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Protima Barua Pandey was a folk singer and ethnomusicologist who sang the fold songs of Goalpara. She was the niece of filmmaker Pramathesh Barua. She was a member of the Gauripur royal family; her father was Prakitesh Chandra Barua (Lalji). She was popularly known as Hastir Kanya after one of her songs. Another song she often sang was ‘Mur Mahut Bandhu Re’, She was born in Calcutta and educated at Gokhale Memorial School, then at the Girls’ High School, Gauripur. She was never formally trained in music, but many members of the family were naturally musical. In 1955 Dr. Bhupen Hazarika visited Gauripur and attended a concert where the young Protima sang the songs of Goalpara to the dhol, junuka, dotora, darinda, dhuluki and flute. Dr. Hazarika was impressed and predicted that she would take Goalpariya folk music to great heights. She had great respect for her guru Bhaben Singha Roy, who was actually the chief mahout or elephant keeper in father’s stable. She married Gauri Shankar Pandey, principal of the Gauripur P. B. College. She was awarded the Padmashree and Sangeet Natak Akademi award. A documentary on her by Prabin Hazarika, Hastir Kanya, won a national award for best biographical film in 1997.
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