The renown South Indian playback singer S.P. Balasubrahmanyam (SPB) passed away after fighting against COVID-19 diagnosis on Friday 25th September 2020 at the age of 74. S.P. Balasubrahmanyam has sung more than 40 000 songs in various genres, spanning over 16 languages including Tamil, Kannada, Hindi, and Malayalam. This makes him a Guinness World Record holder for recording the highest number of songs. India is a multi-language and multi-ethnical country that consists of around 120 languages and many other dialects. In the career of 50 years of SPB, music became his mother tongue that contributed to brake many barriers and create bridges beyond region, religion, language and ethnicity. That includes SPB in Eelam songs. It is noteworthy to mention that his first musical performance in Jaffna (northern Sri Lanka) took place in 2016.
TamilNet.com, a non-profit Tamil news agency, recorded an audio memoir of the Tamil Nadu (India) based artist, Pugazhenthi, that remembers SPB´s Eelam songs. Artist Pugazhenthi tells about the assignment he received from the de facto state of Tamil Eelam. It was an assignment to produce Eelam songs in the genre of Tamil freedom struggle, in collaboration with Tamil Eelam lyricists and Tamil Nadu cinema industry lyricists and playback singers, including SPB. Pugazhenthi was assigned to produce three audio CDs in 2007. He took contact with SPB through poet Pulamaipittan. This collaboration assignment is a historical expression of humble involvement and respect for the talent and personalities in Tamil Nadu. On the other hand, it also shows the historical understanding, involvement, care and empathy of SPB and his humble personality and respect to the de facto state of Tamil Eelam.
This audio memoir is also telling about children musical television show, “என்னோடு பாட்டுப் பாடுங்கள்” (sing song with me) by SPB on Jeya Television in Tamil Nadu. The recording of these shows was used as a mentor for singers and musicians in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. This is another example of how the de facto-state of Tamil Eelam consciously worked for the development of Tamil art and culture, and not only warfare, regardless of a limited resource, inside and outside Eelam.
The audio recording was published in a news article, “South Asia mourns SPB’s demise“, at TamilNet on 25th September 2020. This is a record in both text and audio format created in the editorial activities of the TamilNet organisation. This record will be a historical archival material of this particular organisation about remembering the historical event of musical collaboration between Tamil Eelam and Tamil Nadu in 2007. The original historical evidence for retelling and remembering the collaboration activity will be the materials produced at the time of this activity that took place in Tamil Nadu in 2007.
SPB´s Eelam songs:
Title: “உலக மனிதம் தலைகள் நிமிரும்” (ulaga manitham thalaikal nimirum, meaning humanity of the world will raise) CD: எங்களின் கடல் (meaning our sea) Lyricist: K. Veera Music composer: Theivendiran Year: 2007 Place of production of the song: Tamil Nadu, India
Title: “அனுராத புறத்திற்கு நடக்கிறோம்” (walking to Anurathapuram) Movie: எல்லாளன் (Ellalan is a Tamil Eelam movie production in the genre of war films. The name Ellalan is after the Tamil king who ruled the Anuradhapura Kingdom in the ancient time) Lyricist: Music composer: Theivendiran Year: 2007 Place of production of the song: Tamil Nadu, India Place of production of Ellalan movie: Tamil Eelam Watch the Ellalan movie
Title: “வானத்தில் ஏறிய” (climbing to the sky) Movie: எல்லாளன் (Ellalan) Lyricist: Puthuvai Ratinathurai Music composer: Theivendiran Year: 2007 Place of production of the song: Tamil Nadu, India Place of production of Ellalan movie: Tamil Eelam
Title: “தாயக மண்ணே” (soil of motherland) Movie: எல்லாளன் (Ellalan) Lyricist: Music composer: Theivendiran Place of production of the song: Tamil Nadu, India Place of production of Ellalan movie: Tamil Eelam Year: 2007
Title: CD: களத்தில் கேட்கும் கானங்கள் Lyricist: Music composer: Theivendiran Year: 2007 Place of production of the song: Tamil Nadu, India
Eelam production does not necessarily need to indicate production related to the liberation struggle of Eelam Tamils. Eelam based text, audio / visual and screen production or the diaspora Eelam Tamil based production can be classified as Eelam Tamil production. This article focuses on Eelam production that is audio songs, music videos, short films, feature films, television series/ shows, and other entertainment media productions. This kind of Eelam production can then be categorised according to its media. For example Eelam songs (audio songs/music video). It can then be divided into various under categories such as warfare/ heroism and love. Such divisions are called “genre” in English.
Eelam songs in the form of sound and video are scattered all over the internet on many websites and social media. For this article, DsporA Tamil Archive searched the internet for Eelam songs sung by SPB. They are available for public access on the internet, but they are without information that tells their origin, purpose and context. We, therefore, request to all Tamil music, screen and other media platforms collect, categorise, index, preserve and give the public access to Eelam production.
For example, categorize and list Eelam songs with the following information: Song genre/ media Song title Songwriter Singers Music composer Released on any CD / Movie The name of the CD / Movie Year of production Place of production The context in which this product was originated digital picture of front cover and back cover of the released CD / DVD
It is essential to preserve the original physical document even if it is digitalised. Giving access to the digital version of a media production at social media is the activity of dissemination and not preservation!
The purpose is to preserve, classify, index, and make public access to the origin, purpose, and context of Eelam productions (under the various genres). Thus the basic function is to transmit the Tamil language, art, culture and historical heritage to the contemporary and future generations of Tamils and other ethnic groups. This is what documentation and archiving are all about!
This article cites IBC Tamil, Tamil Guardian, TamilNet and the website of the Ilankai Tamil Sangam (Sri Lankan Tamil association). It is essential that these digital media platforms be preserved. For example, the article and the soundtrack about SPB produced by TamilNet are at the moment for public access at their website. This record reflects the historical event of musical collaboration between the two Tamil regions in 2007 and the impact it has had on diaspora Tamils. It is necessary to create a preservation plan for this website which contains historical records that reflect the distant relationship and contact across worldwide Tamils. Tamil media based in each country should develop a plan to preserve their media productions in their country of residence. The purpose of preservation is to make it accessible to the public. That is how history will pass on to the next generation.
TamilNet.com is a non-profit news agency. It started as an email mailing list in September 1995 that evolved as a website, launched in June 1997. The website of Ilankai Tamil Sangam was launched in the USA on 18th December 1996. It was the original website of the Tamil association in the USA. As far as is known, based on the work of searching for the history of the diaspora Tamils, no earlier attempts have yet been identified.
The current editor of the Ilankai Tamil Sangam website told the start purpose of the website as followed in the email communication: “At the time the website was founded, it was the only Eelam Tamil diaspora website, so the original editor felt an obligation to make public historical material otherwise unavailable. This is the basis of the Factbook on the original version of the website – https://www.sangam.org/Factbook.htm” On the other hand, TamilNet.com was launched as a news agency in the English language to bring Tamil affairs in Eelam to the International Community, which otherwise was restricted, filtered, abandoned and hidden by the Sri Lankan government, said the founder of TamilNet.
Disclaimer: Due to the lack of or fragmented archives or limited access to archives in Tamil society, it has been challenging to get access to available sources that can support oral history interviews. In this situation, writing about diaspora Tamil history will be a dynamic process that may change its shape and be updated over time. Thus, we welcome the public to provide feedback with any verifiable sources in the case of need for correction in the factual information on this website.