Dr. Bhupen Hazarika (1926–2011) was a singer, composer, lyricist and music director from Assam and India. He was also a painter, writer, university teacher, film director and magazine editor. He also joined parliamentary politics for some time. Bhupen Hazarika, popularly known as Sudha kontha, was also known as a popular artist in Assam, West Bengal and other provinces of India as well as in neighboring Bangladesh. Dr. Hazarika was a world-citizen and humanitarian artist who made the world of art and culture famous with his outstanding world-class contributions. He composed music and lent his voice in various languages like Assamese, Bengali, Hindi, English, etc. His songs clearly reflect contemporary society, culture, politics, corruption, etc. His work has contributed to the development of the art and culture world of Assam as well as establishing it in India and abroad. Participating in various study cycles and cultural festivals of music, literature, performing arts, films, etc., he visited Belgium, Congo, America, Europe, Canada, Southeast Asia, Japan, Australia etc. In the field of literature and culture, Dr. Hazarika has been widely acclaimed and respected not only in Assam but also in the country and abroad. In addition to the Assam Ratna, he was also honoured with Assam’s highest civilian honour, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in the cultural world of India, he was also the recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India’s highest civilian award in 1992. Dr. Hazarika was the president of the sixty-ninth session of the Assam Sahitya Sabha held at Sivasagar in 1993. Hazarika was the first Assamese to be elected as the chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi. In recognition of his contribution, the Government of India awarded him the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, in 2019.
Biography of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika
|Name||Dr. Bhupen Hazarika |
|Other Name||Sudha Kontha|
|Date of Birth||September 8, 1926.|
|Place of Birth||Sadiya|
|Father’s Name||Nilakanta Hazarika|
|Mother’s Name||Shantipriya Hazarika|
|Education||Cotton College, Kashi Hindu University, Columbia University|
|Death||5 November 2011, (age 85)|
|Place of Death||Mumbai, Maharashtra, India|
Early life and family of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika
Dr. Bhupen Hazarika was born on September 8, 1926, in an Adivasi village in Sadiya. His father’s name was Nilakanta Hazarika and mother’s name was Shantipriya Hazarika. Though Nilakanta Hazarika’s original home was in Nazira, Amolapatti at Sivasagar district but because of his job he had to travel to different parts of Assam. They had a total of ten children. Bhupen Hazarika was the eldest of ten children in the family. Bhupen Hazarika’s brothers Jayanta Hazarika, Samar Hazarika, Sudakshina Sharma are also leading musicians. Dr. Hazarika got his musical mind from the atmosphere of the house when he was child. He was exposed to musical influence of his mother, who use to expose lullabies and traditional music of Assam to Hazarika. His father was first a teacher, later a sub-inspector of schools, and finally a landlord.
While in Sadiya, the Adivasi people had a lot in common with Bhupen Hazarika’s house. People from Bonung village, far away from their home, came and looked after the Bhupen Hazarika when he was small. His parents named Hazarika as Bhupendra Kumar Hazarika. Back then, he always used to be called by nick name as dangor maina. His father Nilakanta Hazarika moved to Bharalumukh region of Guwahati in 1929, where Bhupen Hazarika spent his early childhood. In 1932, his father further moved to Dhubri, and in 1935 to Tezpur because of his work purpose.
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Education and career of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika
Dr. Hazarika did his schooling in Dhubri, Guwahati and Tezpur. He did his primary education from the Primary School at Bharlumukh in Guwahati. He gave his matriculation examination in 1940 from Tezpur Government Higher Secondary School, Intermediate (Arts Department) from Cotton College in 1942, graduation from Banaras Hindu University in 1944 and master’s degree in political science in 1946. He received his doctorate from Columbia University after studying ‘Role of Mass Communication in India’s Adult Education’ and set sail for New York in 1949. He earned a PhD on thesis “Proposals for Preparing India’s Basic Education to use Audio-Visual Techniques in Adult Education”. He received a Lisle Fellowship from the University of Chicago to study the role of cinema to assist in academic projects. It was while at Bharlumukh’s house that his aunt Bhavapriya Das brought Bhupen Hazarika a Harmonium. Bhupen Hazarika’s mother sang songs of Padmadhar Chaliha, Brahma sangeet, Bengali songs, Rabindra Sangeet etc. There was also a talk of Borgeet in their house. That’s how Bhupen Hazarika was introduced to music during his childhood in his home.
Professional life of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika
After completing his MA, Hazarika worked for some days at All India Radio station at Guwahati, before he went for doctorate studies at Columbia University. After completing his studies he also served as a teacher at the Guwahati University. But after some years he left the job as a teacher and went to Kolkata where he was able to established himself as a successful music director and singer. During that phase, Hazarika made several award-winning Assamese films such as Shakuntala, Pratidhwani etc. He also composed music for films from Bangladesh too for which got international acclaim. He was also elected to the Assam Sahitya Sabha in 1993. In 1967, Hazarika got elected as a member of Assam Assembly from Nauboicha constituency.
Art and Literature
During his stay in Tezpur, he was inspired by the proximity of the Assamese cultural world’s leading artists Rupkonwar Jyotiprasad Agarwala, Kalaguru Bishnuprasad Rabha and Natasurya Phani Sharma. In 1936, they took ten-year-old Bhupen Hazarika to Calcutta and recorded the songs of the two plays ‘Sonit Konwari’ and ‘Joymati’ in The Senola Musical Products Company. At the same time, he also recorded the songs ‘Ulahte Nachibagi Holi Biakul’ and ‘Kakhote Kalshi Loi’ composed by Vishnu Prasad Rabha. In 1939, he gained immense popularity as a playback singer for Jyotiprasad Agarwala’s ‘Indramalati’ film. In 1955, under the leadership of Bhupen Hazarika, Gauhati University won the best competitor award at the Inter-University Youth Festival held in Delhi.
The songs written and sung by Dr. Bhupen Hazarika himself are called Bhupendra Sangeet. He was greatly inspired by internationally acclaimed artist Paul Robeson. Robeson who once told him about his guitar, “Guitar is not a musical instrument, it is a social instrument.” He composed his song ‘Bistrino Parore’ which is based on the tune, imagery, and theme of Robeson’s ‘Old Man River’. Later, its Bengali and Hindi translations were also published. Some of the other notable Bhupendra songs are: ‘Sagar Sangam’, ‘Jilikabo Luitare Par’, ‘O Bideshi Bondhu’, ‘Meghe gir gir kore’, etc.
Bhupen Hazarika has also contributed a lot to the field of literature. Most of his songs are composed by him himself. During his stay at Columbia University, he was the editor of the 149-150 issue of the journal ‘New India’. In 1965, he wrote four volumes of the magazine ‘Gati’ on art, Eight volumes of the small magazine ‘Bindu’ in 1970, Between 1965 and 1980, the monthly magazine ‘Amar Pratinidhi, and was the editor of the fortnightly magazine ‘Pratidhwani’ between 1983 and 1990.
For children too, Bhupen Hazarika wrote a popular book of Assamese characters called ‘Bhupen Mama’s Geete Mate O, Aa, Ka, Kha’. On February 8, 2008, the Asom Sahitya Sabha conferred the title of ‘Sahityaacharya’ for Hazarika’s literary work.
Bhupen Hazarika’s first Assamese film Era Bator Sur was released in 1956. He also directed films and composed stories, and songs. Other notable films he directed are – Shakuntala (1961), Pratidhwani (1964), Latighati (1966), Chik Mik Bijuli (1969), Siraj (1948).
Apart from directing films, Bhupen Hazarika has also composed music for many films in Assamese, Bengali, Hindi and other languages. Bhupen Hazarika won the National Film Award for Best Music Director for his music direction in the 1975 film Chameli Memsahib directed by Abdul Majid.
Awards and honours
- He was awarded for the Best Feature Film in Assamese ‘Shakuntala’ in the 9th National Film Award.
- In 1964, Dr. Hazarika’s film ‘Pratidhwani’ won the President’s Medal. The film was invited to the International Film Festival of France.
- In 1966, Dr. Hazarika received the President’s Medal for the first Assamese satire film ‘Lotighati’.
- In 1975, he won the best music director of the year award for his music direction in ‘Chameli Memsahib’, directed by Abdul Majid. He was honoured by the President with the ‘Rajat Kamal Award’ and a cash prize of Rs 10,000 for this song.
- He won the Padma Shri Award in 1977
- Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1987.
- Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1992.
- Padma Bhushan Award in 2001.
- Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 2008.
- Asom Ratna in 2009.
- Padma Vibhushan in 2012.
- Bharat Ratna Award in 2019 posthumously.
Dr. Bhupen Hazarika was hospitalized in the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and Medical Research Institute in Mumbai in 2011. He died of multi-organ failure on 5th November 2011. Dr. Bhupen Hazarika a precious gem of Assam will forever remain in the hearts of every Assamese and others as well.
1. When and where was Dr. Bhupen Hazarika born?
Ans: Bhupen Hazarika was born on September 8, 1926, in an Adivasi village in Sadiya.
2. Who is known as Sudha Kontha?
Ans: Dr. Bhupen Hazarika.
3. What is the name of Bhupen Hazarika’s father and mother?
Ans: Bhupen Hazarika’s fathers name is Nilakanta Hazarika and mother’s name is Shantipriya Hazarika.
4. Name some of the songs composed by Dr. Bhupen Hazarika.
Ans: Some of the boos composed by Dr. Bhupen Hazarika are – ‘O Bideshi Bondhu’, ‘Bistirno Parore’, ‘Moi Eti Jajabor’, ‘Manuhe Manuhor Babey’, Meghe gir gir Kore’ etc.
5. When did Sudha Kontha Dr. Bhupen Hazarika died?
Ans: Dr. Bhupen Hazarika died on 5th November 2011.
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