Bhupen Hazarika, a music legend, ballad singer, composer, lyricist, litterateur, journalist and Dada Saheb Phalke award winning filmmaker, passed away in Mumbai on Saturday afternoon after battling a long spell of ill-health.
He was 85. He is survived by his wife and son.
“Bhupen Hazarika was in the ICU for the last four months, requiring ventilator support on and off. Over the last three to four days, his condition deteriorated, with him being on the ventilator and also requiring dialysis due to kidney failure. His level of consciousness had also deteriorated with multiple organs not functioning. His condition slowly took a turn for the worse and he succumbed today at 4.37 p.m.,” Dr. Ram Narain, COO, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, said in a statement.
Filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi, Mr. Hazarika's long-time companion, was by his side in the hospital.
Mr. Hazarika was admitted to the hospital in June after he suffered dehydration. Since then he was under intensive care and had shown signs of improvement. “He improved a lot 10 days ago, but again he contracted pneumonia and he succumbed to it,” Dr. Shailendra Goel told The Hindu. His condition worsened dramatically in the afternoon and all efforts to save him failed.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi announced that the last rites of Mr. Hazarika would be performed with full state honours. The government announced a three-day mourning from Monday and a half holiday on Tuesday.
Mr. Gogoi said: “A colourful chapter of Assamese life has come to an end with the demise of Mr. Hazarika. He became a living legend and introduced the colourful art and culture of various tribes and communities of Assam and northeast to the global audience. He was a global citizen and used to spread the message of peace, harmony and progress through his songs across boundaries. His demise is a huge loss in the field of music, literature and art and culture of Assam and Assam's national life, which will never be filled up again.”
Popular singer Hariharan said Mr. Hazarika was an important figure in the music world. “He brought the mystical Assamese music to the mainstream. His renditions of songs had a lot of emotional content. I have sung with him on many occasions. He is a great personality; nice to talk to,” he told The Hindu.
Condoling Mr. Hazarika's demise, Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan said: “The voice of the Brahmaputra has fallen silent.”
Describing him as one of the greatest music maestros of the country, Assam Governor J.B. Patnaik said in his message: “His demise is an irreparable loss to the people of the country.”
The mortal remains of Mr. Hazarika will be brought to Guwahati on Monday. It will be kept at Guwahati's Judges' Field for two days to enable the people to pay their last respects.
As soon as the news spread, his close family members, relatives and admirers, including some of the leading singers of Assam, rushed to Hazarika's Nizarapar residence in Guwahati to convey their condolences to the family members — his younger sister Sudakhina Sarma and younger brother Samar Hazarika, both of them singers.
“In the field of music he was second to none. For me he was always a Dronacharya,” said internationally acclaimed filmmaker Jahnu Barua. “Although he was not with me physically, I always felt encouraged by him. He has been a great teacher to me. While I was a student I dreamt of working with him. When I approached him for my first film, he accepted the proposal happily and did a fantastic job almost for free to encourage me. It is really a sad news for all of us and a huge loss.”
Mr. Hazarika was a former president of the Asam Sahitya Sabha and had to his credit more than 600 lyrics and a number of books on short stories, essays, travelogues, poems and children's rhymes. His demise cast a pall of gloom in the literary circle of the State. “The Sun has set. It is not only a great loss for Assam and India but for the entire humanity because he sang for the entire humanity. He not only introduced our culture to the world audience but also brought new vistas to Assam with the message of great singer Paul Robson,” said veteran journalist and former Asam Sahitya Sabha president Kanaksen Deka.
Hundreds of people from all walks of life rushed to Dighali Pukhuri to pay their tribute at the statue of their beloved singer.
They lit candles, earthen lamps, incense sticks and offered floral tributes.