On the evening of January 12th, a little after director Pa Ranjith makes a little speech, his group of musicians, The Casteless Collective, will take the stage at the Arpo Arthavam event, in Kochi’s Marine Drive. Arpo Arthavam had begun as a hashtag campaign, celebrating menstruation, at a time the court verdict allowing women of menstruating age into Sabarimala is still frowned upon. Now, the collective will have a two-day event with dance and music and art and people talking, on the 12th and 13th of January.
Only a few of the events have been finalised, including the performance of The Casteless Collective, an Arthava rally and Pa Ranjith’s address, says a spokesperson of Arpo Arthavam. On the afternoon of January 13, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will take part in the event. There will also be a music performance by Makkal Kalai Ilakkiya Kazhagam (by singer Kovan and group) who had famously brought out the ‘Vinavu’ song, questioning those who opposed the entry of women to Sabarimala.
The Casteless Collective too has an Ayyappa song, that was performed recently during the launch of their debut album, Magizhchi, sung by the only female member of the band – Isaivaani. The song will be one of the many the group performs on Saturday for the Arpo Arthavam event. “We will be performing 19 songs in total, the whole package. Some new songs as well. We’ve got the ‘Ayappa' song, The ‘Beef’ song, ‘Dabba Dabba’ song, one on Dalit activist Ayyankalli, another on Periyar, ‘Pengalathan Kumbidaran Dheivama’ song. We’ve got 8 new songs that we will be performing for the first time on this stage,” says Tenma, the band’s music producer and arranger.
The band was formed when Madras Records, a music label run by Tenma got together with the Neelam Cultural Centre, helmed by director Pa Ranjith. A year ago, the group created ripples across Chennai, with over 19 indie artists performing songs on several topics – ranging from the life history of Dr Ambedkar to manual scavenging to the recent debate on quota and reservations.
This is for the first time the band will be travelling and staying together, Tenma adds. “We’d hang out usually but this will be the first time we will live together and also be performing to an audience that is not very familiar with the language completely. This will be a great learning experience for the band itself.”
(With inputs from Anjana Shekar)