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The Warli Revolt - Swadeshi ft. Prakash Bhoir

Towards the end of last year, governments, corporate entities and builder lobbies were circling around the “green lungs” of Bombay like vultures, trying to bulldoze their way into “development”.

“Whose development?”, one might ask. This is exactly the question that the song I’m sharing with you today, asks.

The Warli Revolt, “an anthem against the destruction of Aarey Forest”, is produced by Swadesi (“Swadesi is a group of socially conscious rappers, writers, music producers and performers, whose art serve as a mirror to the society.”), featuring Prakash Bhoir, a tribal chieftain and activist from the Aarey forest, MC Mawali, MC Tod Fod and 100RBH. This song was made when the government was threatening to destroy the Aarey forest. Nestled in the northern suburbs along the coast, the forest is the cornerstone for the local ecosystem and home for several Adivasi tribes including the Warlis. As the Mumbai Metro threatens the region, several local groups, artists and activist are taking a stand.

Through their lyrics, Swadeshi warns the government of a massive revolution if they don’t stand down. The movement to save the Aarey forest gathered steam, and people from the neighbourhood, activists, environmentalists, and celebrities from various domains came together to support the local inhabitants, and preserve the ecosystem. The cutting of 2000 trees in the forest created a public outcry, and the wave of protests that swept the city prompted Aditya Thackeray and the Shiv Sena to take up the controversy of the Metro Car Shed as an election issue, and the work on the car shed was stalled by Uddhav Thackeray after he was sworn in as the Maharashtra CM. The single draws inspiration from Warli art and drawings, an art aesthetic that has been reappropriated across the world, and commercialised by the fashion industry to an extent that most people would recognise the spindly, stick motifs and the non-linearity that form the foundation of Warli art, anywhere. Jagmeet Singh conceptualised the music video, using animation to adapt the artwork with great finnesse. The visual narrative invokes the culture and philosophy of the Warlis, who live in harmony with nature. The words are a fusion of Warli poetry and hip hop/rap lyrics, coming together to take a defiant stand against the encroachers. From the youtube description: It's time for the revolution to begin. Fight for the ones who don't have a voice, fight for the ones who are being pushed out of their lands, fight for the trees, birds and the leopards. Development is not destruction.

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