Tamil Features

Margazhiyil Makkal Isai: 8-Day Music Festival Ends on a High Note

It is an hour ahead of the start of Day 8 of Neelam Cultural Centre’s music fest Margazhiyil Makkal Isai. The artists are busy doing one last soundcheck before their performance, unaware of the eager crowd thronging the doors of the main auditorium of the Music Academy, waiting to be let in.


Formulated by filmmaker Pa Ranjith through his Neelam Cultural Centre, Margazhiyil Makkal Isai is a music festival that aims to bring the music of the people to spaces that are predominantly occupied by upper-class and upper-caste groups. This year, the festival spanned eight days and three cities, ending with the show at the Music Academy in Chennai on Friday. The event’s chief guests included VCK MP Thol Thirumavalavan, DMK MP Kanimozhi, director Vetrimaaran, and MLA A Krishnaswamy.

Speaking about the festival, director Pa Ranjith said, “For the past eight days, many people have been coming every day and the event has been a success because of the audience. I thank them.”

The closing show of the second edition of Margazhiyil Makkal Isai was kickstarted by Pampambadi Jamba Melam, a group that performed periya melam (a folk art consisting of drum beats and dance). Beating their drums, the artists took to the stage sporting thick anklets that accentuated their moves. In intervals, the audience also joined them by whistling and crooning to their beats.

The second performance of the night was by the famed music band, The Casteless Collective. Speaking to Silverscreen India, Srinivas, an audience member, mentioned that he was excited to see the performance of rapper Arivu, a member of The Casteless Collective and curator of the festival. “We met Arivu once three years ago and we have been following his work since,” he said.

The band performed a variety of songs, including favourites such as Vada Chennai and Beef, for an enthusiastic audience that was seen waving their mobile flashlights and grooving to the music.

The evening also saw many indigenous artists being conferred with music awards. Announcing the launch of Makkalisai Mamani Awards, the Neelam Cultural Centre gave eleven folk artists an award and a cash prize of Rs 50,000 for their contribution to music. The artists who were honoured included folk singer Susilammal, periya melam artist Paapambatti Munuswamy, and singer Manimegalai K, who also collected the award on behalf of Dalit Subbaiah.

While conferring the artists with the Makkalisai Mamani awards, MP Kanimozhi noted the importance of a festival of this nature being held at the Music Academy. “Normally, during Margazhi season, the audience will be quiet while someone is performing on this stage. But today, the stage is shaking because of the (audience’s) reaction,” she said.

The other chief guests also spoke about the significance of such an event. MP Thol Thirumavalavan said, “Artists who have been sidelined or ignored all this while have been invited to perform on a stage in Mylapore that has traditionally been used by people who claim to be superior to the rest. I am proud and happy that Ranjith, a revolutionary director, has brought these artists together and given them a stage where people who claim to born from Brahma’s head usually perform.”


Margazhiyil Makkal Isai will be back for a third edition next Margazhi season.


(Silverscreen India is a media partner for Margazhiyil Makkal Isai)