Birthday: September 8, 1926
Died At Age: 85
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Da Bhupen, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, Hazarika, Bhupen
Born in: Sadiya
Famous as: Musician, Singer, Poet, Filmmaker, Lyricist
Spouse/Ex-: Priyam Hazarika
father: Nilakanta Hazarika
mother: Shantipriya Hazarika
siblings: Jayanta Hazarika
children: Tej Hazarika
Died on: November 5, 2011
place of death: Mumbai
education: Banaras Hindu University, Columbia University, Cotton College, Guwahati
awards: Padma Vibhushan (2012) [Posthumously]
Padma Shri (1977)
Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1992)
Padma Bhushan (2001)
Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship (2008)
Asom Ratna (2009)
Muktijoddha Padak (2011) [posthumously]
Bharat Ratna (2019)
Who was Bhupen Hazarika?
Bhupen Hazarika was a multifaceted Indian artist, famously referred to as the uncrowned king of North-Eastern India's cultural world. He is best described as an extraordinarily talented person who was a poet, music composer, singer, actor, journalist, author and a renowned film-maker of the very highest repute. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award in 2019. He was a child prodigy who was discovered by his mentors at a young age which helped him to excel at his abilities. He has rendered music, written lyrics, and sung for numerous Assamese, Bengali and Hindi films which created an everlasting impression on both Assamese and Indian cinema, literature, and music. Most of his songs are marked by themes of humanity and universal brotherhood and have been translated to, and sung in many languages, most notably in Bengali and Hindi. Other than being a musician and playback singer, he was an immensely talented filmmaker who created some of the most memorable national award winning Assamese films. He is also acknowledged to have introduced the culture and folk music of Assam and Northeast India to Hindi cinema at the national level. Winner of several prestigious awards, he was truly one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century.
Childhood & Early Life
Bhupen Hazarika was born on September 8, 1926 in Sadiya, Assam, British India, to Nilakanta Hazarika and Shantipriya Hazarika. He was the eldest of their ten children.
During his childhood, his family shifted several times before settling in Tezpur where his musical talent was spotted by Jyotiprasad Agarwala, the noted Assamese lyricist, and Bishnu Prasad Rabha, a renowned Assamese artist.
In 1936, he traveled with his mentors to Kolkata where he recorded his first song at the Aurora Studio for the Selona Company. In 1939, he sang two songs in the film ‘Indramalati’. He wrote his first song, ‘Agnijugor Firingoti Moi’, at the age of 13.
He received his early education from Sonaram High School in Guwahati, Dhubri Government High School in Dhubri, Tezpur High School and the Cotton College. Later, he attended Banaras Hindu University where he completed his graduation and post-graduation, obtaining his BA (1944) and MA (1946) in Political Science.
In 1949, he got enrolled at the Columbia University, New York, on a scholarship and earned his doctoral degree in 1952 on his thesis "Proposals for Preparing India's Basic Education to use Audio-Visual Techniques in Adult Education".
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While at Columbia University, Bhupen Hazarika was influenced by Paul Robeson, a civil rights activist and composed his song ‘Bistirno parore’, based on the imagery and theme of Robeson's ‘Ol' Man River’. He also composed some other songs in Indian languages.
In 1955, he served as the Secretary of the Reception Committee of the Third All Assam Conference of IPTA. He also served as a teacher at the Gauhati University but left the job after few years and shifted to Kolkata.
Later, he became a director and made award winning Assamese films such as ‘Shakuntala Sur’ (1961) and ‘Pratidhwani’ (1964). Some of his other directorial ventures include ‘Lati-Ghati’ (1966), ‘Chik Mik Bijuli’ (1969), ‘For Whom the Sun Shines’ (1974) and ‘Mera Dharam Meri Maa’ (1976).
He also worked as a composer creating timeless music for many Assamese films and Bangla movies such as ‘Aarop’ (1973), ‘Chameli Memsaab’ (1975) and ‘Shimana Perye’ (1977).
He was also a prominent Assamese and Hindi playback singer and lent his mesmerizing voice to movies such as ‘Era Bator Sur’ (1956), ‘Shakuntala Sur’ (1961), ‘Titash Ekti Nadir Naam’ (1973) and ‘Rudaali’ (1993).
Some of his more recent works as a composer and singer in films include ‘Darmiyaan: In Between’ (1997), ‘Gaja Gamini’ (2000) and ‘Daman: A Victim of Marital Violence’ (2001). His last film as a playback singer was ‘Gandhi to Hitler’ (2011).
Bhupen Hazarika composed some of the most famous Assamese songs including ‘Bistirno Parore’, ‘Moi Eti Jajabor’, ‘Ganga Mor Maa’, ‘Bimurto Mur Nixati Jen’, ‘Manuhe Manuhor Babey’ and ‘Buku Hom Hom Kore’.
One of his major contributions to Hindi cinema was being the music director of outstanding films such as 'Arop', 'Ek Pal', and 'Rudaali'. He also won the ‘Best Music Director National Award’ for ‘Rudaali’ in 1993.
Awards & Achievements
In 1977, Bhupen Hazarika was awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India.
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In 1979, he won the Arunachal Pradesh Government's Gold Medal for his outstanding contribution towards Tribal Welfare and Upliftment of Tribal Culture through cinema.
In 1987, he was honored with the ‘Sangeet Natak Akademi Award’, the highest Indian recognition given to practicing artists.
In 1992, he received the prestigious ‘Dadasaheb Phalke Award’, India's highest award in cinema, by the Government of India.
In 2001, he was conferred the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian honor in the Republic of India.
In 2009, he received the Asom Ratna, the highest civilian award in the State of Assam.
In 2012, he was posthumously awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in the Republic of India.
On January 25, 2019, he was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award.
Family, Personal Life & Legacy
While studying at Columbia University in New York, he met Priyamvada Patel and they later got married in 1950. They were blessed with a son, Tej Hazarika, in 1952.
Bhupen Hazarika died on November 5, 2011, of multi-organ failure, in Mumbai, India. His body was cremated near the Brahmaputra River in a plot of land donated by Gauhati University.