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Life of a Legend

Juanita Kakoty

By Kamal Kataki and Devajit Bhuyan
Spectrum Publications, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 224, Rs. 495.00


The authors’ profound love for Bhupen Hazarika, celebrated as the only great ballad singer in India till his death, comes out in their offering, Bhupenda: Bard of the Brahmaputra. They even have one whole chapter where they quote the condolence messages by prominent people from all walks of life at the time of Hazarika’s death. Devajit Bhuyan writes in his note, ‘After the demise of Bhupen Hazarika, the people of Assam and the rest of the world suffered a great loss and experienced deep anxiety… I too became very emotional after witnessing the last journey of Bhupenda and decided to overcome this pain through my pen and passion for writing.’   This book, therefore, as co-author Kamal Kataki mentions in the foreword, is ‘a personal tribute’. Kamal Kataki has had a two and a half decades association with Hazarika as a guitarist and as his honorary secretary for North East India activities. As one goes through the book, the reader realizes that it is but a catharsis for the authors as they, like every Assamese and admirer of Bhupen Hazarika, come to terms with the emotions that his death stormed up.   The merits of the book lie in the easy flow of language and narration. It is a good documentation of the legendary Bhupen Hazarika’s life and his contribution to the world of arts and culture. It reinforces the fact that he is a legend precisely because of the range of his work from music to films to journalism to activism to politics. The authors have put together some of Hazarika’s significant songs in the context they were written with their English translations. The book carries lists of documentaries and films made by Hazarika, films he composed music for, his awards and accolades. It contains content by Hazarika from his website and also reproduces a few of Hazarika’s interviews. It talks of the visionary he was and his experiences in trying to make films even as he struggled with finances, the pursuit of his passions whether it was going to Columbia University for a doctorate degree in Mass Communication or giving up the security of a salaried job for music. The authors also source reports from newspapers to give an account of the town-wise tributes paid to Hazarika on his death. A whole chapter is dedicated to the mass hysteria and shock that the loss of the ...

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