“Enjoy Enjaami” is all over the internet. As of now, the internet sensation has 178 Million views on Youtube only in the few weeks of its release. And if you still haven’t heard it then you must be living under a rock. But on the other hand, this gives you more of a reason to watch this video and understand that in the world of the exhaustive list of chart-toppers with monotonous melodies just to repeat the success of the previous one, this Tamil song comes with new sounds, fresh vibe packaged with history, artistry, and meaning.
About The Song
Enjoy Enjaami is a song by Arivu and Dhee, both Tamil Independent Artists, and the music is composed by Santhosh Narayan, a popular name in the Tamil film Industry. The song came out from the production house Majjaa, which is a tech – platform by AR Rahman to promote South-Asian indie artists on a global scale, without compromising the creative control of the artists.
Though “Majja” has produced the song yet they don’t own the right of the song, it is all the artists who have the copyright. This “artist-centric” approach of the platform allows the artist to be vocal about the things that matter to them. And this freedom helps the rapper Arivu to pen down such politically conscious lyrics and make a strong statement about his identity and the politics around it on the song.
Understanding The Lyrics
The song’s lyrics take inspiration from the history of Aruvi’s ancestors, the Jaffna Tamils or Sri-Lankan Tamils or Ceylon Tamils who were landless laborers in Sri-Lanka for generations and then were forcefully sent back to India in the 1960s under ‘Sirima-Shastri Pact’, resulting in their separation from the families they made in Sri-Lanka over the years.
This story is told in form of a conversation between Aruvi & his grandmother ‘Valliamma’ who was one of those Ceylon Tamils. Aruvi asks her about how she procured that “Shrink bag with betel and nuts.” That “what magic did (she) do”. She answers with “(As a) Blessing to lead a good life, our ancestors have bequeathed us this soil. Across the river banks and on the fertile fields, our forefathers have sung through their life.” After hearing this story Aruvi realizes that “Bitter Gourd in my canopy, it has given us seeds, left by our mom and dad (ancestors).”
Aruvi made very clever choices of words and metaphors while writing this song. It speaks of the oppression of marginalized communities through the words like
• “Lilly is making fun of me” (the privileged think that they are superior),
• “The lakes and ponds belong to the dogs, foxes, and cats too.” (Public resources being denied to the people classified as untouchables, but should be equally accessible for everyone),
• “The hen is laying the egg. Who dolled up the peacock? Algae spreading its green. Nest arranged by tiny twigs.” (The marginalized are always denied of their due credit when they’re the ones working hard for the success of people, the peacock, who gets it all)
• “I planted five trees. Nurtured a beautiful garden. My garden is flourishing. Yet my throat remains dry.” (It directly connects to the history of those landless laborers who gave away their life working in fields, making gardens for someone else and got nothing but pain & oppression in return)
The actual brilliance of ‘Enjoy Enjaami’ begins apart from this story because even after years of oppression that still continues Aruvi doesn’t demand revenge but hopes for an egalitarian society where everybody believes that
• “Swimming frog in the water is the sister of the caterpillar” (We all are humans first, that is all we need to exist together happily)
• Where everything is “our sea, our bank, our forest, our people, our lands, our clan, our place, and our track.”
This message is the core of ‘Enjoy Enjaami’ like the word Enjaami has two meanings, one is ‘my dear’ and the other is ‘my lord’ (what marginalized people used to call their master/bosses in the old times). Hence this song is a song of love, a song of hope, inviting all who is dear and who were/are the oppressors to end their differences, to end their foolish quarrels under this pointless social hierarchy and “come together as one” to enjoy & celebrate this wonderful world and their people as our equal.
Understanding The Symbolism
Through the lyrics, Arivu has courageously told the story of his people, but apart from the lyrics the signs of resistance, breaking stigmas and a peek in his culture were all over in the music and visuals too. The creators have brilliantly placed them in the right place, complimenting the song and sending the message strongly.
• Arivu other than her Valliamma has also tributed Mukul Paranthaman, a scholar who collected folk songs all his life and publishing them as books. And from one of his works only, Arivu performed an Oppari bit in the song. He sang “I planted five trees. Nurtured a beautiful garden. My garden is flourishing. Yet my throat remains dry” expressing the grief of his ancestors. Oppari is a folk song tradition, but traditionally sung in death ceremonies is now a dying ancient art but after Arivu adding it is probably one of the biggest songs of the year hopefully changes this.
• The song incorporates the Parai drumming; it is the part of the traditional dance Paraiattam in Tamil culture where people dance to the rhythm of Parai. But, the caste-aligned history of the instrument only associates it with the Dalit community, and the stigma around it that it is only played at funeral procession is also inaccurate as historically it has been played in the courts of Cholas and Pandiyans. Though many are working towards bringing respect to the art form, incorporating Parai in a song that celebrates life not and not death is a very strong statement by the creators to the society.
• The visuals focus multiple times on the land, close-up shots where hand approaches land showing the attachment of the people to the lands. Those lands make them remember the struggle of their people and that same land holds their bright future. Valliamma has done menial jobs to educate Arivu’s mother which later on gave freedom to Arivu to follow his passion, music. That’s why he gives the whole credit of the song to Valliamma.
In a world where people at top of the social hierarchy, celebrate the life of their ancestors who have been warriors or politicians, who feel proud of their strength and valor, Arivu wearing his identity on his sleeves and talking about the exploitation of his ancestors faced, unapologetically is very inspiring. Yet, he is not filled with hate and does not want revenge, he hopes for a better future for everyone. And that’s why he sings enjoy my dear and come together as one.