The Boss is Back 16

After 12 days, Rajinikanth’s Annaatthe has grossed 2,250,000,000 Rupees (30,204,000.00 USD) 5 at the box-office. This despite the film receiving almost universally dreadful reviews. I myself, despite being an eager Superstar fan, found the film dreadfully loud, sentimental, violent and unconvincing. In spite of excellent parts, not least of which is Thalaivar’s reunion with Kushbu and Meena, it just does not pull together as a whole. The Times of India review gives the film 2/5 stars and is titled, “Even Rajinikanth cannot save badly written Annaaatthe.” Well it looks like they were completely wrong. The Superstar, it seems, has saved the film single-handedly!

What is it about Rajinikanth that enables him to draw the faithful even as a 70 year-old playing his signature super cool and superhumanly heroic character? Does the answer lie in his indubitably unique persona and ability to connect with the masses? Or does it lie in the Tamilian culture of adulation, veneration and deification of exemplars, and the ease with which Tamils nominate living culture heroes !

See also

Rajinikanth’s Political Entry
Thani Vazhi (தனி வழி)
Who is Kaala dada?
Who is Rajinikanth Dada?
Abhimanyu Sir
Thalaivaa!!
Yar Nee Ayah?
Kaala Karikaalan
A Post-Traditional Polity?
Rajinikanth Glows Saffron
Gaikwad cries Jai Bhim

Image: https://www.rfi.fr/en/business-and-tech/20211105-covid-hit-india-cinemas-bet-on-delayed-blockbusters-to-revive-crowds

https://www.msn.com/en-in/entertainment/southcinema/annaatthe-box-office-collection-day-12-rajinikanth-starrer-earns-rs-225-crore/ar-AAQKKXo

The Boss is Back 10

With Annaatthe about to be released, a Malaysian politician claims a likeness to the SUPERSTAR! According to Baling MP Abdul Azeez bin Abdul Rahim his Indian constituents call him Padayappa, after Rajnikanth’s character who champions the cause of the poor and downtrodden in the film of the same name. He also took great pride in saying “I speak in fluent Tamil, which shows I not only accept the language but also keep it in high regard.” Sorry lah but I always thought the honorable member of parliament was a Tamil … you know what I mean … in ancestry, like he learnt it at home from Ammamma or more likely Appappa (judging from his proud colour, maybe even from his Appa?)! Anyhow, the point is that this analogy was thrown up in his self-defense after being angrily accused, perhaps unfairly, of insulting the Tamil language by the even more colorful Jelutong MP Sanisvara Nethaji Rayer s/o Rajaji Rayer … and it was all over an elephant! Here is the video!

What can I say … nampaknya –

Baling sama Jelutong berlawan

gajah pulak di tengah-tengah!

Image: https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2021/10/27/they-call-me-padayappa-in-baling-says-azeez/

Know Thyself

Directed by M. A. Thirumugam and starring M. G. Ramachandran and Savitri, the Tamil film Vettaikaaran (The Hunter) was released in 1964. The song Unnai Arinthaal is from this hit movie’s soundtrack. The music is by K. V. Mahadevan, lyrics by Kannadasan and the unsurpassable singer is T. M. Soundararajan.

உன்னை அறிந்தால்
நீ உன்னை அறிந்தால்
உலகத்தில் போராடலாம்

Unnai Arinthaal
Nee Unnai Arinthaal
Ulagathil Poraadalaam

Know thyself
If you know yourself
You can take the whole world on

“If you want to know what you are you cannot imagine or have belief in something which you are not. If I am greedy, envious, violent, merely having an ideal of non-violence, of non-greed, is of little value. But to know that one is greedy or violent, to know and understand it, requires an extraordinary perception, does it not? It demands honesty, clarity of thought, whereas to pursue an ideal away from what ‘is‘ is an escape; it prevents you from discovering and acting directly upon what you are.”

J. Krishnamurti

https://ratical.org/many_worlds/K/K4.html

Keling Pariah 3

Paraiyans.

Although the Paraiyan community serves various important functions in Tamil village society, their name is associated with the lowest of the low in village life – the stray dog. I have personally heard the phrase ‘para naieh’ or ‘lowly stray dog’ used in my childhood. Edgar Thurston lists some Tamil proverbs that refer to Paraiyans —

(1) If a Paraiyan boils rice, will it not reach God? meaning God will notice all piety, even that of a lowly Paraiyan.

(2) When a Paraiya woman eats betel, her ten fingers will be daubed with lime, meaning the Paraiya woman is a slut.

(3) Though a Paraiya woman’s child be put to school, it will still say Ayyē, where Ayyē is vulgar for Aiyar or Sir.

(4) The palmyra palm has no shadow: the Paraiyan has no regard for seemliness, meaning the Paraiya has ne decorum.

(5) The gourd flower and the Paraiyan’s song have no savour, sadly the Paraiyans use this saying themsleves.

(6) Though seventy years of age, a Paraiyan will only do what he is compelled, perhaps infantilizing the Paraiyan.

(7) You may believe a Paraiyan, even in ten ways; you cannot believe a Brāhman, using the Parayian as the low mark.

(8) Is the sepoy who massacred a thousand horse now living in disgrace with the dogs of the parachēri? the Paraiyan settlement as a place of shame.

(9) Paraiyan’s talk is half-talk., perhaps a reference to Paraiya uncouthness.

(10) Like Paraiya and Brāhman, meaning a vast chasm of difference.

(11) Not even a Paraiyan will plough on a full moon day, perhaps a reference to the unclean or unholy aspect of the Paraiyan.

(12) Parachēri manure gives a better yield than any other manure, referring to the lowliness and the exploitation of the Paraiyan.

(13) The drum is beaten at weddings, and also at funerals, meaning a double-dealing unreliable character.

(14) The harvest of the Paraiya never comes home, meaning wastefulness or perhaps irresponsibility?

Before the Malaysian Indian community reacts to the pejorative connotations of the word Keling in Malay language and idiomatic expressions, we should look at our own prejudices and racism towards our own Tamil brothers and sisters.

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Castes_and_Tribes_of_Southern_India/Paraiyan

It’s Time to be Clear 8

The King is Dead, Long Live the King (also lets not forget the Queen). As Paul Street puts it, “It’s hard to get overly excited about Joe Biden on the Left.” as his ascendency to the Presidency of the highest power on the world stage, is premised on an “extremely low bar : he’s not a malignant fascist sociopath.” Street goes on to explain what he describes as Biden’s “corporate, imperial, white-supremacist, and patriarchal record.”

Biden’s second in command, Kamala Harris is, like me, Tamil. She is also African American. Indeed, she represents the present inclusive phase of the ever cycling identitarianism of American exceptionalism. However as Fawzia Afzal-Khan suggests, the identity politics of her election as the first female vice-president of the United States of America has, thus far, been only skin-deep. It is not, she insists, something we should “tout as a badge of honor or pride.” She furthers asserts that what we need instead, is an affiliative identity politics, rather than one that is merely skin-deep. While I sincerely wish America and Americans well in this dawning presidential cycle, I am not very optimistic.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/01/22/why-biden-may-be-less-evil-than-obama-and-clinton-and-why-this-may-not-matter-all-that-much-in-the-end/

https://counter-currents.com/2017/06/what-is-identitarianism/

https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/01/21/will-kamala-do-the-right-thing/

It’s Time to be Clear 2

So what is Fascism? In The Anatomy of Fascism, Robert Paxton defines fascism as “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”

While there is no doubt that Donald Trump and by implication the Republican Party have been flirting with White Supremacy, and thereby bringing the USA within the ambit of Paxton’s definition, as a Malaysian Tamil who has lived in the UK, I can not but think of the analogous forces that have given us Brexit, Ketuanan Melayu and Hindutva.

Further, as an immigrant to Canada and as a resident of British Columbia, I struggle to disentangle my new, welcoming and multicultural home from its White Supremacist provenance, and I wonder about the future.

http://libcom.org/files/Robert%20O.%20Paxton-The%20Anatomy%20of%20Fascism%20%20-Knopf%20(2004).pdf

https://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist151/Paxton_Fascism/Paxton%20Anatomy%20of%20Fascism%20Chap8.pdf

6 Heroes

Keling Maya: Post-traditional Media, Malaysian Cyberspace and Me, presented at the Aliran Semasa Symposium, 2013, at the National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur.

0 Performance
1 Keling Maya
2 Cyberspace
3 Model
4 Heterotopia
5 Rajinikanth
7 Telinga Keling
8 Keling Babi
9 Duchamp
10 MGG Pillai
11 Pantun
12 Praxis
13 Dochakuka
14 Post-tradition
15 Philosophia Perennis

5 Rajinikanth

Keling Maya: Post-traditional Media, Malaysian Cyberspace and Me, presented at the Aliran Semasa Symposium, 2013, at the National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur.

Please Note: In this video the Japanese term ‘Dochakuka’ is mispronounced ‘Dochakaku.’

0 Performance
1 Keling Maya
2 Cyberspace
3 Model
4 Heterotopia
6 Heroes
7 Telinga Keling
8 Keling Babi
9 Duchamp
10 MGG Pillai
11 Pantun
12 Praxis
13 Dochakuka
14 Post-tradition
15 Philosophia Perennis

Murugan and Rajinikanth

Kiasu Cowboys Performance, Koboi Project, Singapore Art Museum 2017

In the midst of the Political storm caused in Tamil Nadu by the Periyarist Karuppar Koottam facebook chanel’s recent denigration of Lord Murugan and his Kanda Sashti Kavasam, Superstar Rajinikanth came out form his political hibernation to acknowledge the sitting AIADMK state government, itself Periyarist in inception, for the swift crackdown on the alleged provocation. Two protagonists of the disturbance were arrested and charged with ‘giving provocation intent to cause riot’, ‘promoting enmity between different groups’ and ‘deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings’ under the Indian Penal Code.

Writing on this matter based on my valid, if limited, locus standi, as a Jaffna born Tamil, I must note that while I am enamored of the ethos and charisma of Dravidian politics, I have never appreciated its central praxis of narrow communal scapegoating as a means to mass mobilization. While admiring their pioneering deconstruction of religion and myth as means to power and as forms of social control, I have always rejected their blank atheism as a window onto the truth of human existence. Without developing this sensitive, explosive even, subject further, I would like to take the opportunity of its topicality to index my own engagement with this nexus of Muruga and Thalaiva! In 2016/17, I presented an installation and performance at the Singapore Biennale which itself became the basis for 5th photographic series of the Koboi Project titled Kiasu Cowboys. Central to this work are the acknowledgement of Lord Murugan, via an antique terra cotta icon of the ‘mango myth’ and a large photographic print of a cinema hoarding of Superstar Rajinikanth.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCInQup_YzESGFToU1zZ8JBg
https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/india-news-two-tamil-nadu-periyar-activists-arrested-for-offensive-video-on-lord-muruga/357020
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bc31a0xd1FUhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bc31a0xd1FU
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_India_Anna_Dravida_Munnetra_Kazhagam
https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/karuppar-koottam-hindu-peravai-members-held-under-goondas-act/article32207633.ece
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Tamil_Nadu
https://koboibalikkampung.wixsite.com/kiasuhttps://koboibalikkampung.wixsite.com/kiasu
https://koboibalikkampung.wixsite.com/kiasu/icon
https://koboibalikkampung.wixsite.com/kedualan

Koboi Balik Kampung 2

1 MUDIK PULANG Koboi Balik Kampung Series, 12 Chromogenic Printed in a Limited Edition of 9, Niranjan Rajah, 2015

​I will be presenting my Koboi Balik Kampung series of the Koboi Project at Percha Art Space in Lumut over the Christmas and New Year period. The show, titled Dari Pusat Tasek, will open on 25th Dec and run for 2 weeks. Koboi Balik Kampung presents a very personal perspective on the complexities of contemporary Malaysian art and society. It explores the notion of returning home from the diaspora, but also interrogates this idea in terms of the complex relationship between nationality and ethnicity. It was conceived in the course of my visit to Malaysia for Aliran Semasa {RearView Forward}, a series of events curated by Roopesh Sitharan in June and July, 2013. The images were gleaned from my activities in Kuala Lumpur and its surroundings. The titles delve deep into the Malay idioms and expressions. The series was mainly shot by my daughter Durga Rajah who was my constant companion on this trip.