The “Kavi” of Main Tumhara Kavi Hoon is no more. Ramashankar Yadav “Vidrohi”, the main character in Nitin K Pamnani’s 2011 documentary, has died after squatting on the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus for over 30 years.
The poet first came to JNU as a student in 1980. He was rusticated three years later for his role in the notorious student agitation against the college administration, which resulted in the university being shut down for a few weeks. Vidrohi never left, making the grounds of the university his home, except when he was briefly thrown out of the campus in 2010. He participated in student protests and recited his revolutionary poetry for whoever cared to listen. Vidrohi emerges in Pamnani’s absorbing film as a deeply romantic figure, committed to a life of poetry, agitation, and protest. Pamnani captures the essence of this people’s poet, whose detachment from material possessions is as strong as his dedication to abstract ideas. “Everything rots, dissolves, disappears and yet people keep giving,” he replies when asked about how he survives the various seasons.