Every year, in the Tamil month of Margazhi, Chennai witnesses performances of gaana, hip hop, rap, oppari, and many forms of folk music that are not widely known. The event, called Margazhiyil Makkalisai (the people’s music in the month of margazhi), organised by filmmaker Pa Ranjith’s Neelam Cultural Centre, is a counter to the Carnatic music kutcheries that also take place this time of the year, but have long been considered Brahmanical and exclusionary. Artists at Makkalisai from across musical traditions talk to TNM about revolution through music, how romance is shattered by caste, how the histories of instruments have evolved from Colonial India to now, and more.
Arivu and his band The Ambassa, Sollisai Sistahs a women only Tamil rap group, a percussion and dance group performing Chikkattam not known to many beyond Tamil Nadu’s Pollachi district, a Bhudhist musical group of youngsters singing about love and revolution, director PA Ranjith, activist Shalin Maria Lawrence and others speak to TNM.
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