Blood Earth Music

Back Against the Wall

This song was created by Chris McGuinness and Delhi Sultanate immediately upon their return from Kucheipadar. Chris had already begun working on this beat in nearby Kakiriguma before reaching Kucheipadar. While journeying back on a night train through Orissa, Delhi Sultanate had begun writing the lyrics.

Chris McGuinness' composition incorporates the regional Gungunung instrument (a bamboo jaw harp) and samples of a nighttime courting song sung by Kondh females. Their voices are fed into an infinite feedback loop which evolves into a grinding noise that drives the song.

The song relates several events that occurred in the area. The first verse opens with the line "my brothers get done in Naxalite cases‚" and talks about the framing of all forms of peaceful resistance as Naxalite. Many of the inspiring warriors we met are called out by name. In villages like Barigaon, Peepalpadar, Sunger and others, the paramilitary was known to have entered homes, threatened families with guns, taunting them and accusing the well-built youth among them of being Naxals, often without evidence.

The second verse relates an incident that occurred few months prior to our arrival. In Basangmali, about 30 kilometres from Kucheipadar a police shooting had taken place in which nine people, five of them minor girls, lost their lives. A fact finding commission later confirmed that no warnings or calls to surrender were given and that the young boys and girls who were killed had not been involved in armed activity.

The third verse mentions Shivram whom we met in a nearby village called Maikanch. Shivram had been present at the notorious 16th December shooting of 2000, when police opened fire on unarmed protesters for the first time. He was wounded but escaped,, and later spent 13 months in prison on trumped up charges. Like many, he has been accused of being linked to the Naxal movement and police harassment and possible arrest have become facts of life for him. Halfway through our meeting, an informer disrupted our conversation and started an argument. We came to know that police had been informed of our presence and decided to leave in order to not cause further trouble for Shivram.


This song is a Word Sound Power reworking of ‘dongora chadiba nai’. The original song in Oriya was composed and written by Bhagbana Majhi who comes from a family of dundka singers and is one of the most charismatic leaders in the anti-mining movement against Utkal Alumina. The song was first penned down in the mid-nineties and quickly became very popular. It was sung at meetings, gatherings and rallies. Bhagbana often laces his speeches with movement songs. At the young age of twelve he immersed himself in the movement, mounting posters in several villages and accompanying the activists as they visited villages to mobilize people. One of his favorite activities as a teenager, he recalls, was to grade activist speakers who were giving rousing speeches with marks from 1-10. Small wonder he learnt the ropes through observation and emerged as one of the most articulate speakers that south Orissa peoples movements has produced. Bhagbana is a charismatic performer and has the ability to hold audiences spellbound through his speeches and songs. His songs speak about the unity of peasant communities in the area, their history, their strength and the threat of foreign companies. His songs are full of optimism and a strong will to survive such adversity. Today as the area braces the company, and the people uncertain of their future, hope against hope, that they may secure a ‘decent life’, the voice of Bhagbana transcends as the conscience-keeper of the community.


“Tell them about our struggle”

“About the demon who came from the outside and ate our world”

Like many in Kucheipadar, Lima Majhi joined the movement as a young boy. Unlike Bhagbana, he does not come from a family of dhundka singers. Lima is very popular in the village and a good mobiliser amongst women and youths. He dedicated his life to the struggle and when the movement was at its height, he was a part of the core group that decided on the course of action and organised events.

Lima’s song, Zamin Chori ba nahi is one of two songs written by Bhagbana Majhi. Movement songs were not only sung by a few specialists, but had become part of a common voice. This song, originally written in the primary phase of the movement, asserts that unity is strength and that people must be unified across the villages. One of Lima’s lines that reads, ‘immortal nectar will be turned into poison’, can be interpreted on many levels. Bauxite rock formed over 40 million years can be demolished and turned into aluminium within decades.

Go Away

“Salu, please sing us a song about how life changed when the company came here”

Salu Majhi is a blind bard and is one of the few living kui dundka singers in the area. His improvised songs are treasures of the oral history of kui and the challenges that his community have faced through centuries. Among several things that he sings about, some of the recurrent themes are the lives of kui people, the plight and joys of being a kondha, their gods, and the territory that kuis have inherited from their ancestors. He composes songs using the one string dundka, borrowing generously from the singers before him and the rich singing tradition of the kui people. His songs acquire a mythic life of their own, as he sings about a past that resonates vibrantly with contemporary times - a time when the community struggles to find its place as the extractive giant of Utkal Alumina initiates its operations.