Rock-folk fusion raises eyebrows

 
While Chennai Sangamam  in its fifth edition this year  drew considerable attention for being catalytic in reviving the moribund Tamil folk arts and forms, another interesting component has been the inclusion of more than 20 Western music bands of the city in this open festival at street corners, parks and beaches.

Though the Western music bands had a contest among themselves on the theme of world peace, dovetailing it in a festival of Tamil folk arts has not gone well with culture critics.  But Kanimozhi, event coordinator and member of Rajya Sabha, is nonchalant and unapologetic.  

When asked whether the inclusion of Western music will not dilute the focus of the event, Kanimozhi replied with an emphatic ‘no’. A few western band shows should not take away the spirit of Chennai’s biggest cultural festival, she says.  “This is also a city festival and so we wished to give an opportunity to those who excel in Western band, it is part of Tamil film music anyway,” says Fr J  Casper, head of the Tamil Maiyam, the festival organiser.

Even more unusual this year has been the literary segment of the Sangamam devoting a whole day on Wednesday for a deep deliberation by scholars and writers on the whole gamut of 76-year-old Jayakanthan’s literary productions.

Given Jayakanthan’s early association with the Communist movement and his earlier criticism of the Dravidian movement, it was all the more surprising that the spotlight should have been on him.  This was notwithstanding the fact that Jayakanthan himself was not keen on a belated public seminar on his works, asking “what is the need?”  

Even as some political analysts interpreted this as an index of greater tolerance and understanding by the next generation DMK leadership led by M K Stalin and Kanimozhi, the public debate on Jayakanthan’s works and contributions to realistic Tamil cinema was a big hit at the festival.

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