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Members of Samata Kala Manch served notices for standing by the side of truth

Members of Samata Kala Manch and Kabir Kala Manch perform on Saturday.

{ Suvarna Salve- (activist of  Samata Kala Manch) was mistakenly reported as Suvarna Kale }


For anyone who has attended a protest in Mumbai recently, Suvarna Kale’s voice is readily recognisable. Armed with newer versions of verses made famous by former JNU Students’ Union leader Kanhaiya Kumar, supported by dafli beats, Kale is one of Mumbai’s rising lok shahirs. Singing songs of resistance, interspersed with chants of “Jai Bhim” and “Inquilab Zindabad,” she is creating a new expression of solidarity and resistance in a city infamous for its political apathy. Suvarna is not alone. Ever since massive protests broke out against the contentious legislation last month, a battalion of poets and rappers, and singers and shayars, have hit the streets across the country as a mark of dissent. Undeterred by lack of police permissions or prospects of detention, and with no access to microphones or loudspeakers, they’re using easy-to-sing chants and verses as their preferred medium to speak up. From August Kranti Maidan to Shaheen Bagh, young Indians are taking to protest music faster than they would to Bollywood lyrics. And this is the voice of our generation.

For Suvarna, who is also a part of the Samta Kala Manch, the cultural wing of the Republican Panthers, singing is in itself an act of resistance: “Sufis were not allowed to sing, neither was Tukaram. So today songs are a form of resistance in a cultural struggle against those who want to tell us what to wear, what to eat and how to live.”

As the evening skies turned to shades of dark blue and violet, the trees echoed with several songs including one written by the prominent activist and poet of 1990s, Vilas Ghogre and performed by the cultural group Samta Kala Manch.

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