Recently, the Maestro of South India, Ilayaraja became the center of controversy in which various cultural and political figures took an active part in it, each having an advantageous ‘suitable’ political take on it.
The controversy was that more than a week ago Ilayaraja wrote a foreword that compared Prime Minister and far-right politician Narendra Modi and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in the same light. The musician otherwise largely apolitical in his major portion of public life has now become the center of much speculation and criticism.
Director Pa.Ranjith, in a cultural fest called Vaanam, organized by Neelam cultural center, opened up the controversy by saying, musician Ilayaraja’s language has always remained about music and the vastness which it encompasses; People’s criticism on Ilayaraja was because of his reach amongst masses. Asserting that the artist cant be separated from art, Ranjith said Ilayaraja’s music had broken social inequalities with people and took back music that was in the hands of few and gave it back to the people.
However, on the point of controversy Ranjith said that he views this instance as BJP’s attempt to create words from the musician’s mouth. He also said that BJP is using these issues to break the anti-communal, anti-caste model that is rising as a counter to the BJP’s narratives.
The director also criticized certain elements from the Indian National Congress in Tamilnadu as well as Dravida Kazhagam’s head for their manner of criticism in this issue. Ranjith pointed out the inherent casteism even amongst taking a so-called progressive stand.
In the viral video, EVKS Illangovan, the grand nephew of Periyar, says, “In Tamil Nadu, there are some people who call themselves ‘kings of music’. Anyone who pick up a tabla cannot become music composer. Those who when they were poor, struggled for food and picked up Communist ideals, now consider themselves upper-caste after gaining fame and money.”
Other Dravidian leaders like K Veeramani, the president of the DK can be seen sharing the stage with Ilangovan.
In the meantime the BJP president Annamalai endorsed Ilayaraja’s comparison of Narendra Modi and Ambedkar, saying that he is willing to debate the merits of the argument to those who are in need of clarity.
Ilayaraja by far keeps mum on the issue but allows his brother Gangai Amaran to speak on his behalf that he stands by the comparison made equating Ambedkar and Narendra Modi in the role of social transformation.