To Appreciate Ilaiyaraaja’s Anti-Caste Politics, You Have To Listen To His Music

Ilaiyaraaja’s Anti-Caste Politics

Ilaiyaraaja is thought by way of many names. Some have known as him a maestro, appreciably the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London. Others seek advice from him as Ragadevan (Lord of the Ragas) or maybe Isaignani (Saint Musician), a identify conferred by means of Kalaignar Karunanidhi, the five-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu. For his legions of enthusiasts, he’s lovingly known as Raaja.

The film composer, singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, orchestrator, conductor-arranger and lyricist’s incredible profession has spanned more than 4 decades, encompassing over 7000 songs and one thousand films in at least seven languages. His music may now percentage radio and tv airtime with others at some point of the day, however it nonetheless monopolises the night time. Over the decades, his tune has become an intrinsic a part of Tamil existence.

 Ilaiyaraaja’s Anti-Caste Politics

However, while there’s little dispute approximately the genius and craftsmanship of Ilaiyaraaja’s music, his politics have regularly been a depend of rivalry.

Adherents of numerous ‘innovative’ political ideologies—whether they’re communist, Periyarist or Ambedkarite—have been important of Ilaiyaraaja’s politics, or as a substitute their interpretation of it.

The comrades experience a sense of betrayal that he appears removed from the instances when he set his tunes to songs written with the aid of his brother Pavalar Varadarajan (described as ‘left-leaning’). The Periyarists, however, are miffed that during spite of his music representing the Tamil loads, he hasn’t willingly claimed his space in the Dravidian movement. Plus, there is the allegation that Ilaiyaraaja refused to compose song for a biopic on Periyar E. V. Ramasamy. The Ambedkarites too are wholly dissatisfied in Ilaiyaraaja for seemingly disavowing his oppressed social identification (he become born right into a Scheduled Caste circle of relatives). Indeed, he has been accused of having Brahminised himself and cut off ties together with his roots.

At the same time, the Brahminical hegemony has been fiercely attempting (as a substitute unsuccessfully) to discredit or reject the greatness of his paintings, and to write off Ilaiyaraaja as simply some other tune composer within the history of Tamil song.
These outside politics and perceptions have created a ordinary dichotomy around how Ilaiyaraaja’s paintings is widely understood. While his song is taken into consideration to symbolize the hundreds and is cherished dearly by way of thousands and thousands of Tamils and others, his politics is something that his detractors continuously use as an excuse to throw stones at him. Even ardent fans of his track usually chorus from living at the politics of his music even if they experience spending hours analysing every other factor of his paintings.

This brings us to a few inevitable questions.

Does there exist a dichotomy in Ilaiyaraaja’s work? Is his craft one of a kind from his politics? Are Ilaiyaraaja and his works certainly Brahminised? If so, how is it viable for him to reign because the musician of the loads for more than four a long time? Or may want to or not it’s a case wherein his anti-caste legacy is intentionally unacknowledged and discredited that allows you to downplay the historic importance of his works? Whatever the answers to these questions, it is critical to unflinchingly observe them with a view to higher understand Ilaiyaraaja and his music.

The strain to proclaim identification
There are regularly-repeated arguments which are used to push aside the politics of Ilaiyaraaja’s works. The first is that he refuses to assert his oppressed caste identity. The 2d is that he has end up a religious Hindu, and has inside the method Brahminised himself. Both arguments have over the years become a legitimised a part of the discourse across the maestro. But how lots truth is there to them? Let’s have a look at each these criticisms intently.

There is wonderful stress located on Ilaiyaraaja to take possession of his caste identity. Of course, there may be no similar demand positioned on musicians from greater privileged backgrounds. No artist who’s a Brahmin, Savarna or maybe from a dominant backward caste is compelled to talk approximately his or her caste place. This pattern, of direction, is not confined to the humanities. Even in politics (particularly anti-caste politics), all the articulations of someone from an oppressed caste are at once connected to his or her identity.

However, whilst the same politics is articulated via a person from an upper caste, they are prolonged the courtesy to stay casteless. This obvious difference in how we perceive the politics of oppressed and privileged caste individuals is itself a made from caste. It reflects a sizable incapability to look beyond the caste identity of a person who comes from an oppressed section of society.

Even in innovative Periyarist and Ambedkarite circles, there was a warfare to realise Ilaiyaraaja’s politics. This is typically because proponents of each those ideologies area super import at the declaration of oppressed-caste identity. Without this, they’re not able to fit a person’s politics into the Periyarist or Ambedkarite mould. The other bone of contention is that each those ideologies are atheist in nature and this is available in direct war with Ilaiyaraaja’s religious leanings. The music composer is open about being a devout Hindu. For those motives, each anti-caste circles have been not able to find a place for Ilaiyaraaja’s politics.

Yet, if we look beyond Periyarist or Ambedkarite ideologies, it will become clear that Ilaiyaraaja too can have a place in anti-caste records.

Over time, diverse ani-caste colleges of notion have typical and reclaimed Nandanar as a chief icon. This 7th-century saint was from an untouchable caste, however his devotion to Lord Shiva earned him an area some of the sixty three Nayanars. While Nandanar might play a docile devotee function within the Brahminical rendering Nandanar Charitam, in the Bahujan retelling, he’s interpreted as an anti-caste radical who executed one of the earliest ‘temple access actions’ on the Thillai Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram. In these retellings, the ritual purification of Nandanar in fireplace is considered because the loss of life penalty unleashed on him for bold to enter the temple.

About the author

Lara Patrick

Lara Patrick

Lara Patrick is the Vice President of Point of Sale Strategy and Education in New York City. Lara earned her MBA at Keller Graduate School of Management in Chicago and is an alumna of two leading industry leadership programs.

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