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Gaddar, a Legend


Hundred Flowers was a literary organisation aligned to a Maoist group which sprang up in Delhi in the seventies. The socio-political changes along with literary and cultural aspirations of that time brought me close to a feeling that was even closest to my heart and mind. Protest poetry, Protest ballads and Protest street theatres was the order of the day.

I look back and wonder, yet each poem recited, each theatre performed, each irregular underground paper we brought out and distributed did make some dent in the routine flow of ideas of the common man. Was it really worth it?

Somewhere we lost the rage and urge in an urban jungle and melted into an everyday mediocrity. Gaddar instead carried on with the movement that we all once dreamed of.

Gadar popularly known in Andhra Pradesh as Gaddar is the Balladeer Extraordinary who has survived assassination bids, his songs and performance poetry has extolled millions of dalits and the underprivileged.

‘No death for the song of people’s war’
- A Slogan condemning the attack on Gaddar.

Gummadi Vittal Rao, popularly known as ‘Gaddar’ established himself as a household name in Andhra society. Vittal Rao changed his name to Gaddar as a tribute to Gadar Party of Punjab under the leadership of Hardayal who gave a stubborn resistance to British colonial exploiters between 1913 and 1930 From mid seventies to eighties he wrote songs on martyrs of revolutionary struggle.

One of his popular songs that he sings with gusto –
‘in spite of being born into a blacksmith’s family I don’t have sickle and hammer…’

Another song –
‘this village is ours and every work is done by us .Then, who is this Dora (landlord)? What is his greatness? What right does he have to exercise power over us? ‘

Another song in Hindi -

Jago re…
Jagore jago jago
Duniyaka dushman hain Amerika Rashya
Unke dalal hain Tata Birla
Unkee gulam hai deshkee netha
Unkke chenche hai gavkee jalim
Inke ladana hai jagore’

Gadar and his Jan Natya Mandali (JNM) used folk lores, folk tunes, dholak and dappu. He gripped his audience through his powerful tunes. On February 18, 1990 at Nizam College Grounds in Hyderabad, a staggering 200 000 people came to watch Gaddar and his group performing.

Since then he has travelled fearlessly to Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and Maharashtra and recently to Pune where he was given a hero’s welcome. At a press conference in Pune, accusing the Left parties of straying from their original philosophy, he said, “Communistonka jhanda lal hain lekin unka dil kala hain”

A salute to a people’s hero at a time during the elections when the common man is made to believe by the ruling establishment and the so called opposition that they are the best to lead them, a man wearing a shawl, dhoti and wielding a stick gives them hope by singing and asserts to a nonviolent struggle for their just rights.

This article originally appeared on


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