Did You Know that Bhupen Hazarika and Hemango Biswas calmed the Assamese-Bengali conflict in 1960 with their music?

Hemango-Bhupen: A Song For Everyone
It is the story of the 1960 riots, which broke out after Assamese was made the State language. This triggered large-scale violence and arson across Assam, home to many Bengalis. It was then that legendary Bengali singer Hemango Biswas and Assam’s Bhupen Hazarika travelled with a peace caravan to pacify the mobs.

The duo travelled with a 30-member caravan across undivided Assam. The artists came from all walks of life, representing a very rich folk tradition of various communities of Assam. Predominantly, they were from the Assam chapter of the leftist cultural movement IPTA (Indian People’s Theatre Association).

With cracks resurfacing in the relationship between the Assamese and the Bengalis due to the updation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam, a documentary made by Rongili Biswas, daughter of Hemango Biswas, intends to serve as a reminder of how music brought peace to Assam during the language riots of 1960. As a precursor to the film, she has released online a music album, titled ‘Hemango-Bhupen: A Song for Everyone — Tales of the 1960 peace initiative against the linguistic riots in Assam’.

Ms. Biswas made the documentary, ‘A Song for Everyone’, with a grant from the Benguluru-based India Foundation for the Arts. The title has been borrowed from a poem on the mission, composed by the Bengal poet Shankha Ghosh.

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