Margazhiyil Makkal Isai, the ongoing music festival instituted by filmmaker Pa Ranjith, issued a statement on Thursday condemning the spread of defamatory information about the event. This was a reaction to Tamil Nadu BJP’s media spokesperson SG Suryah sharing a video of a performance with controversial lyrics on Twitter and alleging that it was from the festival.
Pointing out that the fest aims to take “people’s art to the masses,” the statement said, “More than 500 artists are participating in this festival, yet many are spreading defamatory information and fake news about our festival. We will be proceeding legally against all those spreading this kind of false information about us on the internet.”
Director Pa Ranjith’s Neelam Cultural Centre formulated Margazhiyil Makkal Isai with a mission to bring the music of the people into spaces predominantly occupied by upper-class and upper-caste groups. The second edition of the festival, which began in Madurai on December 18, will continue in Chennai until December 31. It features artists performing indigenous art forms like Naatupura Isai (folk songs), Gaana, and Oppari, among others, that were earlier relegated just to the streets.
On Thursday, Suryah had posted a clip of a performance that had lines about impregnating a young girl, which he claimed was from the festival. In a now-deleted tweet, he wrote, “A play from controversial Tamil movie director Pa Ranjith’s Neelam Cultural Centre program Margazhiyil Makkal Isai. ‘Abduct 14 year old girl, make her pregnant so that she won’t leave you!’ Feminazis drooling over Ranjith will maintain pin drop silence.”
After several social media users pointed out that the performance was not from the ongoing fest, Suryah admitted his error and said, “The folk song being shared is an old video & not from Margazhiyil Makkal Isai. I stand corrected & regret for not cross-checking. Time to report this content in YouTube & elsewhere.” He also shared a screenshot of the video, which is now unavailable on YouTube.
However, Suryah then went on to justify his mistake by sharing a scene from Ranjith’s debut film Attakathi, and saying, “My attribution of that play to Pa Ranjith was wrong. But not without history. Ranjith’s movie Attakathi had a similar dialogue – the transcript is so third-rated that I cannot reproduce it. Hence it was natural for anyone to fall if it’s attributed to him.”
Ranjith has not commented on the issue so far.
(Silverscreen India is a media partner for Margazhiyil Makkal Isai)