Nikhilesh Barua: A tribute

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By: Trinesh Barua

Our elder brother Nikhilesh Barua, a well-known name in the cultural and literary field of Assam, breathed his last on 26 May on the auspicious day of Buddha Purnima. Born in 1938 of Late Nirad Ch. Barua and Late Nirupama Barua of Gauripur, ‘Dada’ as we fondly called him, had since his childhood shown exceptional creative talent in singing with his gifted voice songs of different genres including folk and modern songs. With the growing of age, he also started showing his creative pursuits in the literary field, writing poetry stories and essays. Dada has to his credit a book in Assamese on Goalpariya folksongs published in the early 1970s. The book entitled ‘Prantabasir Lokasangitat Ebhumuki’ was highly acclaimed by scholars and renowned literary figures alike.

One of his memorable experiences in life was the visit to Bangladesh just after its liberation as a member of a goodwill cultural delegation from Assam. Besides personally wishing his goodwills to ‘Banga Bondhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, he also participated in a number of cultural functions making the audiences spellbound with his melodious golden voice.

Dada’s emerging as music director in the seventies was a matter of pride for the people of Assam. It was he who was the next only to Dr. Bhupen Hazarika to make a galaxy of renowned singers under his direction including legends like Hemanta Mukherjee, Manna Dey, Hoimanti Sukla, Arundhati Home Choudhury, Shakti Thakur, and Dolly Ghosh in the film ‘Hirer Tukro’ in Bengali and ‘Nabik’, a double version film in Assamese and Bengali.

A recipient of the state ‘Shilpi Award’, Dada made a documentary titled ‘Jiban Shilpi Pramathesh Chandra Barua’ for Doordarshan on the Birth Centenary of the Maestro in 2003 which was adjudged as the best short documentary of the Prasar Bharati. He was also the maker of three very important documentaries, viz. ‘Abibhakta Goalpara Jillar Kuhila Shilpa’, ‘Charak Puja’ and ‘Ramrai Kuthi’. The first one is about the traditional Pith craft of the area, while the ‘Charak Puja’ is a ritual of the Western Assam, and ‘Ramrai Kuthi’ is about a Satra at the Western Assam established by the Vaisnahvite Saint Srimanta Sankardev. Another major work of Dada was a documentary on the cultural aspects of undivided Goalpara district titled ‘Goalpariya Loka Sanskritir Ruprekha’ in two parts, a detailed study of the Cultural aspects of Goalpara.

Dada has to his credit an anthology of some of his selected poems entitled ‘Krishnachura’ and a collection of selected stories ‘Sesh Ragini’. His ballad ‘Sashi Malati’ depicting a rural love story of ‘Sashi’ and ‘Malati’ which has received a high opinion of Dr. Prafulladatta Goswami and others. The popular TV serial ‘Maati’ is an adaptation of his story of the same name.

Dada’s notable work includes the preparation of notations of selected Goalpariya folk songs. He is the recipient of three prestigious awards including ‘Numaligarh Refinery Literary Award’, ‘Chatak Award’, ‘Michael Madhusudan Award’ from Kolkata.

Dada has several audio albums of Goalpariya songs. ‘Manat Pare’ is an album of his modern songs. ‘O Bandhu’ is another audio album of modern songs sung by several reputed artists under his music direction.

May his departed soul rest in eternal peace!

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