Known as the Bihu Queen of Assam and the North East, Bornali Kalita, who has graced Indian TV screens and blessed the airwaves for almost three decades with her power-packed music performances, has once again released an amazing number for fans and music lovers in Assam.

The song, released in April, is titled Xasi Thuwa Morom and regarded as both a vibrant peppy hip song and an inspirational melody. Written and composed by Neha Rabha, a partially blind music enthusiast and fan of Bornali, it was the latter’s love for the lyrics and composition of the song that sealed the deal.

Now a raving hit among music lovers in the North East, the song is enjoying hundreds of reels on social media as the vibrant Bihu music scene has once again gained a beautiful addition from its own decorated queen.

Deemed ideal for festivals, the mastery and dexterity of Bhaskar Medhi and Bhupesh Saikia comes to bear in this masterpiece. Even more exciting is the music video which features Sumi Bora and Bedanta Prakash. The video was directed by Apuraj Gogoi with choreographic planning and supervision by Sumi Bora.

Xasi Thuwa Morom is clear proof of Bornali’s consistency and depth in the music industry. Her journey is not just a potpourri of accolades and accomplishments, but also a sterling inspiration for newbies in the industry.

When Bornali first attempted singing, she was just two and a half years old. Her first recording came 18 months later at age 4 when she did a rendition on All India Radio, but it wasn’t until 1994 that she began singing professionally. To date, the playback singer has recorded more than 10,000 songs.

With popular music albums including Rangdhali, Moromjan, Maina, Autography, Bornali’s reign in Jollywooda term used to refer to the Assamese Music Industry – is nothing short of impactful. A thoroughbred singer, Bornali holds a Visharad in Hindustani Classical Music from Bhatkhande University and Sarbabharatiya Sangeet Parishad. She also received a Sangeet Ratna from Visva Bharati Sangeet University, Kolkata, in 1994. No wonder she’s made such a huge contribution to the Assam music scene with songs in Garo, Karbi, Khasi, Bodo and many other languages.

Perhaps, her love and inclination for music may be traced to her background. “I was born in Namrup. My Father was a nagara (a percussion instrument made of wood, iron, metal, and leather) player and my mother was a dancer and Bihu Rani at that time. Despite his busy job schedule at Namrup Fertilizer, he managed to keep himself associated with music. He was an active member of Gananatya Sangha, and got the privilege to work with Kalaguru Bishnu Rabha and Shri Jayanta Hazarika,” says Bornali.

Regardless of having an early start in the industry – singing at cultural shows and social gatherings at a tender age, and being selected for Yuvabani at All India Radio – her education was never compromised to the point of earning a master’s degree in English from Cotton University. It was her age-long passion and exposure to music that influenced her career decision. Bornali says she has known music all her life. “My guru Rukha Baruah used to teach me semi-classical numbers as I was too young to learn classical music.”

“I also learnt vocal singing from Lt. Pandit Hiren Sharma, while I did my Visharad from Bhatkhande University and Visva Bharati consecutively. I also did my Modern vocal training from Pt. Jayanta Bose, and I’m currently learning Western vocals from Trinity London, along with piano lessons,” she adds.

Beyond her numerous successful albums and numbers, Bornali has also been a constant feature in Bollywood through scores and musical recordings. “I got the opportunity to sing for a Telugu Blockbuster, the Hindi version of Satya in Love. Immediately after that, I was also called upon to sing for music composer Leslie Lewis in a folk album. It’s been one project after another since then. I have lent my voice for music director Anu Malik for the movie Yeh jo Mohabbat hai; for Sanjay Dutt’s productions in Hasmukh Pighal Gaye, as well as the title song for the documentary movie City of Dreams, among several others,” she shares.

After that, she did a song with popular music label, Times Music. It was titled, Piya Saaware, and got millions of views and love from around the nation. Currently, there are plans to do another one, Janena Dil with Sony Music. Her multilingual capacity is what has also opened several doors of opportunities for her in Jollywood and Bollywood. Her diction is also considered near perfect by many observers. As she admits, being a KVianc (an alumni of Kendriya Vidyalaya) meant there were little or no problems with her diction. But beyond that, she has been a good student.

“Let me tell you proudly that I scored the highest marks in Hindi in my HSLC exam. I learned Urdu too. So it’s been a fluent journey for me,” she adds.

Her musical prowess, sonorous voice, fascinating lyrics, and cultural depth have paid off over the years. Some of her noteworthy awards and recognitions include the Sudhakantha Dr Bhupen Hazarika Award, Assam Sahitya Sabha’s Axom Silpi Award, Assam Lekhika Santha’s Xur Silpi Award, as well as receiving a Khanjar and a Dinner Plate made of Silver from the King of Oman, and a Golden Chip from Kuwait for singing.

For entertainers around the world, the Covid-19 pandemic was a dark cloud above their careers. For Bornali, it was an opportunity to tap into her innermost being and produce songs that would uplift the spirit of people and help promote Covid-related and other social causes. “I have a small recording setup in my home. During the lockdown, I managed to record songs from my home setup for Covid-19 causes, anti drug abuse campaigns, and other social causes. I also did a series of covers, along with some modern songs too,” she notes.

“One of my songs, Gujar jayega yeh lamha was recorded and released during the lockdown by TIPS Industries, a music label and film production house. The song was a success and it starred superstars like Shuvangi Atre, Shahbaz Khan, Hiten Tejwani, Armaan Tahil, Swaroopa Ghosh, and many more. It was really nice to have worked with all of them from home during the quarantine period. I also recorded one of my melodious numbers Thikona during that time. It was written and composed by renowned songwriter and producer Palash Surya Gogoi.”

But beyond singing, Bornali picked up a few skills during the lockdown and took up some activities as well. From gymming and gardening, to cooking, she was able to shed about 32 kilograms. Her long-term ambition of setting up a music school also received a boost as she conducted several online classes and workshops on Borgeet, folk songs, Jyoti Rabha Sangeet, Bongeet, Lokogeet, Bhajans and Ghazals – all in one package. There were students from all parts of Assam, London and the US, motivating her to continue the classes.

Bornali considers her style as versatile and classically melodious with a touch of folk and pop, and says she only wishes to give back to society for the privilege, love and support she’s enjoyed all these years. ” I feel extremely fortunate and blessed when our pride Bharat Ratna Dr. Bhupen Hazarika once told me that whenever he lands in Assam he always listens to one of my songs AsinAyang Mane Ki, which is one of his favourite songs too,” adds Bornali.

There’s no stopping now for the playback singer and songstress. She has also shown her versatility in music by branching off the Bihu-style on several occasions, including in her Valentine’s day Tumi Mur Moi Tumar release. Now looking forward to her Rongali Bihu shows which is around the corner. There’s so much more this icon of inspiration is set to do in the burgeoning Assamese music industry and beyond.

Also read: Assam daily wager buys two wheeler with his savings in coins


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