gorati venkanna on rayalaseema: warlords and pawns

update: i thought i'd attempt a translation and add some background notes, but something else is on my mind right now, so i think i'll do it some other day.


Kiran said...

But one thing I dont understand about Goreti Venkanna and Gaddar is why do they associate themselves with Telangana separatism? Do they not know that it is an out and out dora movement? Once led by a Reddy and now by a velama? How do they lend voice to a movement which is not only casteist but vulgar, spiteful and possesses incredible crassness and also threatens to split dalits in to Andhra dalits, T dalits, R dalits etc ?

What exactly is their calculation ?

anu said...

>> threatens to split dalits in to Andhra dalits, T dalits, R dalits etc ?

splitting is a notion when we believe there was/is some unifying feature among the dalits, right? i am out on a limb here, not at all informed about dalit politics (or any) in AP. When poverty is the overarching life truths, powerful feelings and emotions centered around simply surviving everyday can be manipulated with ease by anyone; be it becoming foot soldiers of the hindutva or killing and maiming each other.

Kiran said...

In AP dailts belong primarily to two castes - Mala and Madiga. They are spread through out the state in all the regions. While they are not as well politically organized as some other castes they do have some political organizations.

anu said...

Thanks Kiran. Madigas in Karnataka and Tamilnadu, who speak a dialect of Telugu have unique problems with the way reservations have been accessed (not) by them. They continue to be segregated into the most degrading professions and have dismal prospects of aspiring for a decent life. And have been struggling to raise awareness of these issues and recently made some progress in TN, this seems a bit different from the scene in AP -if they are a larger community than in other regions..!

gaddeswarup said...

Can you post this in your Telugu blog too?

Crazyfinger said...

This is not translatable. How does one translate the fever in the body one experiences listening to him...? This particular poem / song may convey an apparent political message, but that is just so only for eyes and ears far distant. At the heart of it I see a primal defiance filled with a kind of thrown-ness and laughter that only exists in the midst of a death machine. There are millions whose hearts beat like that of this poet. And where they are...is home!

Regards, Crazyinger

anu said...

"This is not translatable" : Geworfenheit? Heidegger comes in handy especially if action can be turned to inaction. When it is others lives, every atrocity can be explained, the poet with his untranslatable verse and us with our confusion or rationalizing. I find it very interesting when a small window is open for dialog with others –sensitive liberals who feel the pain like SS and CF here, and others elsewhere –either hastily withdraw or hold up Heidegger, Fanon and subaltern theories to explain away the blood on each and everyone of our hands….. I understand only a few words in this recitation, but this kind of amusing-bitter interactions with liberals on the web, inspires me to shut up and go the machete, knives and separatism way. English or vernacular, words only do that much, why bother translating.

kuffir said...


sorry about responding late- that venkanna is singing about the marginalized in rayalaseema tells us a lot about him. so, why does he support separatism etc- there are some serious problems in telangana which don't lose their significance just because some greedy upper caste politicians take them up- in fact, they take them up because they find significant people's interest in those issues..water for irrigation and drinking for instance- the ysr and earlier govts seem so keen on projects like polavaram etc which take *additional* water to some districts in andhra and rayalaseeema but don't show any interest in providing drinking water for starved regions of nalgonda, mahbubnagar, medak and ranga reddy etc.

these and some other issues as long as they are not sincerely addressed (and addressed first in order of priorities when irrigation projects are planned because they've been long pending)-and i believe these issues can be easily addressed- .... there'd be recurrent demands for separation- and people like gaddar, venkanna need to respond to them. and upper caste parties like trs will exploit them...perhaps, this requires another post.

thanks for your observations.

kuffir said...

swarup garu,

thanks for the suggestion. the clip has been telecast over television several times over the last one year- i'm assuming many people who understand telugu might've seen it- at least in a.p. those who do not have access to local telugu channels, or living abroad might wish to see it, yes..


the problems of unequal access to reservations and other so-called benefits could seriously jeopardize political unity, as achieved in some states like uttar pradesh, among the dalits in the future. this issue needs to addressed, seriously.


long time- missed your comments. welcome back :)

Crazyfinger said...

Anu -

One ought to listen to the song. Anyone who lived in AP (or any other state for that matter), experienced the smell, the taste, the dust, the rage of what we see here in this song, and can recollect all that rock-like intransigence of both the prejudice and of the wish to do something violent to see it go away will have an intimacy with the newly dead in ways that is hard to translate. This is when you feel every life is the life of the other, including one's own. When you really experience all of this, you are amazed at the subdued grace that swells in this song. After all this is a song, and he is performing for an audience. His rage in this song has surpassed the anger and is almost turned into a benediction, almost, but not quite, not in so straightforward way. That you can't translate is in his voice, not in the words. Songs like these decode experience without losing the message. When you translate the words of a song that is as deeply enmeshed with the realtime as this song, you translate just that, a pack of words detached from the realtime experience. Actually I think the medium of blogs and "dialog" in them is not experienced enough to discuss, read, translate and experience songs like these.

Regards, Crazyfinger

anu said...

CF, the above is a beautifully worded review for a song, it is a long time since I read a well-written piece about an Indian experience.

That said, I am not from AP and I want to experience the song, not the words – there are tools available to do word translations.

We’ve gone over this disagreement before, where I see a number of Telugu friends who wax poetic about Gaddar but shy away from attempting to translate. These iconic poets and singers are not singing Raag Malhaar, their words (and voice) have an immediacy that is meant to inspire, give courage and strength to people caught up in this death machine as you call it. We need them to be translated, for what happens in AP happens elsewhere too. These songs have to transcend their linguistic and geographic limitations. This is vital. I cannot emphasize it more.

It is mighty frustrating when people like you who can at least capture a partial expression while reproducing it, step back and say this is not translatable. And just become an audience. Please pardon, but I have to disagree, they are not performing for an audience, they are mobilizing a people. Towards a better day.

While reading your previous comment I was sharply reminded about how often and invariably Indians will seek the help of western philosophers and reformers to explain what is going on here. The complete refusal to acknowledge that each and every one of us have a nasty role in the blood, gore and hunger of marginalized people, unnerves me, making me believe there is indeed two separate India’s.

RE: Blogs, again, Deja vu, I think I‘ve told you before we don’t have any other medium, blogs are the only tenuous handle we have at this point and this is where ‘dialog’, translation, transformation has to be attempted, for those of us who are not wielding machetes.

Finally, I read your comment at a bad time, none of this justifies my unfair comment to you and SS. I apologize! Peace :)

kuffir said...


yes the comment was lovely, as anu says.


i agree with you- have been trying to find the original lyrics for some of these songs- which is difficult they all are written by 'the people' as gaddar says, a lot of times. and it is true- most of the original content, tunes came from 'the people', including unlettered, unknown poets.

as i said, i'm trying to translate some- some are in my dashboard for long...and for you, i shall translate this soon- i'm as unmindful of the consequences, and the theorists, as some of those bomb throwers and sickle-wielders in the video :)

SS said...

No apology needed! Your criticism is valid. May I just say: Guilt is inherited, too, just as injustice is in this country.

anu said...

Kuffir, you are kind! additions to your one of a kind collection of rare translated poems would be wonderful :)

SS, you are lovely and yes, guilt can be a powerful motivator.

Kiran said...

HI Kufr,
I checked out goreki venkanna's other poems and his performances on T separatist platforms. To his credit he just stick to songs, poems etc and never took any serious part in seperatist movement - just like Gaddar. But we you take away the powerful context of caste oppresion I found his poems to quiet pedestrian like here http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=4962591885435955939&ei=3Vh9SrOpN5St-Aafhrn2Dg&q=goreti+venkanna&hl=en. Infact they are a bit on the offensive.

As an artist its quiet understandable that he seeks an audience some atention which T movement was willing to give.

But I was very suprised at your reply whereyou choose to give a regionalistic intrepretation to water issue. I know your post is not really a complete articulation of what you think on this but taken at its face value you seem to be endorsing the TDF way of looking at issues.

No water in mahboobnagar you say but is there much in Kurnool which also borders Krishna at the south? Or are you suggesting that people of T are somehow more important than people of R ?Also when did YSR become a Rayalseema leader ? Are you suggesting that he feels more accountable and responsible to dalits of Rayalseema than Reddy's of telangana ? He is taking the pothyreddypady water to Brahmani steels which btw was a set up a Karnataka person of BJP party! the common line - he is a reddy! What did YSR did for AnanthaPOOR ?

In they eyes of T separatism Goreti venkaana stands no chance when compared to glamorous andhra accent speaking Vijayshanthi who was quickly elevated to no.2 in TRS. If god forbid separate t comes up KCR will fancy Nagarjuna or Chiranjeevi in his cabinet than venkaana or gaddar.

I maybe reacting a bit sharply here but I strongly belive that t seperatism requires condemnation as uncompromising and as rigorous as you do against caste system. Any grey area, any hesitation any think backing will just work in to hads of KCR. He is running the political movemement not Venkaana or Gaddar,

Anonymous said...

Goreti Venkanna is great guy, for your information..every body fighting about Telangana just for development, i request all before talking about telangana pls go and see the problems, then u will change your mind and support for seperate telangana..RAVI

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