Bhupen Hazarika was a multifaceted Indian artist, famously referred to as the uncrowned king of North-Eastern India’s cultural world. He is best described as an extraordinarily talented person who was a poet, music composer, singer, actor, journalist, author and a renowned film-maker of the very highest repute. He was a child prodigy who was discovered by his mentors at a young age which helped him to excel at his abilities. He has rendered music, written lyrics, and sung for numerous Assamese, Bengali and Hindi films which created an everlasting impression on both Assamese and Indian cinema, literature, and music. Most of his songs are marked by themes of humanity and universal brotherhood and have been translated to, and sung in many languages, most notably in Bengali and Hindi. Other than being a musician and playback singer, he was an immensely talented filmmaker who created some of the most memorable national award winning Assamese films. He is also acknowledged to have introduced the culture and folk music of Assam and Northeast India to Hindi cinema at the national level. Winner of several prestigious awards, he was truly one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century.

Hazarika began close association with the leftist Indian People’s Theatre Association soon after returning from the USA in 1953 and became the Secretary of the Reception Committee of the Third All Assam Conference of IPTA, held in Guwahati in 1955.

After completing his MA he briefly worked at the All India Radio station at Guwahati before embarking for his doctoral studies at Columbia University. His thesis “DEMYSTIFYING DR. BHUPEN HAZARIKA: envisioning education for India”, edited by Tej Hazarika and published by Cool Grove Press will be available in the US in days.

Soon after completing his education, he became a teacher at the Gauhati University. But after a few years, he left the job and went to Kolkata where he established himself as a successful music director and singer. During that period, Hazarika made several award winning Assamese films such as Shakuntala, Pratidhwani, etc. and composed evergreen music for many Assamese films. He was also considered as a new trend setter in Bengali music. The famous musical genre of West Bengal, the Jivanmukhi geet started by Kabir Suman in 1990’s is thought to be influenced by Dr. Hazarika. Bhupen Hazarika composed music for films from Bangladesh too which got international acclaim.

He was elected the President of the Asam Sahitya Sabha in 1993. In 1967, Dr. Hazarika got elected as a member of Assam Assembly from Nauboicha constituency.

Hazarika was hospitalized in the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and Medical Research Institute in Mumbai in 2011. He was admitted to the intensive care unit on 30 June 2011. He died of multi-organ failure on 5 November 2011. His body lay in state at Judges Field in Guwahati and cremated on 9 November 2011 near the Brahmaputra river in a plot of land donated by Gauhati University. His funeral was attended by an estimated half a million people.