Meet the “Telangana Culture” icons

By: DonaldJennings

Telangana Culture becomes India’s newest state. This new political entity is the fulfilment of the dreams of thousands from 10 districts in Andhra Pradesh, who feel strongly connected to their region.

Although Telangana Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh both share the Telugu language they have had very different trajectories in the 20th century. This has led to very different socioeconomic conditions in both regions. Gautam Pingle is a Hyderabad-based pro Telangana political economist. Telangana was part of the princely state Hyderabad, which was governed by Nizams. The rest of Andhra, however, belonged to Madras Presidency that was governed by British.

We look at Telangana Culture rise onto the national stage.

For instance, ‘Daasi (Bonded Woman) was released in 1988. It won five national film award nominations. The movie depicts the life of a young, low-caste woman living in 1920s Telangana. She is sold by her family to a wealthy, upper-caste household. She is expected to be a bonded servant and to perform physical labour as well as to be available for sexual pleasure to guests and men. She falls pregnant and wishes to keep the child. However, her master makes her have an abortion.

Rao had released Maa Ooru (My Village) the previous year. This documentary depicts the caste-ridden social lives in a Telangana village he visited as a child. The shoot required him to travel over 6,000km. The film was nominated for a national award as the best ethnographic film, and also won another prize at Hungary International Festival of Visual Arts.

Rao had already written the screenplay of Maa Bhoomi (Our Land) a decade before. It was directed by Gautam Ghose in 1979. Based on Jab Khet Jaage, a Hindi play that tells the story about a peasant who lost his land during the Telangana Rebellion, 1946-1951. The film shows the power and might of feudal rulers, who routinely arrested villagers and made them work for nothing. Although the rebellion was primarily an armed peasant revolt, it also had a positive impact on the region’s senses of identity.

He said, “This is the moment I have been waiting since 1969 when I became a student leader, when the agitation began for statehood,” over the telephone from Hyderabad. He was referring to the passing of the bill that would allow the creation of Telangana State.

Rao is actively involved in the generation and dissemination of knowledge about Telangana’s culture, both historical and contemporary. Rao is the editor in chief of the Telangana culture encyclopedia, which he anticipates will be published by the end of next year. His co-editors and he have already asked for 200 entries from different people to contribute to the encyclopedia.

Rao will also be contributing to the production of a book about the lives and works of 150 post-Independence artists in the region. Rao has already booked a booth at the India Art Fair in Delhi next year that will feature 42 Telangana artists.

Rao is already a prominent cultural figure in Andhra Pradesh. The multifaceted Rao is also an artist and painter. He was fascinated at the many crafts of the region, including leather puppetry and terracotta jewellery making.

He first studied art in Hyderabad, then in Baroda at the MS University’s Faculty of Fine Arts. There he studied mural painting with KG Subramanyan, and developed a lifetime love for printmaking.

He returned to his village after completing his degree, where he continued his work, especially the more open sexuality that he saw there. His explicit erotic paintings as well as those depicting other aspects of rural life reflect the unique Telangana Culture.

He declined to speak over the telephone. He said, “Long-distance conversation don’t make any dent.” “You should visit me and speak to me.” However, gallery owners in Mumbai who worked with him stated that he was committed to Telangana’s distinct cultural entity. He also shared the commitment of many leading artists from the region such as Thota Valikuntam or Laxman Ailay.

Dadiba Pundole who runs a gallery called Dadiba Pundole in Mumbai, said that Goud’s “day-to-day village living” is a common theme in his work. She has also exhibited Goud’s work many times. His work is influenced by folk Telangana Culture, which he draws on the stories he was exposed to as a child. Kaloji Narayana Rao was a giant of Telugu letters and strongly pro-Telangana. He died in 2002. He was born in Warangal to a Kannadiga mom and a Maharashtrian dad. He became fluent and proficient in four languages, including Telugu Marathi, Hindi, Hindi, and Urdu. He also wrote poetry in each of these languages.

When he first wrote his poem, he was just a teenager. It was in response to Bhagat Singh’s execution by the colonial government. P V Narasimha Rao was India’s former prime minister and was a great admirer Kaloji Rao who received the Padma Vibhushan award in 1992.