Arts and Culture
Vaanam Arts Festival will take place at St Ebbas Girls Higher Secondary School on Dr Radhakrishnan Salai in Chennai from December 29 to 31.
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Vaanam Arts Festival, a three-day cultural festival spearheaded by Pa Ranjith’s Neelam Cultural Centre might just be the most exciting way to conclude this year! Scheduled to be an art and literature extravaganza, the Vaanam festival will bring together an interesting line-up of events spread across the performing arts spectrum, from December 29 to 31.

Aptly titled Vaanam, this first of its kind cultural celebration in the city is all set to prove to be a memorable event.

Speaking at the launch, director Pa Ranjith said that he hoped that this New Year’s Eve will lead us into the dawn of a new beginning – that of social equality.

Incidentally, Casteless Collective’s debut music album, titled 'Magizhchi', will be released on December 31.

Raising some very important questions, Ranjith said, “Mao said: ‘Arts is for the people’. ‘But who are the people?’ is a question that’s probably inside all of us. Are the art forms that have been accepted thus far alone art? I’ve had this question from when I was young. Why was the art that I enjoyed as a youngster not been given a platform on the main stage? They usually associate parai music with kuthu songs but even in cinema, kuthu music has been treated with lesser respect. I really enjoy parai music, but why was this not accepted by larger sections of the society?”

Ranjith also shared that the 'Magizhchi' album will surely create important discussions in society. “The album will create a big dialogue in the society. Music has a big soul and it will definitely connect with everyone,” he said.

The three-day festival that will take place at St Ebbas Girls Higher Secondary School on Dr Radhakrishnan Salai in Chennai has an exciting line-up of events ranging from parai performances to Madurai Veeran Koothu.

Talking about the Buddha play directed by Pralayan that will be staged on day 1, Ranjith said that the play will bring out the “Buddhism envisioned by Ambedkar”.

The first day of the festival is themed around literature and drama. On the 29th, the fest will begin with a parai performance by 1,000 people. There are also workshops on public speaking for young adults and bommalattam (puppetry) for children. The first day will end with the famed Madurai Veeran play.

Day two of the fest will see a number of dance performances and the highlight of this day will be the Theenda Theenda dance play by Virrali followed by a dance show by Sandy Master. The final day of the festival, New Year’s Eve, has been planned around music and will conclude with the album launch.

It is interesting to note that several musicians who made their debut with The Casteless Collective earlier this year have gone on to establish a name for themselves. While composer Tenma has been signed up for Neelam’s upcoming production - Irandaam Ulagaporin Kadaisi Gundu, singers Muthu and Guna will be seen playing important roles in Vasanthabalan's Jail.

Ranging from 'Therukkural', an event that invites all aspiring musicians to come up on stage, the festival will also feature poetry readings and art displays. Ranjith also added that a collection of selected short stories and poetry will be published by Neelam Cultural Centre at a later date. To keep up with the festival schedule, check their Facebook page here.