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Assam's bard passes away

After battling for life for four months at a city hospital, 85 year-old Bhupen Hazarika succumbed to multiple organ failure and pneumonia on Saturday

Ek boond kabhi paani ki mori ankhiyon se barsaaye (a tear drop sometimes gently falls from my eyes), a line to which Bhupen Hazarika lent his rustic voice, probably best describes the reaction of millions of fans after he died due to multiple organ failure and pneumonia in Mumbai on Saturday.

Hazarika, who died at 4.37 pm, had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital in Andheri since June 29.



"Hazarika had Parkinson's disease and symptoms of senile dementia, apart from damaged lungs and kidneys. He was brought to the hospital after he complained of chest congestion and drowsiness," said ICU specialist Dr Sahilendra Goel.

His health deteriorated after he developed pneumonia on October 23 and had to undergo a minor surgery to attach a food pipe to his system. According to the CEO of the hospital Dr Ram Narain, the singer's condition worsened in the last three days and he had been put on a ventilator.

Goel, who was treating Hazarika said, "Till his last breath he was a person full of hope and life. He was a true fighter and a very co-operative patient."

During his final days, sister-in-law Manisha Hazarika, Kalpana Lajmi and two nieces were always by Hazarika's side. His body will be flown to Guwahati today.

Born in the year 1926, Dr Hazarika was a prodigy in every sense. He recorded his first song Biswa Bijoy No Jowan when he was just 12. A poet, music director, singer, actor, author and director, Hazarika took the rich folk sounds of Assam and interpreted them seamlessly in his songs. Hazarika completed his BA from Banaras Hindu University in 1944 and MA in Political Science in 1946. He did his PhD in Mass Communication from Columbia University.

While in the US, he interacted with singer Paul Robeson whose track Old Man River would inspire him to pen Bistirno parore (O Ganga behti ho in Hindi). This would become one of his most popular songs.  He composed, wrote and sang for numerous Bengali and Hindi films. He penned more than 1,000 songs and wrote several short stories books, essays, travelogues and poems. He also played a pioneering role in Northeastern cinema.

Hazarika made documentaries on the music of the Northeast, at a time when television in the country was still at a nascent stage.

He received the National Award for Best Music Director in '76 for Chameli Memsaab and the President's Medal for his films Shakuntala, Pratidhwani  and Lotighoti. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in '87, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in '92 and the Padma Bhushan in 2001. 

His compositions reminded me of Assam where he came from. Often I told him, Dada, you're the Brahmaputra of music. We'll really miss him a lot.
� Javed Akhtar, Lyricist

A giant amongst giants, lonely like all visionaries, he dedicated his life to bring the cultural assets of Northeast on to centre stage. A national treasure.
� Mahesh Bhatt, Filmmaker

After Jagjit Singh, India has lost another musical wonder, RIP Bhupen Hazarika. The man who gave us 'Dil Hoom Hoom Kare'. Our hearts recite this song with grief today.
� Akshay Kumar, Actor

He brought to mind Assam, its culture, its rustic life and the Brahmaputra. With his demise, this Voice of Brahmaputra has fallen silent.
� Sankaranarayanan, Maharashtra Governor

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