27-year-old Kalahandi district resident Duleshwar Tandi has become popular as Rapper Dule Rocker for his songs on the hardships faced by migrant labourers during the coronavirus lockdown.
A migrant worker himself, Duleshwar is not just a rapper but a tuition teacher, according to the People Archive of rural India. As per a report in The Hindustan Times, the young man moved to Raipur in 2013 after graduating with a BSc degree. In Raipur, he earned his living wiping tables and cleaning dishes at a hotel. That was until the coronavirus pandemic struck.
"Government, answer this!— The People's Archive of Rural India (@PARInetwork) July 4, 2020
Oh government!Answer this!"
In Kalahandi district,Duleshwar Tandi – Rapper Dule Rocker’– a tuition teacher,construction worker and occasional migrant, expresses anguish at the plight of migrants in the lockdown, through this song. https://t.co/TBI9NSlSon pic.twitter.com/YGObM61KoX
Duleshwar returned to his village Borda on March 23, a day before a national lockdown was implemented by the government. It was only after he saw images and videos and read reports of penniless migrants walking home on barefoot for hundreds of miles that the rage within him stirred.
Duleshwar, who belongs to a scheduled caste, first published a rap song titled 'Sun Sarkar, Sat Katha' (Listen Government, True Fact) in May. In the song, he spoke about the stark reality of migrant workers and asked tough questions from those in charge.
In one of the videos, Duleshwar rapped about how migrants had "exhausted all their savings and lost everything in a matter of days after the factories and construction sites were closed due to the lockdown. They had to walk, some barefoot, with their kids on their back in summer. The leaders were only giving them sermons instead of helping them," India Today quoted the man as saying.
The report also cited that since his videos became viral, Duleshwar's situation has improved and he has also got offers from the Odia film industry. After just five videos, his Youtube page has over 23,000 subscribers.
Following his popularity on social media, many have drawn a parallel between Duleshwar and the protagonist of the 2019 Bollywood film Gully Boy starring Ranveer Singh which depicted the story of an angsty rapper who rapped about the ills and hard truths of society.
Duleshwar is the latest among many rappers belonging to oppressed or minority castes who have recetly made waves with their politically charged music. In 2018, a former JNU student Sumit Samos caught national limelight after his songs highlighting caste oppression went viral.