So, what’s this Kolaveri di anyway?

Published: December 6, 2011
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What started off as an informal jam session for a movie song turned out to be a viral rage and cult favorite of kinds: Why this Kolaveri di has been trending worldwide on Twitter and has secured millions of hits within just days of being aired.

Songs from South India have always managed to capture the pulse of the people, be it Prabhu Deva’s Urvashi or Aa Ante.

This tanglish (Tamil and English) song, however, is slightly different.

This song came to the fore and soon took over almost everyone’s music players, and the person who managed to pull this off is Rajinikanth’s daughter, Aishwarya, and son-in-law Dhanush.

A lot of music purists would argue that the song is not exceptional enough to warrant such a tremendous response. But it’s not so much about the song as it is about the video.

Folk singer Ila Arun told a leading news channel that when she first heard the song, she wondered why it was such a ‘rage’, but when she saw the video, she couldn’t help – like others- but fall in love with Kolaveri.

So, why does the song work?

Well, for starters, it’s the way the song begins and the fact that Dhanush calls it a “flop song” in the very third line. This leads one to expect that either the singer will make a mockery of himself, or it will be one of those really bad songs that you keep watching because of its sheer stupidity. But in the case of Kolaveri di you are pleasantly surprised.

Twenty seconds into it, and the tune has already got you tapping your feet. And if you don’t have sub-titles or are unfamiliar with the accent, just a few sentences will have you caught onto the lyrics as well. While the rhythm is catchy, the lyrics are simple and identifiable. This song will especially resonate with those who have been recently dumped, as Kolaveri di literally translates to ‘murderous rage’. A lot of similar terms have been introduced to the non-Tamil speaking“soup” – a colloquial Tamil word used for men who go through failure in love. It is these words along with the English in the Tam accent that have worked well for the song. They make it funny, and make you sit up and listen. Absurd and humorous lyrics such as:

“White skin-u-girl-u-girl-u, Girl-u-heart-u-black-u”

have been appreciated by many, who just want to laugh and enjoy a song regardless of what is means. What is very ironic is that while this song may sound upbeat, it is in fact a ‘sad’ song. Moreover, it is Dhanush’s expressions and the way he has sung the song along with the casual way it’s been shot that has made a lot of people take notice. It is quite literally, just a jam session caught on tape, and that’s the beauty of it –  its a no-brainer. As composer Anirudh Ravichander says:

“Aishwarya gave me the situation of a love failure. In five minutes, I had a composition. Then, Dhanush enters, listens to the track and just starts singing. His first line was ‘Why this Kolaveri di?’, which translates into ‘Why do you have such a rage towards me, girl?’ We loved the line and the Tamil-English phrase, and decided to just go ahead with that. There were no lyrics, it was all done impromptu by Dhanush in 25 minutes.”

While Aishwarya has said there will be a female version to the song, I doubt it will do half as well. Whether impromptu or planned, the song proves one thing: regional songs do have a mass appeal.

zoha.tapia

Zoha Tapia

A freelance journalist who lives in Bombay

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.