Rebel Warrior

Rebel Warrior

Rebel Warrior appears on British musical group Asian Dub Foundation's first released cd, Fact and Fiction. The song was inspired by the poem Bidrohi, translated from Bengali as “The Rebel”, and written by Kazi Nazrul during the 1920s.
Kazi Nazrul was an Indian poet, patriot and composer during the end of the colonial era in India who supported Indian unity, as well as justice and freedom for women. [cite web| author=Sangsad Bangiya Charitra Avidhan | url= | title = Nazrul Islam| accessdate=2008-03-11] Kazi Nazrul wrote Bidrohi as a call to arms of those oppressed in India by the British and a call for unity between Muslims and Hindus. Nazrul’s poem politically and metaphorically called for Indians to oppose the British colonialism, by physically taking the government back and by mentally removing the imitation of British ideals and ideas from the country and returning to more traditional ways. His poem was the first aggressive poem published against colonialism and it was immediately successful and popular both with Muslims and Hindus because of its dynamic and forceful quality, which encouraged citizens to act against the colonial system which caused them so much destitution. In his quest to unify India, Nazrul attempted to make both Hindus and Muslims overlook their internal issues with each other and instead fight against the British. Kazi Nazrul went on to write more poems, as well as the first Bengali protest music, though he was later arrested for his outspoken beliefs, becoming one of the most important men in the Indian independence movement. [cite web| author=Dr Das | url=| title = Nazrul Islam: The Rebel Poet| accessdate=2008-03-11]

Asian Dub Foundation roughly translated the original text of Bidrohi on their track Rebel Warrior and used the song to support a modern take on Nazrul’s original stance. The poem was chosen in part because of its significance to the Indian independence movement and because of its place in Indian traditional culture and its powerful and unifying lyrics. It speaks out against neo-Colonialism, both in England and East Asia, and utilizes the original anti-colonial significance, while also expanding the message to battle modern racism, a force that is still prevalent against minorities in post-colonial England and the Western world in general. . [cite web| author=Anirvan Chatterjee | url=| title = New Models of Hybrid Bengali Identity| accessdate=2008-03-11]

“Check my anger, its realAin't no tokenI’ll be satisfied only when your backs been brokenIt’s my burning ambition to burn down your empireMan I’ll be building you a funeral pyre…

Ami bidrohi!I the rebel warriorI have risen alone with my head held highI will only restWhen the cries of the oppressedNo longer reach the skyWhen the sound of the sword of the oppressorNo longer rings in battleHear my war cry!

A radical fusionStrange allianceThe siren and the flute in unison‘Cause its a part of my missionTo break down divisionMental compartmentsPsychological prisons.” [cite web| author=Asian Dub Foundation| url=| title = Rebel Warrior| accessdate=2008-03-04]

These strong lyrics, mostly taken from the original poem, aggressively encourage anger and resistance against the hegemonic West and call for people to stand up against racism by actively fighting the oppressor, even to the point of ending the Western empire. This parallels Nazrul’s original message, in which he challenged people to stand up and battle colonialism by fighting back. The song also managed to unify people across cultures against racism by encouraging separate groups to join together to battle the tyrant, saying that part of ending racism is ending divisions between cultures, using the metaphor of the siren and flute and saying that these divisions are merely in the mind and do not actually exist. Asian Dub Foundation’s version of the traditional poem successfully brings the originally traditional Bengali message to a wider Western audience through its lyrics and modern hip-hop and East Asian infused sound and by promoting the end of racism using a cultural and traditional means, which would serve to strengthen South Asian identity by its reminder of shared past struggles.. [Sanjay Sharma: Noisy Asians of Asian Noise. in Disorienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music. Ed. Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk, Ashwani Sharma. Zet Books 1996, pp. 32-57.]


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