Meet Odisha’s ‘Gully Boy’, Rapper Duleshwar Tandi

Kalahandi: He’s being likened to Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh’s character in the Hindi film ‘Gully Boy’ and has already become a celebrity of sorts.

Meet  Duleshwar Tandi aka Rapper Dule Rocker. A Dalit and a migrant worker, this 27-year-old from Odisha’s Kalahandi district is drawing the attention of the people through his rap songs that depict the plight of migrant workers during the lockdown due to COVID-19.

Needless to say that the songs touch a chord with the people and have gone viral. Tandi is a science graduate. Before the lockdown, he used to wipe tables and wash plates at a restaurant in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur. He came to his tiny Borda village home in March just a day before the national lockdown was announced.

“As I watched the COVID cases grow in China, the US and European countries, I could sense that it was a matter of weeks before the virus comes to India. So I decided to come back,” Tandi was quoted as saying in Hindustan Times (HT).

Pained on seeing the videos of others like him who could not make it back home on time, Tandi wrote the lyrics of Telling the Truth and made a 2.45-minute rap video. In it, he vents his anger against the politicians, calling them thieves. Then in May, the youngster made a 3.5-minute rap video called Sun Sarkar, Sat Katha, which is about how the coronavirus disease and subsequent distress came as a rude jolt to migrant workers, HT reported.

He first migrated for work soon after completing his B.Sc degree in chemistry from a government college in Kalahandi in 2013. He had to mortgage two acres of land with a bank in 2014 for Rs. 50,000, when his mother had to undergo a surgery in a hospital in Visakhapatnam. That left Tandi with no option but to work. His family’s financial condition did not allow him to pursue medical studies, which was his ambition. In 2017, his father, Nilamani Tandi, a farmer and local police station assistant, passed away, the report added.

The seed of rap was sown in college. “When I used to write lyrics for rap music, everyone used to dissuade me. Everyone used to say what would you gain out of it. But in my heart I knew that I wanted to be a rapper,” HT reported him as saying.

Then in 2015, he came to Bhubaneswar and tried his luck at the various studios for making videos. However, lack of money to make slick rap videos became an impediment. “One needs at least Rs 50,000 for making each such rap video which I did not have. So I decided to stick to making the videos on my mobile phone,” he told HT.

Lady luck knocked at his door as the rap songs on migrants that Tandi composed during lockdown slowly become popular. Odia singer Humane Sagar heard him and gave him Rs 30,000 to bail him out of his financial crisis. A local recording studio recently called him, expressing an interest in recording his music, HT reported.

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