History & Culture

Chennai to see a festival that celebrates Tamil

The two-day long festival looks at the past, present and future of Tamil as a language   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

How will live graffiti manifest on the walls of a museum? Will it be considered blasphemous, or welcomed as an interesting creative possibility? More so, when done to promote Tamil, one of the longest surviving classical languages of India.

The heritage museum on DakshinaChitra’s sprawling grounds prepares to embrace Tamil for a weekend, in an attempt to familiarise the urban, contemporary crowd with its history and importance.

How do they do it? Through dance, theatre, music, literature and art. In the first edition of what aspires to be an annual affair, DakshinaChitra’s LangFest 2021 also hopes to redefine the institution’s image, from a static museum to an “indie talent-friendly” performance space.

When Ajay R stepped in as the assistant curator at the museum, he hoped to break the idea that a museum is “just an informative site”. He says, “Cultural spaces and museums can be fun, too.”

Live graffiti and tamil calligraphy workshops are part of the line-up

Live graffiti and tamil calligraphy workshops are part of the line-up   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Following discussions with Chennai-based curators, artists and designers, the seeds for the festival were sown in the form of a design contest titled TYPE 2021 (the results of which were announced a couple of days ago, from about 40 entries). “We announced four words — sangam, yali, eru thazhuvuthal and therukoothu — and asked designers to send in their creative interpretations of these. We thought of featuring these designs with exhibitions, initially. Then thought, why can’t we make it bigger?” says Ajay of the inception.

Though promoting the language of Tamil was already in the cards, doing so through young talent was a decision that was taken to explore the possibilities of the museum space.

“Chennaiites unite when they speak about Tamil. We are bringing in people who are enthusiastic about the language. We wanted to look at its past, present and future,” says Ajay.

The line-up says the same: from panel discussions on the script and culture of the language, Tamil identity, and how the language manifests in cinema and technology, to theatre performances and workshops on Tamil calligraphy and live graffiti, the event features a little bit of everything. Scholars like Bava Chelladurai and S Raghuraman, film personalities like director Gautam Vasudev Menon, lyricist Madhan Karky and indie artistes like Tenma and Siennor, will feature.

Artist Siennor

Artist Siennor   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Apart from the discussions are a host of theatre, live graffiti, music and folk arts performances: veteran actor Kalairani will perform Song of Lowino, adapted from a poem by Ugandan poet Okot P’Bitek, while Chennai-based graffiti writer Dibs 132 and the Aravani Art Project will showcase live graffiti. Indie musical acts by bands Othasevuru, Black Boys and The Siennor Trio will follow A Mangai’s theatre outing, Vellai Mozhi, performed by transgender author and activist A Revathi.

“After 7 pm we are having open mics and jam sessions; BYOI (Bring Your Own Instrument) edition. We are facilitating the idea that anybody who wants to perform, can perform at DakshinaChitra,” says Ajay.

LangFest will be held on February 20 and 21 from 10 am to 9 pm at DakshinaChitra Heritage Museum, Muttukadu. Entry is open to all.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 3:50:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/chennai-to-see-a-festival-that-celebrates-tamil/article33861489.ece

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