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Bhupen Hazarika

Quick Introduction

Full name Dr. Bhupen Hazarika
Nickname Sudhakantha or Sudha Kontho
Date of Birth 8th September 1926
Place of Birth Sadiya, Assam, India
Father's Name Nilakanta Hazarika
Mother's Name Shantipriya Hazarika
Siblings Sushma Hazarika, Jayanta Hazarika, and 7 others
Education Cotton University, Guwahati, India; Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi; and Columbia University, New York
Profession Composer, Songwriter, Singer, Music Director, Filmmaker, Poet, Lyricist, Writer, Filmmaker, and Politician
Wife Priyamvada Patel
Children Tej Hazarika
Zodiac Sign Virgo
Political Party Bhartiya Janta Party
Awards Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship (2008), Asom Ratna (2009), Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1992), Padma Shri (1997), Padma Bhushan (2001), Padma Vibhushan (2012), and Bharat Ratna (2019)
Died 5th November 2011
Cause of Death Multiple Organ Failure

About Bhupen Hazarika

Bhupen Hazarika

Bhupen Hazarika was a man of many talents. Apart from being a prosperous playback singer, he was a poet, composer, lyricist, musician, artist, actor, and politician. Also known as 'Bard of Brahmaputra', his evergreen classics were known to be one of the best albums of all time. His song 'Dil Hoom Hoom Kare' from the film Rutaadi was one of the most listened to and appraised songs after its release. His other songs were mostly sung in the Assamese language, and his songs were written and composed by him only. The major themes of his songs were humanity and the values of comradeship. They were translated into other languages as well, such as Bengali and Hindi, and were famous around West Bengal, Assam, and Bangladesh.

Early Life

Bhupen Hazarika was born in Tinsukia District, Assam, on 8th September 1926. He was part of the Kaibarta community. He was the eldest among the 10 siblings in his household. His father was Nilakanta Hazarika, who worked as a teacher, and his mother was Shantipriya Hazarika. His love for music was passed down to him by his mother in the form of folk songs and lullabies. During his early childhood, he lived in the Bharalumukh area in Guwahati while his father went out in search of employment.

After moving to Dhubri with his father in 1932, they moved back to Tezpuir in 1935 after 3 years. There he came across legends like Bishnu Prasad Rabha, a revolutionary poet, and Jyotiprasad Agarwala (Assamese Filmmaker and lyricist), who appreciated and considered his musical talent. In 1936 when he was barely 10 years old, he made a journey to Kolkata along with his two mentors for the recording of his first song produced by Selona Company. Almost three years later, he excelled in music writing and wrote his first song, "Agnijugor Firingoti Moi". At the age of 12, he recorded two other songs, "Kasote Kolosi Loi" and "Biswo Bijoyi Naujawan", from the film "Indramati".


He accomplished his secondary schooling at Sonram High School, Guwahati, and Dhubri Government High School. In 1940, he was admitted to Tezpur High School for his high schooling. Finally, in 1942, he completed his 11th and 12th from Cotton College. He got his B.A. and M.A. degrees in Political Science from Banaras Hindu College. By putting much effort into his studies, he achieved a scholarship from Columbia University and went to New York to pursue higher studies. While abroad, he finished his Ph.D. from Columbia University in Rural Education and Mass Communication. The topic of his thesis was "Proposals for Preparing India's Basic Education to Use Audio-Visual Techniques in Adult Education", which rewarded him with his Ph.D. degree.

While at Columbia University, he met Paul Robson, a determined civil rights activist, and both became close friends. The Assamese Song 'Bistirno Parore' was inspired by Ol' Man River, sung by Robeson with similar thoughts and imagery. This is one of the most acclaimed songs sung by Bhupen Hazarika and has been translated into Bengali and other Indian languages, always sung by himself.

To gain further knowledge on educational development through cinema, he was offered a Lisle fellowship from Chicago University.

Personal Life

While studying at Columbia University, he met Priymavada Patel, and in 1950, he married her. In 1952, his only child Tez Patel was born. He wanted to get rid of the long followed casteism in his Koibarta community, which didn't allow him to marry the upper-caste woman he loved. At last, he married Priyamvada Patel, who turned out to be an upper-caste Brahmin woman.

Film Industry

While living in Guwahati, Bhupen started working for All India Radio, and after attaining his Ph.D., he got a job as a teacher at Gauhati University. However, Bhupen decided to follow his passion and resigned from his job in a few years. He moved to Kolkata and continued his life as a music director and artist. After his migration, the first movie he directed was Era Bator Sur. He made many highly influential movies, such as Siraj, Shakuntala, Ka Swariti, and many more. He also made progress in his music career by singing and composing Assamese songs for his films. Additionally, he was also praised for his contribution to Bengali songs such as Ami Ek Jajabar, Aj Jlban Khunje Pab, Bistirna Dupare, and so on. He won international awards for the songs from Bangladeshi movies that he had composed.

In the Hindi music industry, he made his debut as the music composer for the movie Aarop, released in 1974. Later his songs were featured in other Hindi films such as Darmiyaan, Kyon, Rutaadi, Gajgamini, Main aur Mera Saya, Mera Dharam Meri Ma, and Gandhi to Hitler. Later in 1986, he produced a movie named Ek Pal, and he also starred in it. The first movie written by him was Chingari, released in 2006.

Political Career

He began an acquaintance with the IPTA (Indian People's Theatre Association) in 1953 after coming back from the U.S. Within two years, he managed to secure the position of Secretary of the Reception Committee at the third All Assam Conference. From 1967 to 1972, Bhupen Hazarika accepted his position as an independent MLA in the Assam legislative Assembly while he was supported by Nauboicha Constituency. In 2004, he was selected as the Bhartiya Janata Party candidate for the Lok Sabha elections from the Guwahati Constituency by the influence of Chandan Mitra. However, he lost the elections against Kirip Chaliha.

Awards and Honours

  • Shakuntala, directed by Hazarika, received an award for Best Feature Film in Assamese during the 9th National Film Awards.
  • His movies Shakuntala (1960), Pratidhwani (1964), and Latighoti (1967) received the President's Medal.
  • In 1975, he was awarded the Best Music Director for the songs featuring in Chameli Memsaab.
  • He accepted the Padma Shri award in 1977 after becoming a member of the Assam Legislative Assembly from 1967-1972.
  • He also contributed to the minority communities through his films. Due to his contribution, he was honored with Gold Medal from the Arunachal Pradesh Government regarding the Tribal Upliftment and Tribal Culture in 1979.
  • In 1986, the production work on his biopic documentary Moi Eti Zazabodi was started by Waiskarni Bora and Arnab Jan Deka together.
  • In 1987, he received one of the highest Indian recognition in arts in the form of the Sangeet Natak Academy Award.
  • From 1999 to 2004, Hazarika was appointed as the chairman of Sangeet Natak Academy.
  • In 1992, he received Dadasaheb Phalke Award.
  • In the Asia Pacific International Film Festival in 1993, organized in Japan, he was the first Indian to receive the Best Music Award for the movie Rutaadi.
  • In 2002, he was awarded Kalakar Award for Lifetime Achievement in Kolkata.
  • He was honored with Asom Ratna, which is considered the highest honor of the state of Assam.
  • In 2012, he was posthumously glorified with Padma Vibhushan.
  • After several years in 2019, he once again found recognition after he was posthumously awarded Bharat Ratna (the highest honor received by any civilian in the Indian Republic).


On 30th June 2011, due to his ailing health, he was admitted to the Medical Research Unit Institute, Mumbai. After almost four months, he was moved to ICU, and on 5th November 2011, he died from MODS (multiple organ dysfunction syndrome). His body was cremated on 9th November 2011 on the small part of land granted by Gauhati University.

An Inspiration for Others

Bhupen Hazarika had lived a long and prosperous life contributing to the film and music industry as well as politics. Therefore, he became an international personality on the basis of his voice that used to communicate the values of being more than an Indian, i.e., being a human. He learned from the ways of foreigners and came back to his own country to carry his own destiny for the good of his own people. He is an inspiration to all Indians who aspire to live fruitful life by providing for his people through entertainment, redefining culture, and presenting new perceptions.

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