Lyrical Travesty: The Continuing Saga Of Sexist Tamil Music

Posted: September 19, 2012

There were days when nothing was worth describing unless you compared it to a woman’s beauty. Whether it was the moon or a stream of crystal clear water poets had their own ways of comparing it to a beautiful women. And till today women remain inspiration for poetry and lyrics. Sadly, the recent trend where sexist lyrics seem to be “cool” and “happening” really disturbs me.

Irony. That is the first word that came to my mind when I saw this picture. A picture of Bharathiyar for a Hip Hop group doesn’t seem silly till you listen to the songs they write.For those of you who haven’t listened to Hip Hop Tamizha’s absurd song “Club Le Mabbu Le”, it is a form of moral policing. It is a narrow minded sexist video that talks about women and the pub culture. It is the kind of song that would make the rogues who molested women in Mangalore chuckle in delight. Due credit to their catchy music but I just wish the lead singer would shut up and let me enjoy the beats!

bharatiyarAnd they have a picture of Bharathiyar.

I feel obliged to tell them that Bharathiyar was a poet, a feminist and a man well ahead of his times. He was one of those men who dared to break gender stereotypes and tell the world that women and men were equal. He is a picture on a group that writes lyrics like “kaanji patta vittu putu kerchief katudunga”. (It means women leave the traditional clothes behind and are dressed immorally).

Have they forgotten that this was the man who told the world that “Karpunilai endru sollavandaar iru katchikum adhu podhuvil vaipom” (This means that if you want to talk about chastity it has to be for both the sexes!”)

Is he a mere publicity symbol? Is it yet another marketing strategy to prove that they are BRAND TAMIL?

It scares me to think that men today who are dressed in international brands and claim to be “modern” are in fact worse than our great grandfathers. If you still think you have the right to talk about “how a woman should behave”, well, grow up!

The song mentioned above is just an example of the lyrical travesty against women today. It started with the Kolaveri rage and it seems like anyone with a musical instrument and the capacity to string a few random words together has the privilege to insult women.“Whiteu-Skinu Girlu- Girl Heartu blacku” when sung by cheap scoundrels on the road amounts not only to eve-teasing but takes racism to a whole new level.

In the past few days thanks to a series of protests all of us clearly know what hurting religious sentiments can lead to. Even a small insult against a religion caste or country infuriates all of us so much. Why is it that people think that it is all in “good humor” to make fun of women in any way they please? Are we going to let this grow and wait until a group of mobsters come and molest women in order to “protect” our culture?

Violence is not only when someone picks up something and hits you. Hurting the sentiments of a section of the society with your words is also VIOLENCE!

When a person smokes/ drinks on screen or there is a visually violent sequence the censor board seems to take stringent measures. Yet music and words are the easiest way any message can reach the masses. How is hate speech any different when it is accompanied by background music?

I knew that this has to stop when I found a four year old child singing “Venam macha venam indha ponnunga kaadhalu” (I do not want the love of these girls!).

There is no point in trying to correct the bigger problems when our very roots are poisoned. What are we going to do about these trends that trample the very roots of gender equality?

Pic credit: Hiphop Tamizha’s Facebook page; image used for purposes of illustration

Nandhitha Hariharan is a writer with a love for anything that is pretty or covered

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  1. Coincidentally I happened to hear this song a couple of weeks back and was so annoyed at how regressive & insulting it is. Yes the music is catchy and I guess the guy is talented – but the lyrics are a big put off. I was alarmed to hear that this group is quite popular with the college crowd in Chennai. Even more appalling are the comments of like-minded people on the Youtube video of this song. I so agree with you – it is indeed sad to see young men who embrace “modernism” in their clothing, work & leisure but when it comes to women are adamantly narrow-minded. If he is so much against the pub culture what is he doing in a club in the first place? “Observing” the women who come there and waiting for inspiration to strike is it? He also goes on to state that not all women are bad, his mother is equivalent to God. Yeah right! Exactly the mentality of such men – the women in my family are saints but all other women can be insulted & demeaned. It makes me wonder about the fate of women who might end up marrying them *shudder*. Thank God Bharathiyar is no more!

  2. Oh my god!! I felt pukish seeing the video. So sad, that young boys think like this 🙁

  3. Tasmac bars line the streets of Chennai, where men drink and lounge around on the road, often causing discomfort to women passing by. But of course, its only women who drink in pubs without causing a problem to anyone, who need a reprimand.

  4. @Anne : Absolutely..double standards everywhere! and @Aparna How true is that ! It is a nightmare to even pass through one of those shops..

  5. Thanks for writing this, as I am a great fan of tamil poetry. And sorry for reading it only now.
    Misuse of the language by way of introducing ‘chennai and slum’ language has caused not only the language to deteriorate, but also the people’s values have gone down with it. I do not understand why the movies show heroes and their friends talking so much about tasmac and love-failure, as if it is some fashion statement. On top of it, the dialogues, as if the men are suffering in the hands of women all the time and it is because of them that these guys are drinking..(so sad, I pity such ‘innocent children’ who did not know any thing about alcohol till they met the girl!)
    I wish the youth are inspired to do something loftier than chase girls (who anyway is a problem, according to them). There are western movies also which shows various facets of life and it comes in different genres. In such movies there are interesting young people working with science experiments or working for a social cause. Those movies do not come into the ‘art movie category’ at all. It is both entertaining and interesting. It is sad that Indian movies hardly show such youth in the movies, who can be better role models. Our young heroes (who may in real life be 50 yrs of age) find a great sense of achievement if they can stalk a girl, ‘catch the figure’ (sounds cheap and disgusting) and roam around with her. To this the heroine is also shown to be idiotically agreeing when the hero lures her with the latest model fancy car or bike….my God. I have not seen such women in real life. Has anyone seen?
    Catering to the cheap audience and justifying the same has become the norm of the directors and producers, that we are cursed to watch crap stuff most of the time.

    Thanks to the writer, for airing a very genuine concern, which is trivialised by many in our society.

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