By Dr. Navanil Barua
It’s been nearly six decades when a great lyric penned and composed by a great composer. The song is none other than the famous-
Kolore Patote Kauri Pore, immortalized by the great Khagen Mahanta.
Long ago, in the then capital city of the Shillong, to be precise – in a small house at Kench's trace, Reilbong, a couple turned up at the doors. The house owner, a bachelor, came out to greet the guests. “Can we meet Mr. Rudra Barua ?" , the gentleman enquired. “I am Rudra Barua" , the young host replied. “Are you? We expected an older man" the guest remarked. At that point, the guest couple started quarrelling, the wife accusing him of indiscretion. The guest couple was none other than the Late Keshab Mahanta and Nikunjalata Mahanta. I have always seen Peha and Pehi crossing swords publicly in their own inimitable style of love till his death!
The couple had come to meet Rudra Barua for two reasons. One, they wanted the later to take under his tutelage a young boy from Nagaon, who came to Shillong to join St Anthony's college. The other, to set tune to a song Late Keshab Peha had composed which many have tried to set tune to but failed. The young boy of yesteryears is who is known as KHAGEN MAHANTA. The song happened to be " kolore patote kauri pore…! Late Rudra baruah polished Khagen Mahanta into the singer he became. He then gave the composition a tune, which brought it to life ! So difficult was it to tune that no one could even come close to the final tune. Rudra Barua understood the ethos of the song and gave a tune which was lively yet captured the tragedy of a postman's life doing full justice to the wonderful composition. When he sung the song to Late Keshab Mahanta, the later was ecstatic! “this is it" , he exclaimed. Late Rudra Barua started singing it though I never heard him sing it live. He taught it to his pupil Khagen Mahanta who simply mesmerized the audience at all Assam Music conference at Cotton Collge with this song and a new singing star was born. He later on went to record it in Kolkata and till date it remains one of the most heard Assamese songs.
Once, after my father's death, Late Bhabendra Nath Saikia told me about how well my father sang this song. I was curious, never having heard him sing this song. My curiosity was somewhat put to end by my cousin, Santikam Hazarika (SEBA) who handed us a tape with the recording of this song in my Father's voice sung at some wedding. NO WONDER! Late Dr Bhabendra Nath Saikia was correct. He was amazing in singing this song! Why then did he never sing this song in public or otherwise? The reason is equally amazing! After Dhan Mama (Khagen Mahanta) recorded this, Rudra Barua never wanted people to compare his rendition with that of his young pupil and put the later in any unfair situation. He simply stopped singing the special song which he tuned from begining to end and also took the end part to even higher notes. Amazing person, Luit Konwar Rudra Barua was. On this day of his death anniversary, I pen these words as a tribute from a proud son to his departed great father. Deuta, may you bless us from wherever you are. It’s been 33 years (14 February, 1980) since you left us but a tear still wells up when I remember all the greatness you had in yourself.