Carnatic keys

Three times songs from Tamil cinema united and galvanised Tamilians

Among the catalysts of the jallikattu movement was a music director.

This is a watershed moment in Tamil politics, one unlike any we have experienced before. Tamilians worldwide are roaring about Tamil pride, an issue brought centre stage by the protests over jallikattu.

Aadhi, better known as Hip Hop Tamizha, was a major catalyst during the jallikattu movement. He is an established music director and performer in Tamil cinema who commands a massive following.

Among the more well-informed and rational proponents of jallikattu, he used art – with intellect and emotion – in a charged situation to ignite public consciousness. And when time came for the demonstration to be disbanded, his videos proved extremely valuable.

He spoke about the eternal use of music and art in uniting and unifying a people. Listen to his song Takkaru Takkaru:

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In this context, I thought it useful to look at songs and anthems from Tamil cinema that have served to unite and galvanise its populations.

Senthamizh Naadu Endrum Podhinile

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Senthamizh Naadu Endrum Podhinile was written in the early part of the 20th century by the nationalist poet Subramania Bharathi. Its lyrics highlight the essence of Tamil character, which it underscores with a call to valour and courage. Here is a rough translation of the main verse:

“When you say Tamil Nadu
It is like honey to the ears
To call it the land of my forebears
Fills me with a new force.”

Acchamillai Acchamillai (There is No Fear)

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Again written by Subramania Bharathi, this oft-recited poem has become the unofficial anthem of all Tamils fighting for justice, regardless of cause.

“There is no fear, There is no fear
Even when every human on this planet stands against me
Even when the sky tumbles and falls on my head
Even when I am left with no food and forced to beg
There is no fear, There is no fear.“

Tamizha Tamizha (Roja, 1992)

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The context and the script of this path-breaking film by Mani Ratnam need no explanations. This song continues to be an ARR classic.

“Tamizha, Tamizha
Tomorrow is Ours
This land is ours
My motherland is Tamil Nadu, say it with pride.“

Anil Srinivasan is a pianist and music educator in Chennai. His music education outreach now touches the lives of nearly 100,000 children in Tamil Nadu.

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