I have composed the score to the film “Stories of Kannagi” Directed by Zanny Begg, which is the receiprient of the Blake Prize 2021
“Kannagi begins as an ordinary woman; well not that ordinary, and then transforms into a goddess of justice!”- Advertisement –
So says Bulli-based artist filmmaker Zanny Begg, whose video Stories of Kannagi has been nominated for the Blake Prize, an art prize that engages artists creating works about spirituality, religion, and justice (or their lack thereof).
“It’s about the central female character Kannagi, who is known to be a chaste and docile woman for a long time, but when she is confronted with injustice, she transforms into a fiery character who delivers a strong speech to the king,” Zanny told Indian Link. “Her speech is so powerful that the king gives up his power and the city is consumed in flames.”
Kannagi is the protagonist in a 2000-year-old Tamil epic called Silappathikaram meaning ‘the tale of an anklet’ in Tamil. A classic, it is taught in local language schools as part of the Tamil curriculum in Australia.
There are Kannagi temples all over southern India and Sri Lanka to this day. Devotees visit these temples to ask for divine intervention when faced with problems.
“In Sri Lanka, it took on another angle. In 2009, at the end of the war, the UN had departed and there were no external witnesses. So, people believed that Kannagi was the sole witness to the war and will give them justice and to the people who are still missing,” Jiva Parthipan explained.
The music in the film was created by local composer James Brown in collaboration with Srisha Sritharan, a Sydney-based poet who lent her voice to the composition.
Being named as a finalist for the Blake Art Prize was moment of great pride for Zanny.
“I’m just proud of the whole team. I feel like the story has this incredible spiritual dimension and looks at justice, exile, and colonialism through the prism of stories, culture, and spirituality. Feels lovely that there’s that kind of recognition for this project. I feel like I got to know the Sri Lankan Tamil community in Sydney more and I’m so grateful to Jiva for asking to me to come onboard,” she remarked.