The tune of “Bella Ciao” has once again evolved into an anthem of resistance after its efficacious use in Netflix original ‘La Case de Papel’ (Money Heist)

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Dilwar Hossain


With an impressionistic lyric, the song originally rendered the everyday toils of the mondine- the migrant female rice weeders in northern Italy from the late 19th century to the first half of the 20th century. The song was reimagined as the melody of singing truth to power in 1940’s anti-fascist movement by the Italian artisans to fit the narrative of their struggle.

The expression “speaking/(singing) truth to power” is not limited to any specific time and place. The landless peasants in Bengal, oppressed by the landlord/jotedar/moneylender dominated agrarian system under the British rule, launched the ‘Tebhga Movement’ in 1946 demanding the two-third share of their seasonal harvest. This peasant movement with a sharp political consciousness had got its emotive articulation through various songs- instinctively set in popular rural folk tune. The resonance of the anti-fascist ‘Bella-ciao’ seemed to be transmitted to Bengal in 1940s through the footsteps of Marxist consciousness of class-struggle. My study focuses on re-reading of the folksongs and the narratives of the women-participants in the Tebhaga movement along with the mondine ‘Bella Ciao’ to draw a cross-cultural map of articulation/formation of resistance by the people living at the margins.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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Individual Sessions: Words and Images Crossing Literary and Critical Borders