Gaddar, a journey from the deep jungles to democracy
Born as Gummadi Vittal Rao in a poor Dalit family in Medak district of Telangana, he grew up amid difficult circumstances
Well-known Telangana folk singer, poet and balladeer Gaddar, who passed away at a private hospital here on Sunday at the age of 77, was a voice of the poor and oppressed during his lifetime.
Born as Gummadi Vittal Rao in a poor Dalit family in Medak district of Telangana, he grew up amid difficult circumstances.
However, his father, who had met Babasaheb Ambedkar and came under his influence, encouraged him to study, Gaddar had said in an interview.
The fiery singer and poet joined an engineering course in Hyderabad as a student but was drawn towards the revolutionary ideologies of the Dalit Panthers and the Naxalbari movement.
During the 1980s, he led an underground life, including in the forests, working as a cultural activist, and toured places like Abujhmarh in Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
In later years, Gaddar returned to the mainstream.
The man who was usually seen in his trademark dhoti, red shawl and wooden staff, switched to trousers and shirts in recent years and wore a clean shaven look.
He penned songs for films, and they became a sensation. His song 'Bandenaka bandi katti' in the 1979 film 'Maa Bhoomi' was one such hit.
The poet-singer went on to play a crucial role in the Telangana agitation before its success in 2014. His song ‘Podustunna Poddu Meeda Nadustunna Kaalama Poru Telanganama’ was hugely successful and galvanised the people towards the statehood agitation.
Often described in Telugu as 'praja yuddha nouka' (war ship of people's agitations), he had survived a bid on his life when assailants shot at him in the 1990s. However, a bullet got stuck in his spinal cord, with which he lived till the end.
It is only in the 2018 Telangana Legislative Assembly polls that Gaddar voted for the first time in his life.
He was last seen in a Congress public meeting addressed by Rahul Gandhi at Khammam in Telangana on July 2 where he hugged and kissed the Gandhi scion.
Recently he floated his own party 'Gaddar Praja Party' but soon fell ill and could not take it forward.