Tribal folk singer Nanjiyamma won the Best Playback Singer award at the 68th National Film Awards. However, the jury’s choice has led to a divided opinion in the industry. While many criticised her and questioned her singing, some backed Nanjiyamma.
Linu Lal, a famous musician, in a Facebook video, criticised the committee for their choice. He said, “This recognition feels insulting to those who have dedicated their lives to music.’’ Linu said a special award can be given to Nanjiyamma to encourage tribal folk singers. Linu further went on and questioned the skill of tribal folk singer Nanjiyamma.
He said, “The song Kalakkatha was a generational song and Nanjiyamma might have sung it many times. If you tell her to compose a new song and sing it in the studio, she would not be able to sing it normally as we the artists do.” Singer Harish Siva Ramakrishnan joined Linu. He said, “She is not the best singer in India.’’ Harish further said that her song Kalakkatha was excellent in her genre and “she deserved recognition for the song.”
To counter Linu Lal and Harish’s comments, several actors and fans joined director Alphonse Joseph.
Alphonse in his Facebook post wrote, “I stand with Nanjiyamma. I support the National Award team. 100 years of learning cannot deliver what is delivered from the heart. What matters, at last, is what you give from your soul, heart, and mind, ” Alphonse was supported by Lyricist B.K, composer Bijibal, Jakes Bejoy, and various others.
Music composer Bijibal wrote, “What purity in the music! If you want to know the fountain of purity, follow the path of this smile.” Lyricist BK wrote, “The movie Ayyappanum Koshiyum is nothing without Nanjiyamma’s song, voice, and music.’’ Jakes Bejoy said, “Cannot even debate on this topic.’’
For the unversed, Nanjiyamma is a folk singer. She sings generational folk songs. Folk singer Nanjiyamma has sung for a documentary, Mathrumozhi titled Aggedu Nayaga directed by Sindhu Sajan.