Monday, June 24, 2024

End of a musical genre


Share post:


Dr Bhupen Hazarika’s death was widely mourned. Although he sang paeans to the Brahmaputra it would be wrong for any single community to appropriate him and his memory. Hazarika was a musical philosopher. His heart beat for the distressed; his songs echoed the burden of the ordinary mortal on whom the harsh elements of the weather played havoc. He belonged to all and to none. He was an Indian who felt at home everywhere. The self-limiting boundaries of the human mind often makes us attach political labels to anyone with a concern for the working class. Dr Hazarika was labelled a Leftist and left leaning academics identified with his ideology and considered him a fellow traveller.

But in 2004 when Hazarika contested the Lok Sabha election from the BJP, a rightist party symbolised by Narendra Modi and LK Advani, many questioned the philosopher’s motives. They thought he was afflicted by a quest for power. His own people were quick to berate him for what they thought was a geriatric quirk. Dr Hazarika lost the election. He was disillusioned and disappointed. He felt let down but continued his lyrical journey and gave vent to his sense of disappointment through his songs. This is also a lesson in adversity or Hazarika. He never expected to be rebuffed by a people who he loved and dedicated all his singing life to. He considered them his own but they felt he had alienated them when he joined a rightist mainstream party instead of an indigenous one like the Asom Gana Parishad. Having lived away from Assam for a while Dr Hazarika perhaps never anticipated the public antagonism towards his joining politics.

Hazarika’s 2004 experience is also educative in that it reveals how people view their heroes and how they slot them into defined spaces. A singer par excellence who is the pride and joy of Assam could not be expected to sink into the morass of politics. By rejecting him as a politician, people thought they were saving him from himself and what according to them was a ‘bad choice’. It is not easy to be a hero. And how often we forget that heroes too have feet of clay! It’s not as if the bard wanted any title or award. He sang because singing was second nature to him. But nothing in this life is apolitical. Dr Hazarika became a victim of the politics of his own songs.

Previous article
Next article

Related articles

Hindujas and justice

A developed nation is materially different from an under-developed one. In several cases, the difference could be as...

Pending petitions delay final report

Delimitation of KHADC constituencies SHILLONG, June 23: The delimitation tasked to re-organise the 29 constituencies of Khasi Hills Autonomous...

Hek seeks GoI help to boost animal rearing, fisheries sector

NEW DELHI, June 23: Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Minister, AL Hek on Sunday met Union Minister of State...

Workshop draws up plans for cleanliness of Umiam Lake

SHILLONG, June 23: Meghalaya Institute of Governance (MIG), in collaboration with the Union Christian College (UCC) and Operation...