Meet Vedan, whose Malayalam anti-caste rap song is a hit

The song comes from long years of discrimination that people in his community have been through, the rapper says.
Rapper Vedan
Rapper Vedan
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He wrote the song in Malayalam long before the country reacted to the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). He, who wants to be known by the name of Vedan (hunter), wrote it from the long years of discrimination that people in his community have been through. Vedan showed it to his friends, began rapping the words, because that’s the form that black people once chose to tell what they wanted to tell, when they fought for their rights. The song was shot and released three days ago, with the title ‘Voice of the Voiceless’.

“It’s what I have seen around me, happening to the people in the colony that I grew up in. Discriminated for long for their caste and colour. They are the people living without basic needs – proper nutrition or even a safe house. I live there. My music has to be in my place, about the people who live there,” Vedan says.

The anti-caste and politically loaded song is as strong in its words as it is in its music of rage:

Njaan paananalla parayanalla pulayanalla nee thamburanumalla
Aanel oru ma*irumilla

(I'm not a Paanan or a Parayan Or a Pulayan. Nor are you a Thamburaan.
And even if you are I don’t give a f*ck!)

Vedan grew up in a colony called Swapnabhoomi, near the Thrissur railway station. Finishing school, he went for construction work, with a dream to ‘someday be something’.

“It was after this that I worked as a studio boy for film editor-director B Ajith Kumar in Thiruvananthapuram, and came across a lot of people,” Vedan says.

In those years, he came close to rap, influenced by the late American rapper Tupac Shakur.

When he decided to make music, he chose the name Vedan because people in his community were village hunters ‘who got hunted’.

Helping him make the music video were Akhil Ramachandran, who directed the video, and Hrithwik Sasikumar, who shot it. The children in the video are the children of his colony, Vedan says.

The music video begins in a shade of red and ends in blue, while Vedan is dressed in a black shirt. It appears to be the coming together of Marx, Ambedkar and Periyar, three anti-caste/class warriors from history.

His music is his politics, Vedan says. And the politics is not subtle. Vedan sings that the land is ruled by false patriots and that the ruler has no worries, going on tours with tax money (anyone who has followed Indian politics will get the reference).

One day, he wants to make films to talk about his politics. “Music, cinema, these are platforms that can reach people. Making a film to tell my politics is my dream now. This is not just what I want to say, but a lot of people around me do. The song is a credit to all the people who gave me their love.”

He sings:

Enikku vendatho enikku vendathalla njangalkku vendathu nee tharan madichu

Njangalere kothichu athinayethra peru marichu kandu kandu nee chirichu

Alla alla alla allalilla naalathilla

Illa illa Vedan illa katha parayukilla

Meaning (as translated by Radha Gomaty):

What I want is not just for me but for all. You are not willing to share any.
How many gave their lives for that! Yet you stand by and laugh.
No no no No worries; No postponing to the morrow
No no No more of this Hunter to tell the tales.


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