Gaddar was not just a name, but an ideology — a slogan for the weak and the downtrodden.
Named at birth as Gummadi Vittal Rao, from Thoopran in the erstwhile Medak district in Telangana, balladeer Gaddar’s was a life full of dance and music.
Though he was an engineer by qualification and worked as a bank employee, he was attracted to revolutionary politics. While several artists and poets across the country have breathed life into many agitations, Gaddar’s life and his contribution to the revolutionary movement stands tall among them.
The revolutionary balladeer, born in 1949, bid adieu to the world on Sunday, 6 August.
A life filled with music
Music emanated from the soul and persona of Gaddar, and his espousal of Telangana folk music created a unique style of performance, like none other.
In his time as a revolutionary poet and singer, he joined Jana Natya Mandali and, after a point of time, it was not possible to imagine the troupe without him. Often called the cultural vanguard of the Indian revolution, the Jana Natya Mandali, played a significant role in reviving the Naxalite/Maoist movement in the Andhra Pradesh region in the 1970s.
With his ability to touch the hearts of the people with poetry, he took “elite” ideas like liberation and revolution to the masses. His songs spoke to the people in a dialect that they could understand, and he sang of their lives, telling their unheard stories.
Involvement in the Telangana movement
For 30 years, music followed Gaddar, to his step and tune, to his unique presentation and unprecedented style. So much so he became the guiding light, in terms of his writing and delivery, for many poets involved in many movements across the country.
His songs were a clarion call to those who wanted to take the path of revolution, and hundreds of youth took to that path thanks to his music.
After over 25 years of working for the revolution — and living for 10 whole years underground — he joined the people again in the 1990s and decided to become their voice.
In 1996, during the Telangana movement, his voice was the one that spread across the state, inspiring lakhs of people.
“Amma Telanganama, akali kekala gaanama” is an unforgettable song that drove the movement every step of its way, during that stage of the Telangana agitation. Hundreds of poets, singers and performers took forward the movement through the song, inspired by him.
In 1997, in a meeting at Ashoka Hall in Koti in Hyderabad, Gaddar sang this song as part of a 13-hour seminar and, at that point, it turned into a wake-up call for the Telangana movement.
Also read: The importance of Dalit voters in Telangana
Attempt on his life
On 6 April of the same year, there was an attempt on his life when he was shot at. The orchestrator(s) of the attack is still unknown.
Despite the attempt on his life, he did not back down from being the voice of the people. His contribution to the people’s movements was unparalleled and he cemented his place in the hearts of the people, the unheard and the unsung members of the struggle.
He had seen many ups and downs in his political life, but those never stopped him from being the representative of the poor and the weak.
Though he has now left his physical body, his soul is immortalised in his songs that continue to guide people’s and cultural movements.
His unforgettable contributions to the field of folk music will also continue to inspire many.