A voice of dissent, as one may describe him, would be an understatement. As a conscientious activist, he was never afraid to speak out his mind. With just a guitar for company, he launched relentless campaigns for over two decades, rendering songs that carried a social commentary on issues that touched him. Unlike the protest rallies by various political parties and organizations, there was no pandemonium or hullabaloo, but dignity in his approach, yet it attracted the attention of pedestrians. His calm, cheerful disposition endeared him to everyone.
But everything came to a standstill. The lonely crusader will no longer be found roaming the streets of Guwahati again. There will be nobody to protest on behalf of the poor and the downtrodden anymore, at the same time, nobody to speak out the contemporary ills and vices confronting humanity. Humanity has sustained a grievous loss by the premature death of this immensely gifted personality. It was a rude shock, but the aura that he has created around his personality is so strong that it’s unlikely to disappear in a hurry. This very familiar figure, a pillar of strength in times of trouble, is none other than the State’s eminent musician and humanist Kishour Giri.
The heightened social awareness that set him apart from others was to some extent ingrained from the days when he was an indispensable part of the progressive socio-cultural organization ‘Aikyatan’ in the late Seventies and Eighties. After a stint with illustrious musician Loknath Subba, from whom he learned to play instruments like the guitar, the mandolin and the violin, it was here that a young Kishour Giri discovered his hidden gift for teaching music. He passed on his enormous skill to a number of pupils. His engaging personality helped create a friendly and warm atmosphere among his students, for whom he was a teacher, guide and a friend, which sustained for several years. He also led the students in various cultural performances held in the State. And it was here that Kishour Giri came into contact with a number of people and eminent personalities from various walks of life. His convictions about social issues and affairs of the human heart held him dear to everyone.
Kishour Giri was like an ever reliable lieutenant to my father, founder-member of Aikyatan, and eminent litterateur, late Pabitra Kumar Deka, who was always happy to have him around him. He became acquainted with my father’s self-assembled collection of music from all over the world, many of which he later incorporated into his own works. Giri, of course, became a major contributor and an important team member to various shows and events organized by Aikyatan.
While his output as a music director was relatively small, but his music for serials like ‘Aei Chaharate’, ‘Papu Niku Sambad’, ‘Dhaniramor Dhan’, ‘Tezal Ghora’ among others, will always be remembered by music lovers and fans. Giri had scored music for various plays performed by amateur groups of the state. He had also left a signature stamp with his soulful music in Prodyut Kumar Deka’s movies – ‘Samiran Barua Ahi Ase’ and ‘Surjyasta’. It was Kishour Giri who recorded the voice of noted Khasi musician Lou Majaw in Assamese for the first time for the theme song of ‘Surjyasta’. The song helped to create a cultural bridge between the two states.
In his passing, the state has indeed lost a committed social worker and activist, whose accomplishments and outstanding qualities will always be remembered.