“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.

Zinara Rathnayake

October 1, 2021

“Enjoy Enjaami”: How a Tamil Song Led to a Public Outcry About Caste
Arivu in the music video for "Enjoy Enjaami"

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.