Joker fame director Raju Murugan has released a song from his upcoming film Gypsy, starring Jiiva and Natasha Singh. Titled 'Very Very Bad', the song has been composed by Santhosh Narayanan.
It begins with a shot of portraits of Ambedkar and Periyar behind bars. Next, we're shown Santhosh Narayanan being brought in by policemen to the prison. As he walks along, another inmate asks, "Did you protest against Sterlite, nuclear power plant, Neutrino, or sand mining?" This is none other than environmental activist Mugilan who has been to jail several times for his activism.
The young woman next to him is Valarmathi, a student activist who was arrested for distributing leaflets asking people to support those who were fighting against methane and hydrocarbon projects. In the video, she asks if Santhosh had protested against similar projects.
In the next cell is activist Piyush Manush who asks if Santhosh had fought against a godman. Trans rights activist Grace Banu questions if the arrest had happened because he fought for the rights of the trans community. Others who make an appearance in the video are anti-caste activist and politician Jakkaiyan, CPI leader Nallakannu, former CPI(M) MLA K Bala Bharathi, and leader of the May 17 Movement Thirumurugan Gandhi.
The video is a scathing take on the arrests of social and political activists in Tamil Nadu over the last couple of years. The Edappadi Palaniswami-led AIADMK government has faced severe flak for its crackdown on dissent in the state.
Following the death of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, many social and environmental issues, organised at the grassroots, gained visibility with activists staging demonstrations, fasts and road rokos.
Most of these activists have been arrested and have faced jail time for protesting against large infrastructure projects being pushed by the state or private industries.
Santhosh Narayanan says in the video that he was arrested for making a song, as if predicting the (possible) response of the government. Portraits of Marx and late LTTE chief V Prabhakaran can be seen in the background while Che Guevara makes an appearance later.
Actor Jiiva joins Santhosh and the two of them sing a song that questions how the corrupt and powerful are let off the hook while those who wish to do good for the people are harassed by the police. The musicians use a mix of Western and Indian instruments, including the parai which has come to symbolise dissent against authority and establishment in Tamil Nadu.
The song ends with a dedication to all "anti-Indians", a phrase that has been used to silence anyone raising questions about the government.