If Shillong created a national record in 2007 with the help of the legendary Bob Dylan, Guwahatians have their own Bhupenda to turn to. Jajabor 2012 proved this without an iota of doubt.
Northeast India’s tryst with the guitar seems to run deep. After Shillong, it is now the turn of Guwahati to come into the spotlight as a total of 5,406 guitarists strummed together to a tune of late Bhupen Hazarika last week to enter their way into the Limca Book of World Records for the largest guitar ensemble. Shillong had earlier created a national record for largest guitar ensemble in 2007.
The Guwahati guitar ensemble, Jajabor 2012, was organized by Hope events as a form of tribute to one of Assam’s legendary icons late Bhupen Hazarika. And unique it surely was. As 5,406 guitars from different parts of the Northeast, comprising teeny-bopping teenagers to men and women in the late fifties and sixties, strummed to the tune of the Bhupenda’s evergreen, Bistirno Parore Akhonkhyo Jonore, one could just fathom the deep-rooted reverence the people of Assam has for the man who first took Assam to the national cultural consciousness.
The guitarists played to the tune of Bhupen Hazarika’s song in a synchronised manner for about seven minutes drawing applause from the audience, even as memories of the late balladeer came flooding back in a rush. Emotions ran high as the participants, irrespective of age and harmony, strummed their guitars, of various colours, shapes and sizes in harmony.
Ankur Dutta, a member of the organizing team, said, “We had basically conceptualised Jajabor 2012 as an event to pay tribute to our beloved Bhupen da besides also trying to register a entry in the Guiness Book of World Records. Though we could not create the Guiness record, we did create a new Limca Book of Records.” Limca Book of Record’s representative Ismita Thomas, who had flown down to attend the event, had presented the organizers with a provisional certificate of the organization.
The current world record for largest guitar ensemble is held by Poland where 6,346 guitarists played together to a tune in 2009. Jajabor 2012 broke the country’s earlier record, which was created by 1,730 guitarists in Shillong who had played to the tune of Bob Dylan’s famous number Knocking on heaven’s door in 2007. “We are quite happy with our achievement because while Poland created the record as a country we have been able to achieve this as a State,” said one of the members of the Hope Event management group.
While Northeast India is known for housing an immense pool of talented musicians, there were initially doubts over the capabilities of Guwahati to hold such a guitar ensemble. “Shillong is the first name to come to mind whenever we talk of the guitar. Though there are a lot of guitarists in Guwahati, we were not really sure whether Guwahati could pull off the feat. Plus organizing an ensemble where so many people are involved is no mean feat as one has to make transportation provisions and also special arrangements for young children,” says Animesh Bhuyan, an amateur musician and rock and roll fan.
But pull off, it certainly did and how. As the weather gods threatened to play spoilsport with an overcast sky and occasional bursts of rainfall, enthusiastic Guwahatians waited in the sprawling Sarusajai stadium since morning, eager to set a new record. Assam Cultural Affairs Minister Pranati Phukan set the mood for the record by singing a few lines from Ganga Behti Ho Kyo, the baladeer’s famous Hindi version of one of his popular numbers. Bhupenda’s sister and well-known singer Sudakshina Sharma was also present to encourage the participants.
The tremendous response of Jajabor has bolstered the spirit of the organizers who have set their eyes on greater dreams – the Guiness Book of World Records. “Though we were optimistic right from the beginning, the tremendous manner in which people turned up for Jajabor has bolstered our spirits. We will organize another event next year where we will try to create a new world record,” said one of the organizers.
Bhupen da surely lives on in Assam and is likely to do so for ages to come. And, oh my, how!