A golden voice of Indian music fell silent Saturday when legendary singer-composer Bhupen Hazarika died of multiple organ failure at a Mumbai hospital, plunging millions of fans across the country, especially those in eastern India, into gloom. He was 85.
Hazarika, who was on the ventilator for four months and had been in and out of hospital, passed away at 4.37 p.m. at Kokilaben Hospital in India’s entertainment capital. His long time companion, filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi, his nephews and some well wishers from his home state of Assam were at his side when he died.
“I feel as if I lost my soul. It’s a loss for the entire country. I don’t have words,” Sudakshina Sharma, younger sister of Hazarika, said. She is also a singer and stays in Guwahati.
“Not only it is a personal loss, but his demise is surely the end of an era. He would however continue to live forever by way of his compositions,” said the maestro’s younger brother and singer Samar Hazarika.
The singer’s close friend and director Kalpana Lajmi said: “His spirit was great, but what to do, his body gave way. It is a very difficult time for all of us. The doctors did a wonderful job.”
“His loss is a great loss for the country. His music was universal,” said Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.
The singer’s body will be kept at the Mumbai hospital till Sunday before being flown to Guwahati for the last rites, a hospital official said quoting Hazarika’s family.
His body will be flown to Guwahati Monday and kept at Judges Field for two days for the public to pay homage, Gogoi said.
The Assam government has taken the responsibility to fly the body from Mumbai to Guwahati and organise the last rites, expected to take place in Guwahati Wednesday or Thursday.
Known for his haunting, resounding melodies like “Dil hoom hoom kare” and “Ganga behti ho kyon”, Hazarika was a Dadasaheb Phalke Award winner. His lyrics and voice lent a special flavour to several Bollywood songs and put the spotlight on music from Assam.
His death cast a pall of gloom over his millions of fans. Many in Assam were grief stricken as news of his death spread.
“The voice of India, especially the eastern region, has come to a halt. But his songs would continue to live with us for generations to come,” said Arunim Das, a Hazarika fan in Guwahati.
The film industry remembered the singer and many paid condolences through social networking sites. Said actor Akshay Kumar: “After Jagjit Singh, India has lost another musical wonder, RIP Bhupen Hazarika. The man who gave us ‘Dil Hoom Hoom Kare’ from Rudaali, truly our hearts recite this song with grief today.”
Jayanta Saha, media relations incharge of the Mumbai hospital, told IANS that after Hazarika developed pneumonia Oct 23, he underwent a minor surgery whereby doctors placed a food pipe into his system.
Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan in his condolence message described Hazarika as a “gift of Assam to the world”.
“Bhupen Hazarika at once brought to one’s mind the image of the beautiful state of Assam, its culture, its rustic life and the Brahmaputra river. With his demise, this voice of Brahamaputra has fallen silent,” Sankaranarayanan said.
“I join the millions of admirers of this great balladeer of India in paying my respects to his loving memory. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” he added.