December 9th marked a day when the people of India were thrilled by the 3-minute long trailer of director SS Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’. The spectacular visuals took people by awe and the characters played by Jr NTR and Ram Charan reimagined our lost freedom fighters. Especially the character played by Jr NTR become the subject of controversy when some politicians considered it offensive to our original hero. But, who is the man behind Jr NTR’s character?
Komaram Bheem also known as Kumram Bheem, was a rebel leader for the Gond tribe active in the British Raj during the 1920s. He was a communist revolutionary who fought against the feudal Nizamate of Hyderabad and the Crown rule.
Komaram Bheem rose to prominence for revolting against the Nizams.
Komaram Bheem was born on 22 October 1901 in Sankepalli, Hyderabad. He grew up in the tribal forest isolated from the rest of the world and received no education. He belonged to the Gondi Tribe of India which was regularly exploited by the wealthy Zamindaar’s of the area thus forcing them to move to places frequently. This way even without any formal education, Komaram Bheem learned a lot through his experiences.
The victimization of the Gondi Tribe by the zamindars was at its peak during the 1900s. The tribal people were depended on traditional farming but the mining activities restricted their subsistence activities. The state-imposed heavy taxes on their lands which led to non-compliance by the tribals. Many villagers including Bheem’s father was also killed during the forced amputations.
Later Bheem along with his family shifted to Sardarpur. They were offered refuge in the land owned by zamindar Laxman Rao. When the tribals shifted to Sardarpur, they started farming on the land and so became the target for tax extraction. In 1920, when a Nizamate officer sent by Rao came to confiscate the crops, Bheem killed him in non-compliance. He then escaped barefoot to the city of Chanda where he and his friend Kondal was granted refuge by a local publisher named Vitoba. It was during his time in hiding that Bheem learned to speak and read English, Hindi, and Urdu.
Jal, Jangal, Zameen.
Later Bheem worked for a tea plantation for more than four years and became heavily involved with the Labour union activities. On one such occasion, Bheem was arrested but he managed to escape the jail within four days of his arrest. He returned to Balharshah in the Nizam. The Rampa Rebellion of 1922 led by Alluri Sitarama Raju in Assam became an inspiration for Komaram Bheem and due to the influence of childhood folklores of Ramji Gond, Bheem decided to join the rebellion in order to promote his own protest for the rights of Adivasis.
Bheem’s help to Lacchu Patel in land litigation against the Asifabad estate made him a renowned figure among the tribal people. During this time he married Som Bai and moved to Bhabejhari in the Gond land where he started farming. When the officials came to know about this, they threatened him by saying that the land belonged to the State. This incident combined with his newly found influence, Bheem started the Clandestine associations with the banned Communist Party of India. He started mobilizing the Adivasi people and formed the guerilla army to protect their rights.
This soon led to the Gondi Uprising in 1928 where the Crown rule recognized Bheem as the leader and sent the collector to negotiate. Bheem declined their offer and demanded complete authority over their lands, no tax, and the release of the Gondi people from the prison. His demands were declined by the Raj and the conflict continued. Komaram Bheem was eventually killed in an encounter with armed policemen in 1940 along with 15 others. Their body was cremated at the same spot by the police.
The legacy of Komaram Bheem is once again revived by SS Rajamouli. The story of the movie is going to be emotional yet filled with a lot of action and drama. Jr. NTR looks as fierce and fabulous as Bheem in the trailer with the promising storyline. The star-studded line-up also included Ram Charan, Ajay Devgan, Alia Bhatt, and Olivia Morris.