Feature Article

Art, literature, should enlighten masses on larger forces at work

[TamilNet, Monday, 09 June 2014, 23:29 GMT]
When the last king of Kandy in the island of Ceylon, who belonged to the Telugu-speaking Nayaka dynasty of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, was conquered and captured by British imperialism in 1815, history, literature and plays written on him by both Sinhalese and Tamils in the island were focussing only on a historically still unproven point that he killed the children of the Sinhala chieftain Ehelapola who joined the British and made the chieftain’s wife to pound the heads of the children in a mortar. That was the highlight of all the plays on the king, performed to this date. None of the writers or playwrights saw the ultimate culprits or the larger dimensions of the onset of colonialism. That was the success of British colonialism.

We find the re-enactment of the same paradigm today, in the writings, theatre and films on Eezham Tamils that focus on ‘self-criticism, self-defeat or self-pitying’ but never project the phenomenon in its due larger perspectives or identify the ultimate forces that are operating to their interests. This is the current conquest of ‘counterinsurgency’ oriented neo-imperialism, commented academic circles in Jaffna.

Tamil Nadu was historically much better as it didn’t fall a prey to the British campaign of projecting Kaddappomman as a bandit.

In 1857, writing from London, there were Karl Marx and Engels to set the perspectives right, by coming out with the lead “First War of Indian Independence” when the British tried to paint the wide-spread war of that year in India as mere “Sepoy Mutiny.”

Unfortunately, the so-called Marxists today have compromised with imperialists.

Ananda Coomaraswamy, born to an Eezham Tamil father and English mother, refused to join the British Army during the First World War, protesting Britain’s denial of independence to India. As a punishment, his property in Britain was confiscated and more than that, he was not permitted to enter into any part of the then British Empire, including India and his fatherland Ceylon. He lived in the USA for three decades and was never able to see India or Ceylon in his subsequent lifetime. But the British could not stop the scholar from making a global impact in culturally facing colonialism.

If the Tamil creative writers, researchers, playwrights, artists and film-makers care more for how the posterity is going to judge their work and their times, then they should not care for publishers of the Establishments, funding agencies, interviews to corporate media, acceptance by ‘refereed journals’ and the so-called international awards, but should consciously orientate their work for directing the struggle to face its due target and for giving confidence and optimism to the masses, the academic circles commented further.

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