The Worm sees nuke salesmen crawling all over India!

A free-wheeling look at current events without an editor to hinder me!

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Namdeo Dhasal - a saga of unfulfilled potential

The tragedy of Namdeo Dhasal is where he has ended up today as against what he could have become.

During ones growing up years, Dhasal's was the voice of protest emanating from the labyrinths of Bombay. The balladeer who drove a cab through the narrow alleyways of Bombay. The son of a butcher who saw it all and set it to music. The rambling tones in free verse that ripped off the facade of a respectable city that one was raised in. Golpitha and the city's red-light district. Long before one became a journalist and ventured close to the cages that housed birds whose songs were long dead.

The songs of experience that quickly overwrote the songs of innocence from childhood.

Noted litterateur Dilip Chitre aptly calls Dhasal's "the voice of the lowest of the low, the scum of the earth". Unfortunately, it got muted early on and promised walk never followed the talk. For yours truly who learned to turn away from the Brahminism of his ancestors early in his teens the first stirrings of political awareness sadly coincided with the dying embers of Dhasal's Dalit Panthers. The first of the many crushes of adolescence that simply faded away.

The agitation over renaming the Marathwada University after Dr Ambedkar promised a Dalit uprising against the Marathas that never came about. Dhasal himself faded into the background consumed by alcoholism while his erstwhile comrades sought to rend asunder the legacy of Ambedkar.

The final blow came during the 1992-93 riots when the Dalits joined hands with old foe, the Shiv Sena to carry out a pogrom against the Muslims of Bombay.

Dhasal changed too. In a perverse example of Sanskritisation (where a backward caste as a group tries to raise its status by imitating the mores of a higher caste) Dhasal decided to sup with the RSS. The torchbearer of hardline Brahminical Hindutva that has only lip service on offer for the Dalits. Recent times have seen Dhasal share common platforms with RSS Sarsangchalak K Sudarshan. Little has been heard from him on the post-Godhra riots orchestrated by the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat. As his credibility waned Dhasal has in recent times been reduced to a shadowy figure flitting through literary functions scarcely noticed by the mainstream media.

So what a fall it is for Dhasal my countrymen when the old, ill suffering from myasthenia gravis, songbird of the gutters has to auction his manuscripts for a ticket to an international bookfair.

The Maharashtra government dominated by the powerful Maratha community couldn't careless about Dhasal. A mere trophy for his new-found friends from the RSS the crumbs thrown at him have disappeared a long time ago.

Heaven could have been at his feet, but Namdeo Lakshman Dhasal is on the road begging for an air-ticket!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

your blog on namdeo dhasal reeks of middle classness, bramhinical patronising tone, and a very linear thinking... one need not see a life like namdeo's with your mindset of a career. you had to make it a point to talk about his alchoholism... why should everybody be like your ilk who should grow step by step and continue to be 'good' and 'successful', and lead a secure retired life. all this goes against the very spirit of Dhasal. May be you should read his poretry again, and I would be happy to see a review of one of his poems on your blog. I am not from Maharashtra, but I wish we had more poets like Dhasal. He is a great role model...

12:11 PM  

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