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Home > Mumbai Guide News > Things To Do News > Article > Aarey Forest finds a voice in hip hop Warli Revolt and Adivasi collaboration

Aarey Forest finds a voice in hip hop: Warli Revolt and Adivasi collaboration

Updated on: 10 July,2024 09:05 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Devashish Kamble | theguide@mid-day.com

A hip-hop collective will join an environmental activist from Aarey forest to present tracks coloured in protest, revolt and peace

Aarey Forest finds a voice in hip hop: Warli Revolt and Adivasi collaboration

Bhoir plays the dhol during a traditional performance in Aarey

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The reason you love your favourite song is probably because it’s relatable; it speaks to you and makes you feel seen. For the Adivasi community in the Aarey forests of Mumbai, these moments are few and far apart. It’s probably why Warli Revolt, a 2019 protest song by hip-hop collective Swadesi and activist Prakash Bhoir remains a constant on their lips even today. “It was the first time we felt seen, heard and understood,” shares Bhoir, who will join the collective to present the song along with newer works tomorrow.


Aklesh Sutar (left) shares the stage with Swadesi at a previous show in Mumbai. Pics Courtesy/Youtube
Aklesh Sutar (left) shares the stage with Swadesi at a previous show in Mumbai. Pics Courtesy/Youtube


“A five-minute song can bring a change that an hour-long speech probably can’t,” states Bhoir. The words to Warli Revolt, for instance, stem directly from protest slogans. “If not today, death will be upon us tomorrow. Why must we look back in fear then?” Bhoir recites in Marathi, over a call from his home in Kelti Pada, a hamlet in the interiors of the Aarey forest. “We turned this slogan into the hook of the song and it became an instant hit with listeners,” he adds.


Earlier this year in February, the two collaborated on a mellower composition titled Adivasi. Swadesi frontman Aklesh Sutar explains the change in tone, “Warli Revolt was about how the city was blind to the predicaments of the Adivasis and hence, aggressive. Adivasi is an exploration of the tribe’s symbiotic relationship with the forests; it emanates a feel-good vibe.”

As the artists prepare to take stage tomorrow, they give us a peek into what goes into producing Warli music. “We record audio clips from live performances by the tribes. Once we’re in the studio, these can be chopped and worked on digitally. The tarpa can prove to be a challenge owing to its distinct sound,” he reveals. Tomorrow, audiences will witness Manoj Dhinde, a young musician, step up to play the instrument alongside a dance crew from Aarey.

Prakash Bhoir with a pot adorned with Warli art in Kelti Pada, Aarey
Prakash Bhoir with a pot adorned with Warli art in Kelti Pada, Aarey 

With plans for the next song on the cards, the duo assures us that their songs will remain rooted in the cause of Adivasi betterment. “There exist misconceptions about the Adivasi way of life. Some think it’s unhygienic and primitive. The truth is that it’s the urban dwellers who breathe polluted air, consume adulterated food, and lead unhealthy lifestyles,” Sutar remarks.

Aklesh Sutar
Aklesh Sutar

Five years after their debut song blew up for its strong, unapologetic commentary on these misconceptions, Bhoir reveals how the story behind it is coloured in ironies. “I met the crew [Swadesi] during their visit to Kelti Pada in 2018. These were lanky boys with long, braided hair. I took them for a bunch of idlers. It was only when I sat down with them that I realised they were artistes with a cause. We all need an eye-opener sometimes, to let go of our judgments, perhaps,” he concludes.  

ON Tomorrow; 5.30 pm
AT Coomaraswamy Hall, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Fort. 
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