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This Carnatic Singer Highlights Women’s Issues In Her Music Videos

. 3 min read . Written by Vanshika Goenka
This Carnatic Singer Highlights Women’s Issues In Her Music Videos

Renuka Arun, a Carnatic vocalist, uploaded the music video for her latest song, Maravairi, in the last week of November. The music video depicts the story of two women falling in love. 

The video, conceptualised by Arun, premiered in the Krithi Festival in Kochi in 2019 where it was met with abundant praise. The film travelled to several national and international festivals since then. The concept was Arun’s way of showing support to the LBGTQ community after the Supreme Court struck down Section 377 which criminalised homosexuality.

Renuka Arun, who works as an IT professional, has been engaged with Carnatic music for over 28 years.

Carnatic Singer Renuka Arun’s Videos Depict Womanhood In Its Varied Forms

Marivairi, directed by Jithin Lal, is the story of two women who meet during a film festival and find themselves attracted to each other. Many tension-filled moments later, they choose to live their own truths and decide to embrace their feelings for one another without the fear of judgement. Says Arun, “At present, even after the reading down of Section 377, many face discrimination and ostracisation. Some of them are subject to terrible acts of violence. That is why I conceptualised this video on such a relationship.”

Arun redesigned the original song – composed by Saint Thyagaraja – to give it a more fusion-inspired sound. Though the progressive Carnatic sound was already in the picture, the conceptualisation of the video came in later. While it was received positively overall, it didn’t go well with some. “While the music and singing was appreciated, conservative followers of Carnatic music were not happy with the way it was depicted on screen. They felt it was a travesty of the lyrics. On the other hand, there were many youngsters and liberals who empathised with the film,” she said.

This Carnatic Singer Highlights Women’s Issues In Her Music Videos
Still from the music video

After the rave responses to Marivairi, Arun is working on a new concept that revolves around Marutha, a yakshi who is vengeful even in the afterlife about the wrongs that have been done to her. Through the video, Arun wants to depict a different kind of womanhood that isn’t usually emphasised. “This is an extremely different idea of a woman who unleashes her inner strength to destroy wrongdoers. The new video I am working on, Maruthayi, the fetish mother, depicts this; she not only nurtures, she can also punish those who persecute women,” she says. She hopes to bring it out by January next year.

It’s Important To Represent Women In All Their Complex Glory

Women are often depicted in popular culture in a way that is palatable to the general audience. Over the decades, women’s representation in films and TV has only modified itself; it has not changed the normative concepts of womanhood. Regardless of how far we have come, female characters continue to be sexualised; they usually have no career paths or well-developed character arcs or are progressive only in matters of their sexuality. The idea behind Renuka Arun’s video is, hence, novel – showing two women falling in love, disregarding the judgement that may befall them. It’s a fresh perspective that many can learn from.

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