RR Srinivasan is an Indian photographer, film society activist, environmental activist, writer, and editor who has been actively involved in the film appreciation movement in Tamil Nadu through societies and alternative film journals. He emerged from the Kanchanai film society in Thirunelveli, which has played a key role in bringing serious cinema to the non-metropolitan audience. He has directed and produced several documentary movies on social issues, including 28 documentary films on folk art traditions in Tamil Nadu. His photographs have been exhibited in several exhibitions in India. He has to his credit a photobook on Narikuravas, a nomadic tribe in India.
His most significant role is as an activist – he raises his voice and resistance to every unfair act that affects the subaltern. Photography that way is a tool for him – not only to resist but also to highlight the lifestyles, rituals, and customs of the indigenous populations. He is one of the earliest photographers from Tamil Nadu to document the Tribal communities. His huge archive of photographs has an interesting collection of this region’s people and their lifestyle – much before homogenization and globalization started erasing our native footprints.
RR Srinivasan’s photographic works titled Masi Maham, the moon festival of five elements is a popular one. Irular, one of the primitive tribes of India, celebrates the Masi Maham festival on the seashore at Mamallapuram near Chennai in Tamil Nadu. The festival happens on the full moon day that aligns with the Magha star in the month of Masi as per the Tamil calendar (usually in March). The Irulars celebrate the festival in memory of their god Kanni Amman. They believe that Kanni Amman got angry with people, left their villages, and came to the seashore. During the festival, the tribals assemble at the shore and pray to Kanni Amman so that the god will return to their villages. RR has been following this festival for over 15 years. Masi Maham festival has a deep-rooted history going back several centuries. Their association with the coastal port town of Mamallapuram can be dated back to the pre-Pallava period before the seventh century CE.
Katre Vaa is another body of work that captures the essence of the Tamil lifestyle in vibrant colors.