New Delhi/Chennai: Twitter and other social media platforms are under the scanner yet again.
According to highly-placed sources in the government, the Union Home Ministry has sent out a ‘high priority note’ to the IT Ministry ‘to keep a close watch’ on the ‘hate speeches’ and ‘rabid exchanges’ that seem unstoppable on social media platforms, especially Twitter.
But unlike in the aftermath of the Assam clashes, the reaction of the government this time around does not seem unduly ‘alarmist’.
For, the hate exchanges in question now are between the most fanatical and fierce adversarial groups known to mankind: Ilayaraja fans and A R Rahman followers.
‘We are shocked by the kind of things that are being said on Twitter and other platforms,’ a spokesperson of the Home Ministry said of the sparring between the fans of two famed music directors.
‘Frankly, the kind of vehemence and venom flowing around is well above the danger-threshold. So we have alerted the IT Ministry to keep tab on the two warring sides, and, if need be, take some serious precautionary measures,’ the spokesperson said and added: ‘if you operate a Rahul Gandhi parody account stay safe. For, when Assam burned and Mumbai rioted we doused the communal fires by taking out those spoofing Manmohan Singh. So this time we will go after Rahul baiters’.
Ilayaraja and Rahman fans have always been at each other’s throat. But the rivalry has intensified and spilled over to twitter as a full-fledged verbal war ever since Ilayaraja seems to have made a stirring comeback in Tamil films, especially in the ones in which he is not the designated music director.
‘Yes, it has come to a situation where there is more Ilayaraja music in Tamil films these days than when he was fully busy and at his peak in the 80s,’ explains Tala Naresh, a diehard fan of Ilayaraja. ‘Sometimes his songs are played in the background. Sometime his music is shown as the muse for the hero or heroine to fall in love. Sometime his name itself is just invoked,’ he adds.
So this categorically proves the timelessness of his music? ‘No, this categorically proves that our film directors are still making the kind of movies that were made in the 80s,’ Naresh points out.
Another music aficionado, Pandian, says: ‘time was once Ilayaraja’s music was the USP of the film. Now it has moved to a situation where the fact that Ilayaraja has scored the music has become the USP of a film.’ He, of course, has Neethane En Pon Vasantham, the Gautham Vasudev Menon film, in mind when he says this.
The film’s title itself is taken from a famed Ilayaraja song. ‘Gautham Menon famously invoked Ilayaraja’s name in Varanam Aayiram when Surya falls in love with Sameera Reddy,’ says Tala Naresh. ‘But that film had music by Harris Jeyaraj, who is one music director who doesn’t need others to invoke him. Because he invokes himself in every song by repeating himself’.
For Neethane En Pon Vasantham, Menon has gone to Ilayaraja in the hope that he gives the kind of tunes that he gave even nondescript names in the 80, which is considered the golden period for Tamil film music based on the incontrovertible evidence that Yuvan Shnakar Raja was not crooning then.
Anyway, one song of Neethane En Pon Vasantham has been, as is the norm these days, ‘officially leaked’. The response to the song has been: 1) Extremely positive. 2) Extremely negative.
The first group comprises, naturally, Ilayaraja fans. The second is, even more obviously, Rahman fans.
The thumb rule is: To be an Ilayaraja fan you have to hate Rahman. And vice-versa. In Tamil Nadu, you cannot be an Ilayaraja or a Rahman fan simultaneously. ‘It is a bit like a person having both male and female organs. Technically possible. But does not seem natural,’ Pandian points out.
On online forums, it’s not uncommon to find Ilayaraja’s fans explain his musical genius thus:
1) ‘Rahman’s does not compose music. His computer does.’
2) ‘Rahman’s takes a lot of time to compose music, so much so that it is technically possible for a child artist chosen to play the younger version of the hero/heroine in a film to also play the grown-up part in the same film’.
3) ‘Rahman’s music to an average fan is like what a moustache maybe for a kindergarten boy — it will need a lot of time before it can grow on him’.
Rahman’s fans, on the other hand, establish the greatness of his music by helpfully pointing out:
1) ‘Ilayaraja’s music does not the suit the tastes of modern youth’, who have grown up listening to the rich strains of, we don’t know, Iman.
2) ‘Ilayaraja has not won the Oscars or the Grammys’
3) ‘Ilayaraja is an egoist’.
The last is a clincher argument among the musical cognoscenti.
Anyway, the exchanges of these two sections in recent times have become very alarming and vocal enough to drown out even the sparring between Narendra Modi supporters and his detractors, who are basically to internet what water is to this earth —- cover more than 70% of the surface area.
With the situation looking threatening, the Home Ministry has now swung into action by issuing a warning to the respective camps of the two music directors on the social media platforms. Though the spokesperson did not spell out what those safety moves will be, the whisper in the official corridors is that some ‘bans’, albeit temporary ones, may be imposed shortly.
And going by the way that the Home Ministry is known to operate in such matters, don’t be surprised if Ilayaraja and Rahman are the ones to be banned.
(Disclaimer: Actually this is a disclosure — I am a fan of S A Rajkumar and Sirpi)