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Kanhaiya’s ‘Azadi’ slogan inspires an infectious song

Pushpavathy Poypadathu in concert.

Pushpavathy Poypadathu in concert.

Video of song composed by Pushpavathy Poypadathugoes viral

When Pushpavathy Poypadathu first heard the ‘Azadi’ slogans that Jawaharlal Nehru University students union leader Kanhiaya Kumar made on the campus soon after his release, two things struck her: its heady rhythm and the issues encapsulated in those few lines.

It so inspired her that soon she sat down to compose a song using these slogans. Two weeks ago, student leaders from universities and other institutions across the country came together at Thrissur for an event, ‘People against fascism’. As they entered the Sangeetha Nataka Akademi hall, after marching in the streets, Pushpavathy was on stage to welcome them with the infectious ‘Azadi’ song.

“That rendition got a great reception and all of them joined together in singing with me. I ended up singing two encores of that song,” says Pushpavathy.

Now, a video of that song, with visuals of various students’ struggles, has gone viral on social networks. Trained in Carnatic music, Pushpavathy completed her studies with first rank from Chembai Memorial Government Music College, Palakkad.

The public in Kerala is familiar to her voice through two hit songs — Kaathu kathoru mazhayathu fromNammal , Chembavu Punnellin from Salt N Pepper and Maanathe chandanakkeeru fromVikramadityan .

But even as the songs topped the charts, the singer hardly got noticed, which she attributes to the ‘caste and colour’ discrimination prevailing in the industry.

“I was never called for any mega stage programmes organised by the industry. I have heard other vocalists singing these songs on stage. When I talk about discrimination, people ask me whether it’s as prevalent in the Malayalam industry. But, I have experienced it, though they are diplomatic about it here and use other reasons to avoid you,” she says. When she read Hyderabad University scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide letter, it affected her deeply and troubled her mind for several days, she says.

In 2004, in a response to increasing communalism, she released an independent album with Malayalam translations of Kabir’s Dohas.

A few years later, she composed an album based on Sri Narayana Guru’s Deivadashakam and other writings. Last year, it was moral policing which spurred her creativity. This time, she composed songs based on Madhavikutty’s Ente Katha.

Over 4.31 minutes longs song ends with a tribute to the comarades with lyrics Laal Salaam, Red salute…Big salute to comrades.


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