In a tale of neglect and apathy of an unsung music maestro of undivided Darrang (presently Darrang, Udalguri and Sonitpur) district of Assam, Sisir Kumar Suni is now 85 years old and is confined to the periphery of his home.
Suni is still optimistic about systemic research and practice of traditional folk culture of Assam in their original style. Although forgotten by present day singers, producers and directors of Assamese cine and music world, Suni still keeps himself engaged with his never-ending musical activities in his home at sleepy Bengbari village, five kilometres away from Tangla town.
Age could have restricted his bodily movements, but his spirit and talent is still undaunted in search for new ventures. It was in his maiden effort that Bodo folk dance ‘Kherai’ was performed on stage for the first time during 1955. ‘Kherai’ dance had never been performed on stage till then.
He was also the first music director of Bodo modern song broadcast through the All India Radio, Guwahati in 1977. Suni will always be cherised as the founder of Bodo musical notation in Assam. He was the person involved with the book ‘Gwthang Denkhw’ published in 1994.
Suni also composed notation on ‘Kamrupiya Lokageet’ in a book titled ‘Sodomsri’ published from Barama in 1995. Suni composed more than hundred songs which have already been published in books namely – ‘Jaydhwani’, ‘Palas Phular Botarote’, ‘Denkwo Bidang’, ‘Gwdan Denkhwani Methai’, ‘Swrang Lama’, ‘Bodo Bhajan’, etc.
He composed Assamese notations of modern songs, Jyoti Sangeet, Rabha Sangeet, Bhupendra Sangeet, Kamrupi folk songs, Bihu songs, etc. and also have trained many students in his lifetime.
Preferring to maintain a very low-profile life, this octogenarian music maestro has now been living alone at Bengbari in Udalguri district. He neither gets provoked with anyone nor does he complain. He loves to spend his leisurely period playing violin although he has mastery over other musical instruments namely – Spanish Guitar, Hawain Guitar, Mandolin, Piano, Organ, Accordion, etc.
Suni had been a close associate of Kalaguru Bishnu Rabha, who had been a regular visitor to his house at Bengbari during early days when the Kalaguru had remained underground.
Sisir Kumar Suni was born on November 20 in 1932 at Bengbari. He was the eldest son of Dr James Suni and singer Giribala Suni. Completing his primary education at Bengbari LP School, he joined Bengbari Mission School in 1942.
He also established Bengbari ME School in association with late Nabin Chandra Medhi, Mouzadar of Harisinga Mouza and worked as an Honorary Assistant teacher.
Talking to Northeast Now, Suni expressed unhappiness at the present day status of Assamese ethnic folk songs and dances. “If not preserved with notations, all will be lost in the midst of remix culture,” said Suni.
He was also critical of government policy towards singers, actors and musicians. “Anybody with radio and TV background gets government recognition leaving behind genuine artists,” he said. He mentioned about Dr Nirmal Prabha Bordoloi, Mukul Barua and Pulak Banerjee as his most favourite artists of Assam. Unfortunately, even after so much of his contributions towards the Assamese music industry, Sisir Suni is yet to receive government pension or recognition.