84 years young, Bhupen Hazarika raring to go

By Syed Zarir Hussain

Guwahati, Sep 8 (IANS) Bhupen Hazarika, one of India's oldest performing singers, says he feels younger by the day even as he turns 84 Tuesday with the whole of Assam in celebration mode as a mark of respect to the legendary musician.

"I always think I am young," Hazarika said as he prepared to celebrate his birthday with a traditional Assamese lunch with cancer patients at the Assam Bhawan in Mumbai.

Just last month, the Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner underwent a bypass surgery in Mumbai and it will be his first public appearance Tuesday at the Assam Bhawan as part of his birthday celebrations.

"I don't feel like retiring as music has no retirement age. Throughout my life I have been trying to interpret Assam and India to the outside world through my songs," Hazarika told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

Singer, lyricist and filmmaker, Hazarika's passion for music is unrelenting.

"I am travelling in a beautiful world and reaching the hearts of the people through their own words which I use as lyrics for my songs," said Hazarika, who has composed soulful music for films like "Rudaali", "Saaz" and "Gajagamini".

One of India's best-known balladeers, Hazarika still has a couple of projects in hand - he is to score the music for two movies by well-known filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi.

Back home in Assam, Bhupen Hazarika fans and organisations are celebrating his birthday in various places with daylong programmes - from singing competitions to cultural evenings.

"He is a singer people will remember for ages," said Tapan Gogoi, general secretary of the All Assam Students' Union (AASU).

AASU is celebrating Hazarika's birthday in Guwahati by organising a cultural evening.

Hazarika considers it important that a singer has humanistic ideals - and these should be reflected in his songs.

"When I go to Japan, students of music want me to sing 'Manuhe Manuhar Babe'. When I reach California people say you are our Paul (Robeson), please sing 'We are in the same boat brothers'," Hazarika had told IANS in an interview last year.

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