The Marakkuma Nenjam concert, featuring the legendary musician AR Rahman, seemed poised to be an unforgettable night for fans who traveled far and wide to attend the event in Chennai. However, for several women who attended this event, it quickly transformed into a nightmare, marked by incidents of groping and molestation, shining a harsh spotlight on the woefully inadequate crowd management and security measures in place.
Before proceeding, please be aware of the following (TRIGGER WARNING: Descriptions of sexual violence)
The Quint interviewed several women who attended the concert, each sharing their personal stories of trauma and outrage. One of them, a 31-year-old independent filmmaker, recounted her horrifying experience,
In a report by The Quint, one woman who attended the concert shared her distressing ordeal. She chronicled how the fans, who had come to celebrate the music, were instead taken for granted, subjected to mistreatment, and, in some cases, even scammed.
Woke up to having such a weight in my heart.The unsafe feeling i have today is haunting me. One of the people who groped me,literally looked into my eyes when I just asked him for the way and move.— Charulatha Rangarajan (@charuturfo) September 11, 2023
I'm exhausted.#marakumanenjam#ARRConcert@actcevents @arrahman pic.twitter.com/58SXFOP5kJ
The concert, held at Chennai's Adityaram Palace City on September 10, drew a staggering crowd of over 45,000 people.
However, the most distressing part of this woman's account were the two incidents of groping she endured during the concert. Her encounter portrayed the overwhelming anxiety and trauma she experienced that night. In her own words, she conveyed that she had never felt so unsafe in Chennai, a city that she calls home.
The realisation of molestation has Stricken and I feel extremely disgusted, to know that a lot of women went through that too is haunting me. Never have I felt so unsafe in Chennai! Thanks for ruining that for me ! #marakkumanenja #ARRahmanConcert @actcevents @arrahman— Charulatha Rangarajan (@charuturfo) September 10, 2023
She directly addressed Rahman himself, imploring him to take accountability for the grave situation that had transpired and asserting that it was not acceptable for such a renowned artist to remain indifferent to the issues of overcrowding, stampedes, and molestation that marred his concert; demanding justice for those who had suffered.
Kadaisi vara APOLOGY & condemnation of @actcevents varadhu. Atleast he is taking accountability.But I don't have the heart to be okay with this half baked apology or whatever this is sir. I held you in my highest regard. Onnum solrathukilla.#marakumanenjam @actcevents @arrahman https://t.co/84d2R36xZY— Charulatha Rangarajan (@charuturfo) September 11, 2023
What made it all so much worse was the realisation that she was not alone; many other women had undergone similarly distressing experiences that night.
A 22-year-old lawyer from Chennai, who had graduated from college just months prior, recalled how she and her mother were trying to exit the venue but found themselves in a suffocating sea of people.
A common thread that tied their stories together was the lack of support or assistance from event organisers or security personnel. The 31-year-old filmmaker, who was also groped, revealed that in order to avoid a panic attack, she had to close her eyes and focus on the music.
This might end up in spam but I just had to. And with this I'm going to be off Twitter for a while, Not only am I being victim shamed, Called a clout chaser & everything demeaning. I need my mental peace. So,to people struggling, sending you strength & love. #MarakkumaNenjam pic.twitter.com/f6HzbaipSo— Charulatha Rangarajan (@charuturfo) September 12, 2023
The trauma extended beyond the concertgoers themselves. A 45-year-old woman, who had attended the concert with her daughter, spoke of the lasting impact this event had on her family. She recounted how her daughter, who had hoped for a memorable evening enjoying their favourite musician, was instead left traumatised.
#ARRahman— Kamya Menon (@water_menon) September 10, 2023
AR Rahman's concert tonight was the most traumatic event I've ever been to.THOUSANDS of people WITH tickets were being sent out, not allowed to enter because thousands of TICKETS WERE OVERSOLD. There was nobody to direct anyone,the ticket booth was abandoned. pic.twitter.com/dgZ9mmiCbt
These women, like many others, had chosen to attend the concert as ardent fans of Rahman. They had eagerly anticipated witnessing his musical magic, but what they encountered was far from magical. Instead, they were left physically and emotionally traumatised, wondering why their love for an artist had resulted in such a devastating experience.
To the #ARRahman fans who are posting hurtful comments. Kindly, tell me who is a bigger fan/Kanni than me.— Charulatha Rangarajan (@charuturfo) September 11, 2023
But if something is wrong,it's wrong.All we wanted was him to condemn @actcevents and an apology for the nightmare.Hate me all you want,I won't shut up.#MarakkumaNenjam https://t.co/f6Z84pse7P
Rahman is yet to issue a comprehensive apology over the matter, having already posted a cryptic attempt at acknowledging the incident over social media.