• Situation is Frightening in Our Country: Poet and Satirist Sampat Saral

    Shahnawaz Akhtar

    September 10, 2018

    At a time when Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has sent out a strong message against the voice of dissent, by launching a nationwide witch hunt for social activists across India, poet and satirist Sampat Singh Shekhawat, alias Sampat Saral’s recently released mass anthem seems to be directly taking on those in power.

    A mass anthem about broken promises of government

    The poet and stand-up comedian’s jangeet (mass anthem), Sadho Thage Gaye Matdata reflects the plight of the common man who has been deceived by the tall promises made to them by the BJP, prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The timing of the song’s release, which has lyrics like – Ghuman mein madmast julaha, ek sut na kaata, sadho thagey gaye matdata(The weaver is so busy in his wanderlust that he has not spun even a single yarn), seems to be a direct attack on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his world tours.

    However, during his interview with eNewsroom, which was immediately after the digital release of his song on August 31, the poet claimed that the song release had nothing to do with the arrests of activists across the nation.

    “I know that the situation is frightening in our country for those who don’t toe in along the ideology of the ruling government.  To be honest, I had written this song two and half years and had had it filmed on someone else. The song was released a year back but had not much attention. However, we tried to make the best my popularity and had it filmed on me, while Vijay Tiwari, is the playback singer,” informed Sampat.

    On being asked, how he dared to write a song on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP government’s promises that have gone kaput? He replied, “Along with crores of Indians, I also feel that what this government (BJP) has forgotten all the causes that it had campaigned for as the opposition party, be it GST, FDI, Petrol price or the declining value of dollar against the Indian rupees. Hence, I penned it.”

    Intellectuals are the much needed opposition for any government

    The 56-year-old poet, who is critical of the present government, however strongly refuted the possibility of the song being penned to benefit someone. He even negated any possibility of him entering into politics.

    He elaborated, “I am a completely apolitical person. I do comedy on the politics and political personalities as I believe that, bolna jaruri hai (speaking up is necessary) aur Asahmati Ka Samman Hona Chahiye (and dissent should be respected). Even the honourable Supreme Court has indicated dissent as a safety valve for democracy.”

    The satirist even asserted that the role of an intellectual is to be in the opposition. “The main role of any poet, literary person or even a journalist is to be the permanent opposition of government. Earlier, I had done similar stand-up comedy shows or jangeet on others and now I am doing the same with the present government,” Sampat claimed.

    Torch-bearers of truth are the real change makers

    Talking about the voice of dissent, up came the topic of ongoing debate on Urban Naxals, a term, which has been specially coined by the right wingers to describe activists who are refusing to cow down before the present government. If he too would call himself an Urban Naxal, he replied, “I do not want to get associated with any ‘ism’. But I would like to state that people who dare to speak truth before those in power are the real change makers. When I was reading Aruna Roy’s book The RTI Story, I realized how much difficulties they have had to face to make the government implement the RTI act. But remember, when this society and ruling government didn’t spare the likes of Socrates and Galileo, then who are we?”

    Interestingly, this popular poet does not use social media. He bid adieu to the social networking in the year 2015. Speaking about the same he said, “The job of trolls, is to give you homework. Answering them actually cuts down your productivity and affects your actual work, so it’s better to be away from it. However, let me be clear, cutting of trolls on social media doesn’t mean that you won’t face opposition during live shows. But then you have organizers to take care of them. There are listeners too. We need to remember that it is the 31 per cent who chose this government, rest of the 69 percent did not,” he said smilingly.

    Sampat has so far performed in countries like USA, Singapore, Hong Kong, Russia, Canada, UAE, Oman, and Nepal.

    Being critical is not equal to demeaning

    “Some people are of the opinion that I demean our leaders, parties and government abroad. Such people do not understand vyang (sarcasm). And they need to understand, that in this era of digital India, people can hear me abroad, even when I do shows only in India,” he mentioned.

    And added, “The kinds of leaders India has today, had they been during pre-independence, we would have not got freedom.”

    On being asked, about his favourite lines of Sadho Thagey Gaye Matdata mass anthem, he maintained that the first and the last lines were his favourites.

    It goes like this: Sadho Thagey Gaye Matdata….
    Janta Chawe Dhandha Roti, Aap Ladawe Dhadi Choti
    Uss Gyani Ki Kiya Kahiye Jo, Ghee Se Aag Bujhata


     

    First published in Newsclick.

    Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the writer's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Indian Writers' Forum.

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