Casteism & Dominance Of Brahmins In The Tamil Music Industry

While, this is something that all of us would agree to and something that all of us have been putting up with.

When you bring it up, they would say-

“Brahmins are meritorious, they excel in music and hence they dominate the scene”.

But, this is not something that we have to be putting up with anymore and we have to call out all such people and warn them never to talk like that!

Tamil Music industry is a conglomeration of different forms of music in and around the state of Tamil. The tamil people inherently have always been listening to songs that have fast beats and traditional “thara thappatai”. The northern part of the state i.e Chennai, Kanchipuram, Vellore, Tiruvallur & Tindivanam which are situated to the North of River Palar that flows from Andhra Pradesh across Tamil Nadu to drain into the Bay of Begal. This part of the state has always been a fan of “kuthu” songs and Chennai especially is a hub of “Gaana” songs. And this is the place where Kodambakkam is situated- the Kollywood Capital.

Music in TN is more like Pre Ilaiyaraja & Post A.R. Rahman.

The industry has always made it a point to forget absolutely brilliant musicians like Deva, Shankar Ganesh & Vidyasagar and they were never credited for their delightful contribution to Tamil Cinema by being in sync with the commoners and they created music that anybody would easily connect with.

Their music was nothing sophisticated or “award-winning”, but the music was magical.

Songs like Salomia by Deva still makes a party go crazy in North Madras.

Often people who visit Tamil Nadu are told about “Mylapore”, “Carnatic music”, “filter coffee”, “Marghazhi” and “Sudha Ragunathan”. While everything was dominated by the brahmins during the early 60s, their sophisticated music started to penetrate deep into the lives of the commoners.

Carnatic Music Is More Like A Brahmin Empire.

if you ever get to attend a concert in Chennai during the infamous “music season”, you will hardly find a non-brahmin performing in these concerts.

This brahmin stronghold in the music industry was further enriched by Ilayaraja who was always proud of “Sangathis” & “Raagas” than the traditional fast beat songs that he has composed over the years.

Ilayaraja made sure that the Carnatic music was heard everywhere.

And then during the 90s, there came the Mozart of Madras- A.R.Rahman who further continued to inject more nuances of carnatic music with fusions into the minds of tamil people. It will be ironic to listen to a song that goes like “Uppu Karuvaadu, Ooravecha Soru” written by Kaviperarasu Vairamuthu from the movie Mudhalvan sung by a vegetarian Tamil Brahmin- Shankar Mahadevan. The point here is that “a singer who had tasted all the food that are listed in the song could have performed more better than the carnatic-trained Shankar Mahadevan”.

Recently, a song drew my attention- “Saara kaathu veesumpothu”, which is a very romantic & a lovely song depicting a rural female singing about her culinary skills to make her love interest fall for her. In the song, there will a lot of mentions about the traditional food items that can only be tasted down in the south of Tamil Nadu and more over in the rural parts of the state. This song was also written by Vairamuthu for which he bagged a Filmfare Award for the best lyricist. The irony of this song is that, Jibran decided to rope in Chinmayee Sripada who is not only a brahmin but also a casteist (her posts on Twitter would justify this name calling) to sing for the song. The song went on to become a big hit, but wait- “Don’t you think a person who has tasted all those food items and who happens to be a singer can do a much better job?”

If people deny the role of casteism in the field of music in TN, they are probably being biased & they are very much privileged to ignore pains of being unrecognised by the budding musicians from the rest of the society.