Naming Dhola-Sadiya bridge after Bhupen-da

Guwahati: As the Dhola-Sadiya bridge over Lohit, a major tributary of mighty Brahmaputra is set to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 26 May 2017, a nationalist civil society group of northeast India urges both the governments at Dispur and New Delhi to name the bridge, connecting Assam with Arunachal Pradesh, after the legendary icon Dr Bhupen Hazarika.

The Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA), in a statement, also argued that the habitants of Assam and Arunachal should take the opportunity to honour the celebrity. Termed as India’s longest bridge and constructed with rupees 950 crore budget, the project in far eastern part of the country is expected to change the lives of thousands of local families. Moreover, it is assumed that the 9.16 km river bridge 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 and Tibet (now occupied by China). The locality in southern Arunachal was also occupied by the aggressive Chinese forces along with few areas of Assam in 1962 Indo-China war before they were chased away by New Delhi with the help of the then nuclear power America’s inherent support.

“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 for an energetic and watchful force at the border with China,” said the PPFA statement endorsed by Rupam Barua, Natwar Thakkar, Ravindra Nath, Bidhayak Das, Oken Jeet Sandham, Pradip Kumar Sarma Jagadindra Raichoudhury, Pramod Kalita, Anup Sarma, Rubee Das etc. The forum also argued 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. Preferred to declare himself as a Jajabor (wanderer), Bhupen-da tried his hands in various field of creations as a poet, lyricist, singer, music composer, author, journalist and filmmaker. In fact, he was the most visible individual of the region for many decades. With his immortal voice, the bard of Brahmaputra was equally popular in mainland India along with Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. He was conferred on Padamshree (1977) and Padma Bhushan (2001) besides Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1992), the first and only one from northeast India to receive the honour till date. Bhupen-da got his PhD in mass communication (1952) from Columbia University, New York. 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 1500 songs. He had composed music for 36 Assamese films, many Bengali (Jiban Trishna, Jonakir Alo, Mahut Bandhure, Kari o Komal, Ekhane Pinjar, Dampati, Chameli Memsaab etc) and Hindi (AAOPEk Pal, Rudaali, Papiha, Darmiyaan, Daman, Gajagamini etc ) films. As a director, some of his outstanding Assamese films include ‘Era Batar Sur’ (1956), ‘Shakuntala’ (1960), ‘Pratidhwani’ (1964), ‘Lotighoti’ (1967), ‘Chick Mick Bijuli’ (1970), ‘Mon Projapati’ (1978), ‘Siraj’ (1988) etc.

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He won Indian President’s award for ‘Shakuntala’, ‘Pratidhwani’ and ‘Lotighoti’ as a film maker. He was awarded with best music director award for ‘Chameli Memsaab’ in 1976. It was the first national award in music direction for the Assamese film industry. 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 the President to him in 1993. For a five year term Bhupen-da was appointed as the Chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1999 and was also elected to Assam State Legislative Assembly in 1967. Above all Bhupen-da was identified as a man of assimilation, who had connected different community & tribes of the region like a golden thread, added the statement supported by Wahid Saleh, Arvind Phukan, Chandan Mozumder, Rajen Barua, Zakir Hussain, Nayan Jyoti Baruah, Rasel Hussain, Dayal Krishna Nath, Sabah Ahmed, Deepak Parvatiyar, Bhuban Saikia, Tinat Atifa Masood, Indranil Kalita, Irfan Khondker, Nilima T Haque, Rahul Sarma, Tarali Chakrabarty, Azlina Khanam, Sewali Kalita, Uddipana Goswami etc.
– By Nava Thakuria

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