(Kabir Kala Manch)
WORK by RUPALI JADHAV (KKM)
Rupali is a member of Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), a musical poetry and theatre troupe that is dedicated to raising the status of marginalised communities. Through such art forms and in a variety of ways, the KKM have spoken out against Hindu majoritarianism (Hindutva), caste exploitation, atrocities against Dalits, female infanticide, farmer suicides, corporate corruption and state brutality against the poor.
KKM was founded in Pune by a group of students and young professionals in the wake of the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat. Rupali joined as a poet, performer and organiser in 2009.
KKM’s performances draw from a rich repertoire of radical, anti-caste poetry and the teachings of the Dalit jurist and social reformer, B. R. Ambedkar. As S. Anand, editor of Navayana says, their ‘lyrics …fused Ambedkar with radical Left’.’
KKM’s popularity for mobilising anti-caste consciousness has made them targets of the state. They were featured in the documentary by filmmaker Anand Patwardhan in a 2011 film, Jai Bhim Comrade. The film focused on caste injustice and police violence, and led to false accusations and the arrests of KKM musicians and poets under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Rupali says: ‘All we do is sing. A song is nothing concrete. So it must be the energising force that our songs have that rattles the police.’
KKM provides a powerful critique of everyday violence through patriarchy and casteism as well as an alternative reading of the cultural violence inherent in the state. Their performances turn liminal artistic performance spaces into platforms to conscientise audiences as to the need for concrete change and social justice.
The voices of Rupali among other women in KKM are prominent in the performances in which gender and caste inequalities and injustices are explicitly referenced. It is therefore no coincidence that a majority of the KKM members who have been arrested, charged or incarcerated under questionable premises so far have been women.