Spotlight: Issai Mazhalai – the youth revolution

K.S. Kalidas

Issai Mazhalai was launched this month a decade ago.

 The man is a bundle of energy. He is unconventional, thinks on his feet, takes quick-fire decisions and is ideadriven; some of his ideas are convention turned on its head. He is also computer-savvy, fun-loving, generous to a fault and, what is more, he relates to people across generations. He is none other than ‘Abaswaram’ Ramjhi, the man behind Issai Mazhalai.

Why did Ramjhi call his group Issai Mazhalai? Mazhalai is the Tamil word for baby talk or prattle. The idea behind the name is that it is a group of children (sub-adults to be exact) engaged in the performance of music. ‘Issai’ for the obvious ‘Isai’ (meaning music) is Ramjhi’s maverick spelling! Numerology? We do not know. Again, the kids are not always kids. The youngest is around five and the oldest is 21! We do not associate a twenty-one-year old with ‘mazhalai’ but this is about the outer age limit, as around this time, they are retired from the troupe. Many are musically mature enough to satisfy a connoisseur with chaste fare. As they grow older and gain experience, their music only improves… read more