London tribute to Assamese music legend - Wife, son and daughter-in-law to sing at the Nehru Centre in memory of Jayanta Hazarika

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Guwahati
  • Published 12.10.06
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October Club, Berlin, 1972: A young legend from Assam, Jayanta Hazarika, steps gingerly on stage with his elder brother, Bhupen Hazarika, and overwhelms a German audience with his mellifluous voice at an international conference of political songs

Nehru Centre, London, 2006: The soul-touching songs of Jayanta Hazarika, sung by his wife, son and daughter-in-law, will fill the London air at the first-ever memorial concert abroad since his death in 1977

Guwahati, Oct. 12: “Now you belong to heaven/And the stars spell out your name/Your candles burnt out/Long before your legend ever will.” Balladeer Elton John’s words could well sum up the sentiments as Jayanta Hazarika — one of Assam’s most promising singers who died at the age of 34 — comes alive in faraway London at one of the biggest memorial concerts in his name.

The 30th death anniversary programme of the singer-composer will be held at the Nehru Centre, the cultural wing of the Indian high commission in London on October 18.

“It is a significant step towards our endeavour to take Jayanta Hazarika to the international fora. My mother and I have been observing his anniversary every year in Assam, but this time we will perform in front of an international audience, mainly the Asian community,” Mayukh Hazarika, the singer’s son, told The Telegraph over phone from Delhi.

Jayanta Hazarika’s widow Manisha and daughter-in-law Laili, will also perform at the function.

“He was not just my father but a national hero whom people even in remotest corners of the state knew. Even today, his songs are as popular as they were during his lifetime,” Mayukh added.

An accomplished singer and musician himself, Mayukh has been engaged for the past five years in singing cover versions of Jayanta Hazarika’s hit songs.

The trio leaves for London tomorrow.

Jayanta Hazarika, who was popular as Rana Bhaiti among his friends and well-wishers, was known as much for his soulful tunes and songs as for his voice.

He passed away in Calcutta on October 15, 1977. When his body was brought to Guwahati for the last rites, thousands of grief-stricken fans lined both sides of the road for a last glimpse of the singer. It was one of the most poignant public display of grief the city has ever seen.

Rini Kakoti, a London-based NRI who is associated with the anniversary programme, said in an email: “There have been quite a number of tributes to the legendary artiste through his songs, but some of them have been unimaginably careless and irresponsible ventures. There are glaring errors in the lyrics, besides mishandling of notations and musical accompaniment. The preludes and interludes deviate to a simplified solo pattern from the superb original orchestrations. The background scores are substandard and the extra doses of individualist treatment only mar the original excellence”.

Kakoti recalled how the young singer had added significantly to enriching the tradition flourishing in Assam for ages. “He had the prompting of his heart to initiate the formation of Sur Bahini, a mobile musical brigade which was committed to working selflessly for the welfare of poor, helpless and distressed people, especially victims of natural calamities. His artistic excellence and qualities of head and heart set the perfect example of an artiste in the truest sense of the term”.

So, while the son of Assam continues to mesmerise the shores of Brahmaputra, the banks of the Thames will have the rare opportunity of being washed with his melodious oeuvre.