“Enjoy Enjaami”: How a Tamil Song Led to a Public Outcry About Caste

A magazine cover by Rolling Stone India and a Times Square billboard sparked public outrage over Dalit erasure.

Arivu in the music video for "Enjoy Enjaami"
Arivu in the music video for "Enjoy Enjaami"

Zinara Rathnayake


October 1, 2021

When Maajja — an independent label from award-winning music composer A.R. Rahman — released the music video for “Enjoy Enjaami” on March 6, 2021, it went viral, receiving 19 million views on YouTube within a week; at the time of publishing, the video had crossed over 340 million views.

The song featured vocals from Dhee and Arivu. Arivu, a Chennai-based rapper-songwriter, also wrote the song, inspired by his grandmother Valliamma, a Dalit laborer in Sri Lanka, as a tribute to his ancestors. The song features an oppari — a traditional lament Tamil women sing in funerals to express grief — from his grandmother’s perspective, on caste-based oppression that deprives the Dalit community of their land. For Tamils around the world, “Enjoy Enjaami’s” massive success was a source of pride.

However, in August, music magazine Rolling Stone India published a cover with Dhee and Tamil Canadian artist Shan Vincent de Paul that dedicated space to “Enjoy Enjaami.” But despite Arivu’s contribution, the magazine didn’t feature him and dedicated only a few lines to his story.

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