and influences

Hazarika (right) with Hartmut König (left) at the Berlin Festival of Political Songs in 1972

As a singer, Hazarika was known for his baritone voice and diction;[27] as a lyricist, he was known for poetic compositions and parables which touched on themes ranging from romance to social and political commentary; and as a composer for his use of folk music.[citation needed] Some of his most famous compositions were adaptations of American black spirituals that he had learned from Paul Robeson, whom he had befriended during his years in New York City in the early 1950s.[28]

Awards and honors

  • Award for the Best Regional Film (Chameli Memsaab; music by Bhupen Hazarika) in the 23rd National Film Awards (1975)[29]
  • Padma Shri - the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India (1977)
  • Gold medal from the State Government of Arunachal Pradesh for "outstanding contribution towards tribal welfare, and uplift of tribal culture through cinema and music." (1979)[30]
  • All India Critic Association Award for best performing folk artist (1979)
  • In 1979 and 1980 he won the Ritwik Ghatak Award as best music director for two theatre plays, Mohua Sundari, and Nagini Kanyar Kahini
  • Bengal Journalist's Association Indira Gandhi Smriti Puraskar in (1987)
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1987)
  • Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1992)
  • First Indian to win Best Music for the film Rudaali at the Asia Pacific International Film Festival in Japan (1993)
  • Padma Bhushan - the third highest civilian award in the Republic of India (2001)
  • Honorary Degree from Tezpur University (2001)
  • 10th Kalakar Award for Lifetime Achievement in the year 2002, Kolkata.
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship (2008)
  • Asom Ratna - the highest civilian award in the State of Assam, India (2009)
  • In February 2009, the All Assam Students Union erected a life size statue of Hazarika on the banks of Digholi Pukhuri in Guwahati.[31]


Year Film Credited as
Playback singer Composer Director Producer Writer Actor
1939 Indramalati Yes
1948 Siraj Yes
1955 Pioli Phukan Yes
1956 Era Bator Sur Yes Yes
1958 Mahut Bandhu Re Yes
1961 Shakuntala Sur Yes Yes
1964 Pratidhwani Yes
1964 Ka Swariti Yes
1966 Lati-Ghati Yes
1969 Chik Mik Bijuli Yes
1973 Titash Ekti Nadir Naam Yes
1973 Aarop Yes
1974 For Whom the Sun Shines Yes
1975 Chameli Memsaab Yes Yes
1976 Roop Konwar Jyoti Parsad Aru Joymoti Yes
1976 Mera Dharam Meri Maa Yes Yes
1977 Through Melody and Rhythm Yes
1977 Shimana Perye Yes
1979 Mon-Prajapati Yes
1979 Debdas Yes
1982 Aparoopa Yes
1986 Swikarokti Yes
1986 Ek Pal Yes Yes Yes Yes
1988 Siraj Yes Yes
1993 Rudaali Yes Yes
1993 Pratimurti Yes
1997 Do Rahain Yes
1997 Darmiyaan: In Between Yes Yes
1998 Saaz Yes
2000 Gaja Gamini Yes Yes
2001 Daman: A Victim of Marital Violence Yes Yes
2003 Kyon? Yes
2006 Chingaari Yes Yes
2011 Gandhi to Hitler Yes


  1. ^ "Acclaimed singer Bhupen Hazarika dies at 85". CNN-IBN. 5 November 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Sushanta Talukdar, Brahmaputra Balladeer, The Hindu, November 10, 2011
  8. ^ Asjad Nazir, Bhupen Hazarika obituary, The Guardian, November 6, 2011
  9. ^ Asjad Nazir, Bhupen Hazarika obituary, The Guardian, November 6, 2011
  10. ^ Sushanta Talukdar, Brahmaputra Balladeer, The Hindu, November 10, 2011
  11. ^ "Presidents of Asam Sahitya Sabha since 1917". Asam Sahitya Sabha. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  12. ^ Hemendra Prasad Barooah, Fond memories of a schoolmate, The Telegraph, Nov 9, 2011
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Chandan Mitra, The boatman's missing melody, The Pioneer, November 12, 2011
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Music Legend Bhupen Hazarika passes away". Bollywood Life. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  20. ^ "Bhupen Hazarika is no more.". Indiavision news. 5 November 2011. 
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Sushanta Talukdar, Brahmaputra Balladeer, The Hindu, November 10, 2011
  25. ^ Sushanta Talukdar, Brahmaputra Balladeer, The Hindu, November 10, 2011
  26. ^ Debraj Mookerjee, Bhupen Da done in by the popular, The Pioneer, November 12, 2011
  27. ^ "Eastern Fare News International obituary for Hazarika". 8 September 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-05. 
  28. ^ "Dr. Bhupen Hazarika official biography". Retrieved 2011-11-06. 
  29. ^ "NFA archives". Directorate of Film Festivals. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  30. ^ "Arunachal Pradesh mourns Hazarika's death". The Hindu. 2011-11-06. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 
  31. ^ "Hazarika's statue unveiled". The Hindu Group. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 

External links


Some relevant photographs
People outside Hazarika's home on 7 November 2011
People outside Hazarika's home on 7 November 2011  
Hazarika lying in repose in Judge field, Guwahati. Nov. 8 2011
Hazarika lying in repose in Judge field, Guwahati. Nov. 8 2011  
Hazarika lying in repose in Judge field, Guwahati
Hazarika lying in repose in Judge field, Guwahati. Nov. 8 2011  

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