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August 1: Annabhau Sathe jayanti

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From Aug Print Issue

Where today’s media is found to be crawling in front of the democratic regime, which is painted with colors except rainbow and is pure white only when its proprietor, the State gives kafans to its citizens and people, the time when the government has underlined artists to award legal cases against them, to the form of every freedom ban, the public spectacle of Annabhau appears as an inspiration to stand against these forms of oppression. Hopefully, his street literature and art will continue to challenge this form of democracy.

Annabhau Sathe was from the Dalit Matang community of Sangli district of Maharashtra. Due to his caste and poverty, he could not study in childhood. He left the school in very initial days and did not tolerate the caste discrimination in the school. Then due to the drought, at the age of 11, his family migrated to Mumbai’s Byculla.

Annabhau Sathe was attracted to two things in Mumbai – a political organization and silent films. He taught himself from the posters of films and advertisements that were displayed in the street lanes. He started his career as a mill worker, then after experiencing the intense political life of Mumbai’s dharna, meetings, satyagraha and protest, he joined a tamasha group. Sharp voice of Annabhau, his ability to play various tools like harmonium, tabla, drum, bullbull, made him star in the world of street politics. Because he himself had worked in many domains of struggle, his words and thinking always reached the last person of the society.

During the freedom struggle of India, the Joint Maharashtra Movement and the Goa Liberation Movement, he contributed a lot towards social awareness. He participated in every program and protests as an artist. His Lavani, Powwada was the background of art and kept the road dancing on his literature and music. Working as a journalist for a weekly newspaper in 1945, he became extremely popular. While working in the same newspaper, he wrote dramas like Aklai’s story, Khapriya Chor and Majhi Mumbai. Between 1950 and 1962, many of his novels were published which include Vaijayanta, Maqdicha Mall, Chikhalatil Kamal, Wernecha Vagha, Fakira. His red bawatta (leftist art stage) and Tamasha was banned by the government, after which he converted them into a folk song, and the law of the land became powerless as his words and music penetrated the state boundaries and reached to the masses.

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