Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and other leaders are is Moscow to unveil the statue of Lok Shahir (balladeer) Annabhau Sathe at the All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature.
Who was Annabhau Sathe?
- Sathe’s work was immensely inspired by the Russian revolution and the Communist ideology. He was a member of the Communist Party of India (CPI), and featured among the selected authors from India whose work was translated in Russian.
- Tukaram Bhaurao Sathe, who later came to be known as Annabhau Sathe, was born in a Dalit family on August 1, 1920 in Maharashtra’s Wategaon village in Satara district.
- In 1930, his family left the village and came to Mumbai. Here, he worked as a porter, a hawker and even a cotton mill helper.
- In 1934, Mumbai witnessed a workers’ strike under the leadership of Lal Bawta Mill Workers Union in which he participated.
- During his days at the Matunga Labour Camp, he got to know R B More, an associate of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar in the famous ‘Chavdar Lake’ satyagraha at Mahad, and joined the labour study circle.
- Being a Dalit, he was denied schooling in his village. It was during these study circles that he learned to read and write.
How did he start writing songs, ballads and books?
- Sathe wrote his first poem on the menace of mosquitoes in the labour camp. He formed Dalit Yuvak Sangh, a cultural group and started writing poems on workers’ protests, agitations. The group used to perform in front of the mill gates.
- Progressive Writers Association was formed at the national level at the same time with the likes of Premchand, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Manto, Ismat Chugtai, Rahul Sankrutyayan, Mulkraj Anand as its members.
- The group would translate the Russian work of Maxim Gorky, Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev into Marathi, which Sathe got hooked on. It not only had an ideological impact on him, but inspired him to write street plays, stories, novels etc. In 1939, he wrote his first ballad ‘Spanish Povada’.
How popular was his work?
Sathe and his group travelled across Mumbai campaigning for workers’ rights. Out of the 49 years that he lived, Sathe, who began writing only after the age of 20, churned out 32 novels, 13 collections of short stories, four plays, a travelogue and 11 povadas (ballads).