News & Information From Northeast India

Bhupen Hazarika’s birth anniversary: When I got a chance to work with the legend

As we are celebrating the birthday of the legend Bhupen Hazarika, could not help sharing the memorable experience we had in him company during the making of #EkhonNedekhaNadirXipare from an old post of my blog…

Bhupen Hazarika. The rest of the world knows him mostly for his songs like ‘Ganga behti ho kyon’ and of course, ‘Dil hum hum kare’. But for us who grew up in Assam or Bengal – especially those who were born in 1990 and for some sixty years before it – he is much, much more. For us he is not just a poet, filmmaker, composer or a singer… He is a symbol of our collective reminiscence…

Ask us to describe a beautiful spring morning or an autumn evening, the first thing that will come to our mind is a stanza of Dr Bhupen Hazarika’s song. Ask us describe the stormy monsoon night, the answer will be the same. If we need to give word to our first love, generally we don’t look beyond him. Looking for some shooting balm after a heart-break? Just put on a Bhupen Hazarika song! Feeling really depressed? There is a good chance that a song of Dr Hazarika may give you the much needed boost… the list would be really long…

It would have been surprising if somebody like me would not have dreamt of using Dr Bhupen Hazarika’s voice when I dreamt of making my first feature film – right from my teenage years. Unfortunately, when finally I took my baby steps towards fulfilling my dream of making a feature film, Dr Hazarika was not keeping the best of health. His ageing body was protesting against the demand of his ever youthful mind…and for almost four years, which appeared more like four decades to us, Dr Hazarika had stopped recording for songs…

Suddenly I got the good news! I was told that Dr Hazarika has recovered enough to record a stanza of a song some one month back. I immediately called up my music director Zubeen to request him to contact Dr Hazarika. He promised to do it the moment he arrives in Mumbai.

23rd of January, 2010. That afternoon I was busy with the edit of a documentary that I’m directing for Surbhi foundation, to be telecast in the National Geographic network. Suddenly I got a call from my producer Mr. Siddhartha Kak. He told me that he had spoken to Dr Bhupen Hazarika for an interview for that documentary – will I be able to go and meet him for the same? Will I be able to?? I landed in his residence in the next 30 minutes!

I almost had to pinch myself when during the conversation, and he started to hum few of his ever green songs… just for me! Hesitantly, after talking about his interview for the documentary, I enquired whether he will be kind enough to recite the title poem for my film. After all, that poem is supposed to be the voice of the river Brahmaputra… and who could be a better voice to represent the river than Dr Bhupen Hazarika? After listening to the poem for a couple of times, he told me – ‘you are speaking my language in the poem! I’m going to do it.’

My first reaction was, ‘did he really mean it?’

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