Cultural icon Bhupen Hazarika always felt that he and Kalpana Lajmi should celebrate their love story as it was special and unique given the conservative construct of society, the filmmaker wrote in her memoir.
Lajmi, who was suffering from kidney ailment, passed away early Sunday morning at a hospital in Mumbai at the age of 64. She was Hazarika's companion for nearly 40 years. Hazarika predeceased her in 2011.
Lajmi was just 17 when she met Hazarika for the first time. He was 45 then.
My eyes sparkled with love at first sight and I saw their reflection in his eyes just when the light of his life was about to be extinguished - 40 years later, she wrote in her just-released autobiography Bhupen Hazarika: As I Knew Him, co-authored with Sunanda Shyamal Mitra.
Our lives, from youth to old age, were a continuous journey of mutual passion and love. We stepped into various chapters of our lives, sliding in and out of relationships with men and women, making memories along the way. We cherished some of them, but there were some we wished we could forget, she wrote in the book, published by HarperCollins India.
So why was she attracted to Hazarika?
When I met the 45-year-old Bhupen, I instantly thought of the dhumuha', which, in Assamese, means a short tempestuous storm that swirls across the riverine civilization bordering the Brahmaputra. Bhupen epitomised that storm.
The dhumuha is eternal and comes year after year to sweep everything and everyone away in its wake. Bhupen's personality at 45 was like the dhumuha: charismatic, wild, passionate, talented, with an unmatched intellect; and yet which, like the whirlwind, loved, empathised, and uplifted, especially his region, the north-east, to integrate it into a brotherhood with India.
What was the idea behind the book?
My love story with Bhupen Hazarika was unique. Forty years of an eventful, personal, tumultuous journey with Bhupen, marked by important socio-cultural and political events that deeply impacted our personalities, are what I want to talk about. Our nation's influence on Bhupen and his artistic conscience and, in turn, Bhupen's complete devotion to his art and uplift of the underprivileged and plea for regional recognition went hand in hand.
I slowly realised I was always in love with Bhupen and Bhupen was always in love with the nation. I was always in love with his artistic genius and he was always in love with his native soil. I was always in love with his innocence whereas he was, till his last breath, torn with anguish, angst and inexplicable pain for the condition of his fellow beings, not only in eastern India but also in India and Bangladesh.
Lajmi, daughter of well-known painter Lalitha Lajmi and niece of Guru Dutt, directed six critically acclaimed films Ek Pal (1986), Rudaali (1993), Darmiyaan (1997), Daman (2001), Kyun (2003) and Chingaari (2006) and a documentary called D.G. Movie Pioneer based on Bengali filmmaker Dhiren Ganguly. Hazarika composed music in all the films.
She also directed the TV serial Lohit Kinaare (1988) for Doordarshan and 26 episodes of Dawn, a serial on the freedom movement of India.
According to Lajmi, she kept herself busy in loving Bhupen and looking after him till his demise, allowing him to indulge in his dreams and fond memories of his native soil.
That was probably the most difficult period of my life. The loneliness that engulfed me, my depleting finances, the creativity that eluded me - it was as if my life breath was slowly being sucked out.
Hazarika died on November 5, 2011.
Almost immediately after his passing away, the winds changed. The world welcomed and acknowledged me finally, bestowing upon me the honour, respect and pride as Bhupen's companion. Somewhere down the ages, I too would be remembered, something that I had not asked for, but was given because Bhupen gave me in death what he could not in life: his acceptance and the status of his wife and consort, Lajmi wrote