Tamil Nadu

Catching the solitary tune of Kinnaram: a new documentary explores the journey of a folk music artiste

Sound Mani and Arunachalam Ayya with the Kinnaram   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A documentary shot by a sound engineering student at the M.G.R. Government Film and Television Institute in Chennai has thrown light on a 63-year-old solitary folk music artiste, who has been playing Kinnaram, a traditional string instrument for over half a century.

Sound Mani, the final-year student, happened to chance upon the Kinnaram artiste Arunachalam Ayya of Nandhavanam in Tiruppur district, when he was pooling funds to help traditional music artistes across the State during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“It was a mere coincidence that I came to know about Arunachalam Ayya and his Kinnaram. The Kinnaram is a wonderful instrument made from a type of surakkai (bottle guard/calabash) from neighbourhood gardens. Arunachalam Ayya has been playing it for about 50 years now,” Mani, who is a native of Erode district said.

Inspired by the rich musical tradition behind the story of Arunachalam Ayya’s Kinnaram, the young man decided to shoot a series of documentaries on his subject. “I have shot a 16-minute documentary, ‘Kinnaram’ on him and another 22-minute long one which captures one of his songs about the story of Kovalan and Kannagi from one of the earliest Tamil epics, Silappathikaram,” Mani said.

Kinnaram, a single string instrument, is among a few folk art forms in Tamil Nadu in its last stages, Sound Mani says in his opening sentence in the documentary. Just like many other traditional music artistes, Arunachalam Ayya, who is playing this instrument as the third-generation artiste, struggles to make ends meet and has no one in the family to pass the skill on to.

The student approached Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture, Thangam Thennarasu, after getting to know the Minister’s interest for art forms in the State. In a simple event at the Secretariat, the Minister released the documentary earlier this month.

Cut off from the modern world and even without a mobile phone for himself, the traditional artiste is now getting used to the attention he is receiving after the documentary.


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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 5:32:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/catching-the-solitary-tune-of-kinnaram-a-new-documentary-explores-the-journey-of-a-folk-music-artiste/article35483539.ece

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