Home Arts & Culture Enjoy Enjaami: Instrumenting Folk Songs in Deconstructing Caste

Enjoy Enjaami: Instrumenting Folk Songs in Deconstructing Caste

Indian history is deeply engraved with the narratives of caste struggle. In this backdrop, art has always played a significant role in asserting the presence and placement of the Dalit community. The youth belonging to the largely Dalit and other oppressed Community have decided to step into genres such as hip-hop among many others to render caste-consciousness and as peaceful revolution against the unconscious caste-based practices undertaken across the country.

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Frederick Delius, an English music composer once said that ‘music is the outburst of the soul’. Recently, the Tamil song, Enjoy Enjaami was able to garner around 10 million views on YouTube in a short span of time of less than two weeks. This achievement was due to its variation from the music videos which are popular in the current set up.

Enjoy Enjaami emerged as a very attention-seeking and catchy song with its presence in Instagram and other buzzing social media platforms. Zooming into the captivating visuals and strong lyrics, the song certainly fulfils the objectives of art. Being extensively entertaining, the song delivers a robust message regarding the struggles of a minority community. The decomposition of the song further unravels the its placement in a social and political scenario and has empowered the song itself to look beyond the purview of fun and entertainment. Dhee and Arivu were able to craft a master piece that has enabled you and me to rebel against and question the power of mainstream music.

For the longest time, the potency and value of music was undermined by songs with non sensical lyrics and demeaning visuals. It is not a secret that media is the mirror of the society and is largely composed, controlled, and enjoyed by the power play of the rich and powerful sections of the society. The privileged communities have undermined the value of music and has oppressed certain sections of the society. The analysis of music and lyrics of several songs portray a strictly patriarchal and Brahminical descent.

The format of the song is Oppari, which is an ancient form of art and a musical lament, which is usually sang spontaneously to eulogize the death of kith and kin. The song laments over the death of compassion and equality. The song captures beautifully the spirit of coexistence, a concept that was discarded with the arrogance, dominance and supremacy of human being over the elements of nature. The rebellious song captures and celebrates ancestors, nature and unity.

The composer of the song, Arivu has combined the essence of storytelling and has induced excerpts of his ancestral history into the song in order to make viewers aware of a rebellious narrative. The song included experts from the stories of his grandmother who was a Tamil migrant laborer, who migrated to Ceylon in the late 18th and 19th Century. The colonial rulers took several Indian Tamils to Ceylon to work in coffee, rubber and tea plantations across Ceylon. The role of the Tamils in the development of the country was never recognized. The Tamil engaged in clearing forests, building roads, planting trees. After the work, they were unemployed and sent off to remote villages across Ceylon.

This story is brilliantly depicted with the lyrics of the song that translates into “we grew trees and protected the land, but we still remain thirsty”. The voice of the woman who was silenced for centuries has come out through this song and is enjoyed across the world. The grandmother calls Arivu, my God, with great loves and respect. The grandmother is enthroned and appreciated in the last part of the song and it ends in the note of accomplishment, love and compassion.

Music is often used as a powerful tool, to express the tales of oppression and discrimination. For instance, the socio-economic landscape of U.S. is painted by the black inks of white supremacy and racism. The genre of rap music has effectively captured and critiqued the socio-cultural conflicts in the contemporary terrain of U.S, and has penetrated into the purview “mainstream” genres, which is widely enjoyed and appreciated by people across the world.

Indian history is deeply engraved with the narratives of caste struggle.  In this backdrop, art has always played a significant role in asserting the presence and placement of the Dalit community. The youth belonging to the largely Dalit and other oppressed Community have decided to step into genres such as hip-hop among many others to render caste-consciousness and as peaceful revolution against the unconscious caste-based practices undertaken across the country. The artists collectively decided that they will not remain silent, like their ancestors. Dalit literature and music has garnered fair bit of attention through the creation of local bands as well as through the social media platforms which are widely used by people across the country.

Connecting the dots, the popularity of the song, Enjoy Enjaami is an instance of how powerful lyrics and captivating narratives have paved way for the appreciation of meaningful music in the landscape of contemporary entertainment industry of India.

This can be marked as an initiation of the popularity of new genre, rather a remarkable progress in terms of bringing the caste-based struggles, which are widely persistent into the attention of the mainstream communities. The already existing genres of music such as Dalit Rap has been able to highlight the history of Dalit mobilizations, which are less spoken about in books and the historical narratives discussed and dispersed in the country.

Songs are expected to enable the community to demand equality and respect, in a very peaceful manner without the infliction of violence. Being composed to the tunes of rebellion, Enjoy Enjaami is expected to successfully contravene regressive boundaries created by the caste system. The song challenges the mainstream Brahminical music, popularized by their oppressive counterparts. India is waiting to dance to the tunes of peaceful rebellion and strong challenges of loud and powerful art. This is just the beginning!

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