Anti-CAA protests become setting for hip-hop video

Updated: Dec 28, 2019, 07:47 IST | |

Swadesi, a music group, choose pulsating Azad Maidan on Friday as backdrop for their new single Kranti Havi

The musicians who make up Swadesi
The musicians who make up Swadesi

By Amruta Khandekar and P Vatsalya

At the anti-CAA protests that shook Azad Maidan in Mumbai on Friday, a group of young, vivacious artists added to the collective energy with their hard-hitting rap song. Swadesi, a hip hop collective, chose the chaotic, pulsating venue as the setting for their next masterpiece, 'Kranti Havi.' Akhilesh Sutar, 25, known by his stage name 'MC Mawali' says the name Swadesi symbolises the importance of local languages. "That's how we started. We rapped in our mother tongues and rapped about the socio-political issues we faced every day." Dharmesh Parmar or 'MC Todfod' and Saurabh Abhyankar or '100 RBH' were the other Swadesi rappers present at Azad Maidan.

Their mutual love for hip-hop and artistic expression led them to each other years ago. The collective consists of graffiti artists, producers, rappers, DJs and other artists dedicated to engineering change through their art. "All of us have our stories of how we met. Some of us became friends in college and some of us lived close to each other," reminisced MC Todfod.

Swadesi made their presence felt at the protest by shooting a music video guerilla style. The song 'Kranti Havi' is a part of their upcoming album titled 'Chetawni'. They are collaborating with Delhi-based artist Taru Dalmia, also known as Delhi Sultanate, for the song. "We didn't want to disturb anyone. We were trying to shoot as fast as possible so as to not inconvenience others. But it was important to us that we say our piece among the masses," said MC Todfod. Elaborating on their intention to shoot the video at Azad Maidan, 100RBH asserted, "we wanted to say in front of the people what we say on stage. We're the same everywhere, not double-faced."

The collective has always been politically conscious and vocally anti-establishment. "We were here for the farmers' protest, too," said MCs Todfod and Mawali. They previously sang about the 'Save Aarey' movement, to raise awareness about the trees being felled in Mumbai to make way for a Metro car shed. "Kranti Havi is about inspiring the youth to reject majoritarian propaganda. We should focus on the real problems like farmers' suicides, unemployment, etc. We don't want material comforts. We just want peace," said MC Mawali.

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