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 realized 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.
— An excerpt from the book
Bhupen Hazarika: As I Knew Him, a unique piece of literature written by Kalpana Lajmi will take you on an extraordinary journey where you will discover the real man behind the legend that we know as Bhupen Hazarika. Written from the lens of Lajmi, the book traverses back and forth through time and gives the reader an up close and personal peek in to the love, care, compassion and needless to mention, the daily contentions between Lajmi and Hazarika in their rather eccentric relationship.
Written in quite a lucid manner, the book is a free-flowing memoir where Lajmi traces various small and big events from Hazarika’s life and gives the reader a newfound experience and new insights in to the life of Bhupen Hazarika, quite distant from the outlook of the mainstream media. Kalpana Lajmi, inspite of being an extraordinary filmmaker in her own right, devoted her entire life not only to managing Hazarika’s career and preservation of his vast array of work but also putting back the scattered pieces of his personal life together. The book breaks various presumptions about Bhupen Hazarika as a public figure and exhibits him as a common man grappling with common needs and common insecurities.
Bhupen Hazarika: As I Knew Him is an unusual tale of a charismatic and passionate man for whom music and love for his native land was everything and on the other side is a relentless feminist who defied all social norms and remained the backbone of Hazarika in all their personal and political upheavals and yet nothing could wreck their relationship despite his tempestuous ways, irrational tantrums and his unwillingness to recognize her as his wife.
I understood the meaning of the word ‘Dhumuha’ only after I saw in my mind’s eye the wild, lumbering, dark passion that enveloped Bhupen. I saw him walking, talking, singing, communicating, laughing and I whispered to the wind, ‘O, dhumuha, you are my Bhupen, charismatic, wild, passionate and prodigious.’ He refused to be contained within the boundaries of relationships and artistic conventions.
— An excerpt from the book