Telangana folk singer and activist, Gaddar, passes away

Gaddar, a popular folk singer and activist from Telangana, passed away on August 6, 2023.

singer gaddar
© Batthini Vinay Kumar Goud, CC BY-SA 4.0

Gaddar suffered from heart disease and was hospitalized on July 20, 2023. Despite a bypass surgery on August 3, he died from lung and urinary complications.

Early Life

Born in the Toopran village of Medak District, Gummadi Vittal Rao later took on the name Gaddar, based on the Gadar party that opposed British rule in India. He was identified as a ‘People’s Singer’ owing to his choice of musical pursuits and political leanings.

Joins CPI (ML)

Drawn to the communist ideology, he joined the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People’s War in the 1980s, played a key role in its cultural wing, and performed his songs to spread the message of social justice and revolution.

Tryst with the silver screen

He sang in Telugu, Urdu, Hindi, and English, using various folk forms and instruments. He also wrote lyrics for movies such as Maa Bhoomi, Orey Rikshaw, and Jai Bolo Telangana. Despite winning two Nandi Awards, he turned them down as a protest against government policies.

Gaddar performed in many states, including West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Bihar, and in countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

A key figure in Telangana’s separate statehood protests

Gaddar played a vital role in Telangana’s statehood, as he believed that a separate statehood would uplift the lower castes.

He also formed the Telangana Praja Front, a political party advocating a separate Telangana state with social justice.