Opinion

Let’s do the Dappan!

Zan Azlee

Zan Azlee is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, New Media practitioner and lecturer. He runs Fat Bidin Media www.fatbidin.com

NOV 9 — So, there’s this video from Petronas to celebrate the coming Deepavali celebrations. And we all know what suckers Malaysians are for festival messages from Petronas.

It’s called “Do the Dappan”, and yes, it’s all about the Indian dance called the “dappan”. If you haven’t seen it, then you have to. Check it out below:

Now Petronas has actually taken it down from its official YouTube channel. Why you may ask? Well, it’s because people have no sense of humour.

The entire Malaysian society has become this one serious society that is oversensitive and takes things too literally.

The video is just about a group of Indians dancing the dappan all around town and having fun while getting people of all races to dance with them.

It’s quite funny since it’s obviously a parody of the popular Gangnam style videos and that silly Tamil Michael Jackson Thriller video. (Okay lah, it’s not that funny!)

As soon as the video was released on YouTube, it received more dislikes than likes and numerous complaints and critiques.

Apparently, a lot of people were offended by the video, claiming that it misrepresented the Indian culture and that they do not celebrate Deepavali like that.

Look, obviously people do not celebrate Deepavali by dancing in the streets and stopping traffic (with everything nicely choreographed too!).

There are a few terms such as comedy, satire, humour and parody that I think Malaysians do not have in their vocabulary.

Why do they have to look at the negatives all the time? The spirit of the video is to show that a celebration of a particular ethnic group can actually be enjoyed by all.

I guess these same people believe that Deepavali isn’t a time to have fun and that celebrating it in a fun way with different people is just offensive.

Let me tell you one thing. I’m a Muslim but I have Indian Hindu relatives and also friends. And I celebrate Deepavali with them all the time. Never in all of these times has Deepavali not been fun.

I would be at my Uncle Ramesh and Aunty Pauline’s house and the entire family would all be chatting and laughing the day away.

I would be at my friend Deva’s (an honest-to-god Hindu priest complete with a white thread around his waist) house and we would be laughing hysterically as we make up racist jokes while tucking into his mother’s excellent briyani.

Then again, people can say that I’m Muslim and have no right to comment on this issue. But I’m just stating my observations here.

I for one am definitely going to enjoy this Deepavali with my friends and family as I have always done as far back as I can remember.

And, before I get inundated with comments saying that the dappan is a funeral dance, is it not true that the particular “Saavu Adi Dappan” beat is more commonly used to express joy?

And, is it not true that the Hindu deity Lord Mahadeshwara enjoys the dappan so much that he is said to be happiest when his believers dance for him?

So to all “uncles, aunties, machas and thambis”, have a Happy Deepavali!

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

Comments