Carnatic vocalist Renuka Arun’s music videos highlight contemporary issues concerning women

Carnatic vocalist and independent musician   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

As the world observes 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2020, which goes on till December 10, Carnatic vocalist Renuka Arun turned to music to register her support for the elimination of violence against women and the LGBTQ community.

In the last week of November she uploaded ‘Maravairi’, an aesthetically shot video that narrates the story of two young women who fall in love. It depicts how their relationship evolves when they finally decide to throw caution to the wind and follow their heart. Based on the Thygaraja kriti in Nasikabhushani raga, Renuka designed a fusion that is visualised on the bond between the women. “At present, even after the reading down of Section 377, many face discrimination and ostracisation. Some of them are subject to terrible acts of violence. That is why I conceptualised this video on such a relationship,” explains Renuka, a senior corporate executive.

Premeired at the Krithi Festival in Kochi in 2019 by Bombay Jayasree, the film travelled to festivals in India and abroad and gained her bouquets and brickbats. Buoyed by the response to the music video, she is now working on the myth of Marutha, the vengeful yakshi thirsting for revenge even in the afterlife. “It is different from the maternal concept of women that we are used to hearing and reading about. This is an extremely different idea of a woman who unleashes her inner strength to destroy wrongdoers. The new music video I am working on, ‘Maruthayi, the fetish mother’, depicts this; she not only nurtures, she can also punish those who persecute women,” explains Renuka.

She wants to address abuse of women and children through the video. Written and composed by her, Renuka has fused the soundscape of the Macedonian Symphony Orchestra for the music. “It is a massive project and it proved that Malayalam lyrics can be in sync with a pure Western orchestration. I have not used Carnatic lyrics or music,” says Renuka.

A still from ‘Mariveri’, a music video by Renuka Arun

A still from ‘Mariveri’, a music video by Renuka Arun   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Although she had commenced work on it before the lockdown, the visualisation could not be completed. She hopes to finish and release it by January.

Renuka says reactions to ‘Maravairi’ were along predicable lines. “While the music and the singing was appreciated, conservative followers of Carnatic music were not happy with the way it was depicted on screen. They felt it was a travesty of the lyrics. On the other hand, there were many youngsters and liberals who empathised with the film.”

She points that the experimental work had begun as a piece to create fusion music with a rare raga. The LGBTQ concept came in later. “In the disclaimer, I made it clear that this is an experimental, conceptual divergence from the usual concept of Indian Classical music.”

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 5:01:36 AM |

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