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Nov 05, 2011 at 11:49pm IST

Bard of Brahmaputra Bhupen Hazarika dead

Mumbai: Acclaimed singer and music director Dr Bhupen Hazarika died in Mumbai's Kokilaben Hospital on Saturday due to multiple organ failure. He was admitted there since June 29, 2011. Hazarika, wove a magical tapestry out of traditional Assamese music and lyrics.

"It was a multi-organ failure. The end came around 4:30 pm," Jayanta Narayan Saha, in-charge of media relations at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai said.

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Doctors specified the organ dysfunction as pneumonia-led. "He was in the ICU for the past four months. His condition was fluctuating. For the last three or four days his health deteriorated and he became weak. He was on ventilator and dialysis," said Dr Ram Narain, CEO of the hospital.

Hazarika was regarded as one of the greatest living cultural communicators of South Asia. He had been a poet, journalist, singer, lyricist, musician, filmmaker and writer.

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His long-time companion and filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi was beside him when he died. Lajmi, who had a relationship with him for 29 years, said, "I have lost my father, my brother, my lover, my husband, my friend, my mentor and guide... He was extraordinary. We won't have another Hazarika again."

Born in the year 1926, the 85-year-old Dadasaheb Phalke Award winner was a child prodigy in every sense. He recorded his first song at a tender age of 12. The song 'Biswa Bijoy No Jowan' of just the second Assamese film 'Indramalati' was the start of a life long association.

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A multifaceted genius, Hazarika was everything from a singer to a director but his heart remained that of a poet who breathes freely in the indigenous culture of Assam.

The balladeer who composed his own lyrics and music last lent his voice to the film "Gandhi To Hitler", where he sang Mahatma Gandhi's favourite bhajan 'Vaishnav jan'.

ALSO SEE Remembering legendary singer, composer Bhupen Hazarika

His directorial debut 'Era Batar Sur' came in the year 1956 and there was no looking back for Hazarika after it. A string of successful ventures followed and Hazarika became the most sought after name on the cultural front of north-eastern India.

He was the man behind the inception of colour films in Arunachal Pradesh. 'Mera Dharam Meri Maa' (1977) gave impetus to filmmakers with rich cultural heritage to come up with path breaking projects.

ALSO SEE Kalpana Lajmi-Bhupen Hazarika: A 40-year-old love story

Tireless energy coupled with a clear motive brought Hazarika to the national stage when he decided to make documentaries on the musical culture of north east. The satellite television was still in the nascent stage but people like Hazarika turned it into a nation binding force via their meaningful documentaries.

Hindi film 'Ek Pal' provided Hazarika the much awaited chance and he lived up to the expectations by helping the film win several acclaimed awards. The deep baritone with a Midas touch ruled hearts in extremely popular TV serial 'Lohit Kinare', directed by Kalpana Lajmi.

The music of 'Rudaali' not only won awards but also established Hazarika as someone who can master class and mass with the same tune. The shaking voice from the shores of the river Brahmaputra benefited Bengali film industry too.

Indian cinemas's highest honour Dadasaheb Phalke Award was conferred upon him in the year 1992. Winner of many National Awards, Hazarika worked in close co-ordination with the government and served on several important committees including the Censor Board and the National Film Development Corporation.

Hazarika's death has left millions of his fans shocked. Leaders and well-wishers have condoled his death. President Pratibha Patil described him as "a creative genius whose deep baritone voice was instantly recognised by poetry and music lovers across the nation".

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in Hazarika's "sad demise, India has lost one of its most gifted artists".

His native state Assam went into mourning with people gathering at his Guwahati residence and lighting lamps in their houses as a mark of respect.

It is not clear when his body will be flown back home. While Saha said the body will remain in the hospital on Saturday and would be flown to Assam tomorrow, Hazarika's family said the mortal remains are likely to be brought to Guwahati on Monday.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi directed Culture Affairs Minister Pranati Phukan and senior officials to rush here for bringing back Hazarika's body to the state.

The music and cinema world came together to pay tributes to the cultural icon with music legend Manna De, filmmakers Mrinal Sen and Mahesh Bhatt, singer Usha Uthup, music director Pritam, radio commentator Ameen Sayani, and actors Farooq Sheikh, Sanjay Suri and Akshay Kumar among others condoling his death.

Hazarika may not be alive in body but his voice will keep infusing spirit in all those million souls who find culture more important than life.

With Additional Inputs from PTI

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