Tibet-bordering bridge should be named after Bhupen-da

Nava Thakuria

Nava Thakuria

By Nava Thakuria

GUWAHATI, India, 25 May 2017

The new Dhola-Sadiya bridge connecting Assam with Arunachal Pradesh is to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow (26 May). A civil society group in northeast India urges the governments at Dispur and New Delhi to name the bridge after the legendary cultural personality Dr Bhupen Hazarika. The Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA), in a statement, argued that the people of Assam and Arunachal should also take the opportunity to honour a legend of our time.

The 9.16-km bridge spans the Lohit river, a major tributary of the mighty Brahmaputra. Termed India’s longest bridge, and constructed with a 950-crore-rupee budget, the river bridge in the far eastern part of the country is expected to change the lives of thousands of families. Moreover, it is understood that it would fulfill a vital requirement in terms of India’s defence perspective, as it is only 100 km away from the McMahon Line separating India with Tibet (now occupied by China).

The locality in southern Arunachal was also occupied by the aggressive Chinese forces along with a few areas of Assam in the 1962 Indo-China war before they were chased away by New Delhi with the support of nuclear power United States.

“Dr Hazarika visited the Kameng locality soon after the Chinese aggression and created his eternal song ‘Aji Kameng Simanta Dekhilo’ to pay homage to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the war. The legendary musician with an immortal voice also proposed an energetic and watchful force at the border with China,” said the PPFA statement endorsed by Rupam Barua, Natwar Thakkar, Ravindra Nath, Bidhayak Das, Jagadindra Raichoudhury, Pramod Kalita, Anup Sarma, Zakir Hussain, Oken Jeet Sandham, Pradip Kumar Sarma, and others.

The forum also stated that Bhupen-da (as millions of Dr Hazarika’s fans prefer to call him) was born at Sadiya (on 8 September 1926) in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district, and incidentally he made the first film, titled Meri Dharam Meri Maa, representing Arunachal Pradesh. The self-proclaimed Jajabor (wanderer or gypsy), who tried his hand at various field of creations as a poet, lyricist, singer, music composer, author, journalist, and filmmaker, was the most exposed, discussed, and reported personality of the region.

With his immortal voice, the bard of Brahmaputra was equally popular in mainland India along with Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan. He was conferred the Padamshree (1977) and Padma Bhushan (2001) awards, as well as the Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1992), the first and only person from northeast India to receive the honour till date. Bhupen-da got his PhD in mass communication (1952) from Columbia University, New York, US.

The child prodigy sang and performed in Indramaloti, the second Assamese talkie film made by Jyotiprasad Agarwalla in 1939. Bhupen-da has penned thousands of lyrics and rendered his crisp voice for nearly 1,500 songs. He had composed music for 36 Assamese films, and many Bengali (Jiban Trishna, Jonakir Alo, Mahut Bandhure, Kari o Komal, Ekhane Pinjar, Dampati, Chameli Memsaab, and others) and Hindi (Ek Pal, Rudaali, Papiha, Darmiyaan, Daman, Gajagamini, and others) films as well.

As a drector, some of his outstanding Assamese films include Era Batar Sur (1956), Mahut Bandhure (1958), Shakuntala (1960), Pratidhwani (1964), Lotighoti (1967), Chick Mick Bijuli (1970), Mon Projapati (1978), and Siraj (1988). He won the Indian President’s award for Shakuntala, Pratidhwani and Lotighoti as a film maker. He was awarded the best music director award for Chameli Memsaab in 1976. It was in fact the first national award in music direction for the Assamese film industry.

The Assam government conferred two prestigious honours (Shrimanta Shankardev Award 1988 and Asam Ratna Award 2008) on Bhupen-da. Asom Sahitya Sabha, the highest literary forum of Assam, offered the coveted post of President to him in 1993. Bhupen-da was appointed as the Chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademi for a five-year term in 1999, and was even elected to the Assam State Legislative Assembly (1967-72).

Above all, he was identified as a man of assimilation, who had connected different communities and tribes of the region like a golden thread, added the statement, which was supported by Nayan Jyoti Baruah, Rubee Das, Utpal Mena, Rasel Hussain, Dayal Krishna Nath, Aditi Chakravarty, Sabah Ahmed, Deepak Parvatiyar, Gargi Talukdar, Monalisa Mahanta, Uddipana Goswami, Tarali Chakrabarty, Azlina Khanam, Sewali Kalita, Tinat Atifa Masood, Sonit Kumar Goswami, Manoj Khandelwal, and others.

About the author

Nava Thakuria is a journalist based in Guwahati. He has been covering socio-political developments of northeast India, along with its neighbours Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Myanmar, and Bangladesh, for various media outlets for more than two decades.

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