India has lost one of its eloquent voices that spoke of and highlighted the plight of the poor.
When a society is under authoritarian rule, and traditional media fails to play its role to awaken people to injustices being meted to them, it forces communities to look at alternative sources of hope. Today, it might be the social but in a bygone era, the alternative medium of folk songs and folk literature, which touched lives of people.
The Congress party and revolutionaries used this medium to an acme of impact during the freedom struggle to rally people against the British reign. Several mass movements pressed poets and singers into services to spread its message against feudalism and oppression. One such poet, who became the voice of his people, was Gummadi Vithal Rao, popularly known as Gaddar, the revolutionary balladeer.
The man inspired hundreds of thousands of people with his songs, which were simple yet powerful, didactic and evocative. Even those who disagreed with his avowed philosophy and early political outlook, could not deny the ability of Gaddar to bring together and inspire people.
Two such songs, rated as outstanding and likely to remain in popular recall are Bandi Enaka Bandi Katti from movie Maa Bhoomi and Podusthunna Poddumeda from movie Jai Bolo Telangana, which not inspired people against the atrocities of feudal lords in Telangana but also served as anthems and rallying call songs.
Gaddar, born in a poor Dalit family at Toopran village in the-then Medak district in 1949, eschewed a job in a state-run bank that could have helped him to lead a stable and comfortable life to join a revolutionary movement started by the CPI-ML (People’s War). As a part of Jana Natya Mandali, which subscribes to the Marxist-Leninist ideology, he raised the issues of poor people through his songs.
When the Chenna Reddy-led Congress government relaxed the ban on the People’s War Group (PWG), Gaddar came out of hibernation and took on issues affecting the lives of people. He spurred people to join the agitation to achieve statehood for Telangana.
With his death, India has lost one of its eloquent voices that spoke of and highlighted the plight of the poor, which otherwise goes unheard in the corridors of power.