The track was released on October 25, as an anthem for Arakkonam- Dheeksha Bhoomi Festival.

BR Ambedkar and Arivu collage
Flix Music Tuesday, October 27, 2020 - 18:34

Tamil rapper Arivu’s latest single is a fantastic tribute to social reformer, anti-caste crusader and revolutionary thinker Dr BR Ambedkar titled ‘Jaibhim Thalaimurai’. The track was released on October 25, as an anthem for Arakkonam- Dheeksha Bhoomi Festival held between October 25 and 26, 2020. The video begins with a note on Ambedkar embracing Navayana Buddhism on October 14, 1956 as the “Buddham Saran Gachami” chant reverberates in the background.

The video, presented by director Pa Ranjith’s Neelam Cultural Centre, has archival photographs of Ambedkar. Arivu, who is known for his powerful lyrics, has penned a great tribute to Ambedkar in this song, covering his journey, right from his birth, his ideals and his struggles. Both at the beginning and in the end, the video has messages on Ambedkar and from Ambedkar’s notes.

Arivum who is part of The Casteless Collective, an indie gaana band from Chennai, has written others songs on Ambedkar, too. Their very first was in 2018, when the band was formed. This was titled ‘Jaibhim Anthem’ and begins on a solemn note.

In 2019, on Dr Ambedkar’s 128th birth anniversary, the band released 'Thalaivaa', another tribute to the revolutionary leader. This song was penned by Chetpet Ramesh about 20 years ago and was revived with fresh tunes by Tenma and vocals by K Muthu.

Apart from these two songs, Arivu’s version comes with strong punches, made louder with every ‘Jai Bhim’. The refrain “Thalaimurai ondragum (Jai Bhim), viduthalai undagum (Jai Bhim), samanilai kondadum (Jai Bhim), muzhangida munnerum (Jai Bhim)” (Generations will come together (Jai Bhim), freedom will come (Jai Bhim), equality will be celebrated (Jai Bhim), proclaim and rise (Jai Bhim)) is in itself an energising chorus to sing along with.

This song also touches upon the present controversy that surrounds the Manusmriti, that has been slammed by anti-caste activists and feminists for upholding patriarchy and casteism among other forms of social discrimination. The line “Manuval kuditha nam rathathai, arivaal thoduthar avar yuddthai” (They drank our blood in the name of Manu, He waged a war with his intellect) comes with an important reminder on the role Ambedkar played in fighting the ideas propagated by the Manusmriti, which he famously burnt in public.

The story of Ambedkar, who is among India's tallest leaders, is retold in the song, loudly, by this generation and voices such as Arivu's help add more energy to its tune. The song, that’s definitely an earworm, shares some of Ambedkar's important messages (included in the video), towards the end.

“As long as we remain in a religion, which teaches a man to treat another man like a leper, the sense of discrimination on account of caste, which is deeply rooted in our minds, cannot go. For annihilating caste and untouchables, change of religion is the only antidote. (…) The history of India is nothing but a history of mortal conflict between Buddhism and Brahminism.”

Listen to the song here:

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