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Dalit trailblazer, Vira Sathidar succumbs to Covid-19

Although renowned for his work as an actor, Sathidar preferred to be known for his activist-work that voiced the plight of the Dalit community

Sabrangindia 13 Apr 2021

artist Vira Sathidar

Cultural activist, Editor and artist Vira Sathidar also known as Vijay Ramdas Vairagade passed away due to Covid-19 on the intervening night of April 12 and April 13, 2021. The stoic figure of the anti-caste movement breathed his last at the age of 61 years at a hospital in Nagpur.

Most people recognise Sathidar as the lead actor in the Oscar-nominated Marathi movie ‘Court.’ However, his own life narrated a story of a Nagpur-born cowherd, who took an interest in folk art and music, and went on to become the Editor of Marathi bi-monthly magazine ‘Vidrohi’ as well as a democratic rights activist.

His own parents worked with Dalit icon Dr. B.R. Ambedkar but they were unable to ensure a future in academics for Sathidar. So he worked in a Nagpur factory where he learnt about Leftist ideology. Years later, as a member of the Republican Panthers, Sathidar was one of the organisers of the Elgaar Parishad.

He defended the ‘Aajchya Peshwaishi Mukabala Karnyasathi Kamar Kasuya’ (Let us prepare to fight the New Peshwas) pamphlet that described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a Peshwa successor and quoted Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as saying, “The last option to preserve human values is to take up arms.” Rather than calling the pamphlet “provocative” Sathidar said the words were direct quotes from Ambedkar’s article from August 1940.

After being accused in the electricity theft case along with fellow Editor Sudhir Dhawale, the Ambedkarite claimed to have become disillusioned by the Indian judiciary and the democratic system. Accordingly, he told interviewers that he did not struggle to play the role of Narayan Kamble because he had suffered similar instances in court and with police. Sathidar and his son were booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for selling books with “objectionable” literature in Chandrapur in 2006. Later, authorities filed a closure report.

Such police oppression lessened somewhat after the ‘Court-associated’ fame. However, despite the favourable reviews and his additional work in “Aadha Chand Tum Rakh Lo” short film and “Chronicles of Shree” Musical short, Sathidar considered himself more of a poet, writer, singer and lyricist. Although he told The Hindu he hoped to direct his own film one day.

As the news of his demise breaks out, many people pay their condolences on social media. Communist Party of India – Marxist Leninist (CPIML) Polit Bureau member Kavita Krishnan tweeted on Tuesday, “Shocked to learn that we lost Vira Sathidar, revolutionary street theatre activist, singer, writer, poet, actor, to Covid-19. This is a huge loss. Many of you may know him from his performance as lead actor in "Court" (2015).”

 

 

Related:

Easter at Taloja Jail: Stan’s Cross

Democracy dies when it’s streets fall silent: Activists on the right to protest

Mumbai’s prominent union leader Datta Iswalkar passes away

It is a war against Ambedkar's Constitution, not just Muslims alone: Dalits

 

Dalit trailblazer, Vira Sathidar succumbs to Covid-19

Although renowned for his work as an actor, Sathidar preferred to be known for his activist-work that voiced the plight of the Dalit community

artist Vira Sathidar

Cultural activist, Editor and artist Vira Sathidar also known as Vijay Ramdas Vairagade passed away due to Covid-19 on the intervening night of April 12 and April 13, 2021. The stoic figure of the anti-caste movement breathed his last at the age of 61 years at a hospital in Nagpur.

Most people recognise Sathidar as the lead actor in the Oscar-nominated Marathi movie ‘Court.’ However, his own life narrated a story of a Nagpur-born cowherd, who took an interest in folk art and music, and went on to become the Editor of Marathi bi-monthly magazine ‘Vidrohi’ as well as a democratic rights activist.

His own parents worked with Dalit icon Dr. B.R. Ambedkar but they were unable to ensure a future in academics for Sathidar. So he worked in a Nagpur factory where he learnt about Leftist ideology. Years later, as a member of the Republican Panthers, Sathidar was one of the organisers of the Elgaar Parishad.

He defended the ‘Aajchya Peshwaishi Mukabala Karnyasathi Kamar Kasuya’ (Let us prepare to fight the New Peshwas) pamphlet that described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a Peshwa successor and quoted Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as saying, “The last option to preserve human values is to take up arms.” Rather than calling the pamphlet “provocative” Sathidar said the words were direct quotes from Ambedkar’s article from August 1940.

After being accused in the electricity theft case along with fellow Editor Sudhir Dhawale, the Ambedkarite claimed to have become disillusioned by the Indian judiciary and the democratic system. Accordingly, he told interviewers that he did not struggle to play the role of Narayan Kamble because he had suffered similar instances in court and with police. Sathidar and his son were booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for selling books with “objectionable” literature in Chandrapur in 2006. Later, authorities filed a closure report.

Such police oppression lessened somewhat after the ‘Court-associated’ fame. However, despite the favourable reviews and his additional work in “Aadha Chand Tum Rakh Lo” short film and “Chronicles of Shree” Musical short, Sathidar considered himself more of a poet, writer, singer and lyricist. Although he told The Hindu he hoped to direct his own film one day.

As the news of his demise breaks out, many people pay their condolences on social media. Communist Party of India – Marxist Leninist (CPIML) Polit Bureau member Kavita Krishnan tweeted on Tuesday, “Shocked to learn that we lost Vira Sathidar, revolutionary street theatre activist, singer, writer, poet, actor, to Covid-19. This is a huge loss. Many of you may know him from his performance as lead actor in "Court" (2015).”

 

 

Related:

Easter at Taloja Jail: Stan’s Cross

Democracy dies when it’s streets fall silent: Activists on the right to protest

Mumbai’s prominent union leader Datta Iswalkar passes away

It is a war against Ambedkar's Constitution, not just Muslims alone: Dalits

 

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