The sad demise of Sattriya exponent, stage playwright and director, Krisnamurty Hazarika over the weekend has come as a rude shock and a painful loss. To those denizens who knew him, his death was indeed sudden. He was hearty and healthy, and always wore that wonderful, beaming smile. He was elegance personified.
He loved meeting people and getting to know them and share their lives. Everyone loved him for his genuineness and warmth. He would always make it a point to be there at social gatherings and cultural events. He could also be very sharp and had great wit.
I remember him from my teenage years when he used to be closely associated with the seventies’ pioneering cultural institution ‘Aikyatan’, where he brought into fore his considerable talents and expertise to various productions, be it a drama or a musical. He was always ready to put that extra effort to the proceedings. Rehearsals often went into the wee hours of the morning. His voice, so lucid, could be heard from quite a distance.
My father, founder-member of Aikyatan, and eminent litterateur late Pabitra Kumar Deka always felt delighted to have him around. Actually, both got along like a house on fire. Their behind-the-scenes collaboration helped give shape to so many good things in the cultural arena.
Artistes had an easy time getting into their acts under these two stalwarts. The likes of Sanjiv Hazorika, Jayanta Das, late Surajit Gogoi, Dilip Ranjan Dutta, Moinul Haque, Bimal Choudhury, Nayan Prasad, Debojit Hazarika, Prabin Hazarika, Kamala Saikia, Kishore Giri, late Loknath Subba, Rishiraj Duwara, late O.P. Nayar, Ram Hazarika among hosts of others, who became much recognised figures later on in their careers, began their journey in the hallowed portals of Aikyatan, then considered a breeding ground for many a aspiring and established actors, actresses, writers, lyricists, filmmakers, poets, musicians, technicians and what not. Both my father and Krisnamurty Hazarika were only too happy to bask in their glory. Their friendship endured and remained so till my father expired in 2010.
The discussions at Aikyatan always veered on theater, music and literature. The big screen was hardly considered in the scheme of things.
Krisnamurty Hazarika had left a signature stamp on plays like ‘Singhasan Khali’, a big production that he directed with his distinctive vision. He had been an ardent adviser on Aikyatan’s many other plays, some really groundbreaking productions like ‘Panchatantra’, an enviably successful musical directed by renowned danseuse and Hazarika’s better half, Garima Hazarika, ‘Upahaar’, ‘Okonihotor Huwani Desh’, ‘Natak Holeu Natak Nohoi’ among others that toured the nook and corner of the state to popular acclamation and critical appeal. He was quite happy to play the role of a mentor to anyone who came to seek his help and guidance. Whatever he did, he did it with outmost dedication and enthusiasm, whether he was writing or directing a play. He also regularly wrote a much admired column on art and culture in Roopkar, a progressive and a first of its kind magazine in the Northeast India, published and edited by my father in the seventies.
Born on March 26, 1931 in a culturally enriching environment in Nagaon, Krisnamurty Hazarika was relentless in his endeavour to give further structure to Sattriya. Apart from theater, he was involved in an exhausting amount of work in promoting and nurturing Sattriya throughout his life. He played a pioneering role in elevating its status, raising its raw profile as prevalent in the Sattras to its much cultivated mode on stage, while at the same time, making a concerted effort to ensure that the dance it represents is reflective of its true character.
It was a profound experience for audiences not just across the State but also outside to watch him perform Sattriya on stage. He created his own niche while exploring different styles. He was also closely associated with the well-known cultural academy Shillong Kala Parishad where he performed as the leading artist and choreographer, showcasing his unique and meticulous brand of choreography in Ankiya dramas like ‘Parijat Haran’, ‘Rukmini Haran’, and ‘Natun Bharat’, among others. Krisnamurty Hazarika always believed in nurturing newcomers with potential, several of whom he guided with kindness and generosity.
Hazarika was helped all along in his artistic endeavor by his wife, renowned Sattriya danseuse and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award winner Garima Hazarika. It’s due to their unequivocal love for this truly unique dance form that has emboldened their desire and willingness to get involved in practice and research work for years on end, which has enriched the domain of Sattriya. Their contributions have definitely strengthened the cultural roots of the State.
Krisnamurty Hazarika always thrived on variety in his life. He also contributed significantly as a writer, translating plays like ‘Tughlak’ and ‘Singhasan Khali’ into Assamese and directing them on stage. He developed a wide circle of friends and admirers in several places outside the State. Both Krisnamurty Hazarika and Garima Hazarika were profoundly inspired by icons like Bishnu Prasad Rabha, Dr Bhupen Hazarika, Chandra Phukan, Sarada Bordoloi, Phani Sarma among others, during their lifetime.
Hazarika was also the founder member of the Assam Association of Delhi. He worked in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in a responsible post and retired as Regional Director of the Song and Drama Division of the North East Region.
An exceptionally gifted individual, Krisnamurty Hazarika will be remembered with much love and admiration by his wife Garima Hazarika, who was only recently conferred with the Aideu Handique Memorial Award, son Dr Abhijit Hazarika, daughter-in-law, grand daughter and a host of friends and admirers.