Why Malayalam music video Raven is highly political

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A still from the video
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A Malayalam music video questioning discrimination faced by the marginalised sections of society on the basis of one's appearance is creating ripples on the web world.

Raven, written and directed by Adarsh Kumar Aniyal, is hailed for the clarity and conviction with which it questions the racist mentality of the power structures that judge people based on their complexion and looks.

The video, featuring Ambujakshan in the lead role, narrates the angst of a father about his missing son. Ambujakshan is the father of Adarsh.

The video in the form of a monologue describes the missing boy as someone who had long coloured hair and liked to wear black shirts. The references easily bring to one's memory Vinayakan, a Dalit teenager, who committed suicide after allegedly subjected to severe mental and physical torture in Pavaratty Police Station in July last 2017.

“The death of Vinayakan and Kevin Joseph (a victim of honour killing in Kerala) was obviously my provocation to do the work,” Adarsh told Onmanorama. Adarsh, a graduate in English literature, has been writing and directing dramas for children, for several years. Of late, he has also been working as an assistant director in Malayalam cinema. 'Raven' is his first work to be released online. His first work, a video album on a poem by himself, is yet to be released.

Adarsh wrote Raven first as a poem and later made it into a video. The music was composed after editing the video. “I wanted the music to be in sync with the tone and voice modulation of my father,” Adarsh said.

Asked about casting his father, Adarsh said Ambujakshan was initially reluctant to act. “I was adamant that he should perform in the video. I made him grow hair and beard for the album,” he said. Ambujakshan has been receiving accolades for the performance ever since the video was released on YouTube a week ago.

The imageries Adarsh has used in Raven are as powerful as his choice of the subject. The title itself is a brilliant wordplay. Raven could be read in two ways. It could be the black bird or a varied spelling of the mythological Asura king Ravan. Recently, there has been several studies reinventing the Asuras in Hindu mythology as the native Dravidas.

Adarsh makes his politics evident with the use of bringing into the frames Dalit icons and social reformers Dr Ambedkar and Ayyankali .

Adarsh acknowledged that he was inspired by the album Native Bapa, released in 2013. Native Bapa was directed by Muhsin Parari who later directed the critically acclaimed film 'KL 10 Pathu' and co-wrote the scripts of 'Sudani From Nigeria' and 'Virus'.

Adarsh has also completed the script for a feature film.

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