CHENNAI: Justice Rocks will be releasing their recent production, Drums of Resistance or Poratam a percussion-only ensemble on September 3 at The Learning Community at Quest, Besant Nagar. The music video, which aims to voice out the concerns of the poromboke-based communities, will be released by director Vetrimaaran.
In addition to the launch, there will be a live percussion performance of Poratam by percussionists, playing instruments like mridangam, thavil, and parai among other world instruments. Director Vetrimaaran will also moderate a talk with individuals from poromboke-based communities.
Speaking to DT Next, director Vetrimaaran says, “Land is not just land, it is livelihood, identity, tradition and culture of people from the oppressed community. But all of it go invisible when land is only looked at as land for ‘development’.”
Organisers say that three fisherwomen, Rajalakshmi, Vijaya, and Uma, who reside in a fishing village on the TN-AP border will be a part of the panel along with two other fisherwomen belonging to the Irula tribe. Other members are an organic farmer from Kattoor, Linga, and Deepan N, a parai artiste from Korukkupet.
“It may sound very clichéd, but as a parai artiste, I take pride in being able to perform on the platform alongside other percussionists. My joy is doubled knowing I’ll be performing in front of Vetri sir. Parai was earlier limited to certain spaces. Now seeing people come to just enjoy and celebrate this art makes me feel content,” says Deepan N.
Justice Rocks is a Chennai-based collective initiative, hosted by the Vettiver Collective, that uses music and art as a medium to address and stage important social issues and critique them through satire.
Divulging on the details of the video, Nityanand Jayaraman, a volunteer at Vettiver Collective says, “Drums for Resistance is English for poratam. This is a sequel to a video we released in 2017 called Chennai Poromboke Paadal featuring TM Krishna. The video became very popular and initiated a conversation about the term ‘poromboke’. Today it is used as a derogatory term used to refer to things that are worthless, while in reality, it represents the lands held by communities that have shared communal use.”
He says that the poromboke lands are rich in culture and biodiversity. “These lands are extremely important for a variety of aspects. Such communities are paid compensation for the lands that the Government tries to acquire to construct an airport or a seaport. Lands mean a lot more to these communities. It is not about a one-time compensation profit for them. It is the removal of culture, identity, society, livelihood and arts,” he says.
He talks about the importance of conserving the culture of each of these communities holding these lands. “People derive their identity from their lands. Such things cannot be transformed into something like money. These things are hidden in the capitalist society and lands are repurposed under the carpet of conservation of wetlands, development and other projects.
“Poratam is a video that aims to educate people that land is never just land and hopes to protect the poromboke commons,” he remarks.