Dhanush’s ‘Kolaveri Di’ sensation

Maybe it’s the absurd lyrics, maybe it’s the minimalist video with its behind-the-music feel, or maybe it’s the carefree way Tamil superstar Dhanush grins and giggles throughout the track, but whatever the reason ‘Why This Kolaveri Di’ has become an internet sensation.

Planned as part of the soundtrack to the Indian film 3, its popularity has surprised the artist and fans alike. Within just two weeks of uploading, the video went viral with 18 million YouTube views, 3.6 million Facebook shares and trending the tag #Kolveri on Twitter. Two months later and the video has reached over 35 million YouTube hits and climbing.

Dhanush revealed, “It feels nice when people are open with their praise for your work. I honestly didn’t think the song would be such a craze. This has made me realise that people universally want only simple lyrics and simpler tune from filmmakers. My poor broken English lyrics, written in a silly tone, and borderline singing has proved to be advantageous for the success of this song.”

As is to be expected of any YouTube hit, the videos responses have already piled up with users creating their own remixes and versions of the song. Even renowned Bollywood playback singer Sonu Nigam’s four year old son has made his own viral which has already notched up over 5 million hits.

The lyrics – in a combination of English and Tamil called Tanglish or Tamglish – are suppose to be the drunk musings of a boy who’s been recently dumped.

Kolaveri di means ‘a murderous rage’ in Tamil, but is often used as a slang by Tamil youth. In this song, “why this kolaveri di” means “why do you have this rage against me,” implying that he is addressing the woman who left him.

You might also find yourself asking what a “soup song” or “soup boys” are. The song’s composer Anirudh says, “Soup is a Tamil word used for guys who go through failure in love. Words like these are used by young guys in real life but in a song, we were introducing them. And these words have worked well for Kolaveri Di.”

The video’s internet fame is made even more impressive by the fact that it is the first regional language song ever to see such popularity in the mainstream music channels, having been played on at least 43 radio stations across India and gaining an international audience.

What does this mean for the future of regional language tracks? Shridhar Subramaniam, President of Sony India and the driving force behind the viral rage, says, “There is a change in the music landscape that we all are witnessing today. Regional music has huge acceptability – growing at the rate of 20% per annum and regional advertisements are becoming national and today the success of our song ‘Why this Kolaveri Di’ is an endorsement to this phenomena.”

This article originally appeared in SONGLINES.


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