Designation of ‘Jaya Jayahe’ as the official song of Telangana State might be politically expedient for various reasons. But truth be spoken, ‘song’ as such continues to be the unofficial insignia of the new-born State. Songs written, songs composed, songs sung and songs danced to, defined the Telangana movement since start to the end.
The hugely popular song ‘Podusthunna Poddu Meeda…’ by revolutionary balladeer Gaddar ignited passions of even the dispassionate, while the strident Vimalakka lending her voice to any song would force out tears.
Downloaded in thousands and played in lakhs as ring tones and caller tunes were many such songs including ‘Pommante Povera’ by Gorati Venkanna, ‘Gajjelu Gajjalu’ by Guda Anjaiah, ‘Vanamma Vanamma’ by Jayaraju, ‘Veerulara Vandanam’ by Daruvu Yellanna, ‘Nala Nalla Regalla’ by Vimalakka, ‘Nageti Sallallo’ by N. Siddha Reddy, and ‘Idi Telangana’ by Deshapathi Srinivas among many others.
Osmania University itself has produced scores of unacknowledged writer-singers. Many such as Rasamayi Balakishan sang their way to limelight.
Majority of the lyricists and singers are from backward sections of the society, especially Dalits, almost invariably tracking their roots to revolutionary movements that permeated the region through ‘80s. “Cultural uprising carried Telangana awareness into villages, before political movement. In fact, song has been the bulwark for every struggle here, including the Naxalite and Dalit movements. Many poets who wrote for the ‘T’ movement had roots in Naxalism,” says Guda Anjaiah. If song bolstered the Telangana movement, it weakened the Samaikyandhra movement by its absence.
“Samaikyandhra movement had only film songs to fall back on. Here, in districts such as Warangal and Karimnagar, every household has a singer, and every street has a writer,” says Naliganti Sharath, a lyricist-singer from OU. He too credits the cultural heritage to Left activism. In fact, Left, Dalit and Telangana movements have been part of the same continuum in the cultural history of Telangana, he feels. Renowned people’s balladeer Gorati Venkanna has a slightly different opinion. He says song and music are inherent in Telangana culture and borrowed by various movements.
“Song has been the companion of the outcasts all along. Telangana plains have been a source of intimacy with nature for shepherd boys, who would forget their misery by sharing it aloud with nature. It comes so naturally for them, that their wailing also has rhythm,” he says.