I am in a proper kolaveri about the way my story on the kolaveri song in the BBC has been mutilated – that staccato tone is just not my writing style. I have had journalist friends advising me to stop being possessive about my story once it has gone out of my hands into the editors… Anyway, so what is all the rage about the kolaveri song? Read on for my original piece which reveals the secret: great marketing! If you insist and want to read the published version, then head on here – but ideally, read what follows
The Killer Rage song becomes all the rage
Anirudh Ravichander is possibly the happiest 21 year-old on the planet today. The fresh graduate from Loyola College in Chennai has set music to his first Tamil movie, 3, directed by Superstar Rajinikanth’s daughter, Aishwarya Dhanush. And one of the songs Kolaveri (meaning ‘killer rage’) has gone to become a chartbuster within days of its release, and is now the most searched Tamil video on YouTube (2 million views so far). It was written, goes the story, during a break in recording when actor Dhanush hummed the song to which he wrote the lyrics himself.
Anirudh’s smile is palpable across the phone; “I am very thrilled but am trying to keep myself rooted to the ground because there are nine more songs from the movie to come,” he says, adding, “We all expected it to be a hit but not the kind of international rage that it has become today.”
The first promotion of the song was released on 16th November and within a week has gone on to a top spot in the international music charts. It has been trending on twitter and facebook (over 700,000 shares) and already has a Wikipedia entry! In short, “Kolaveri” seems all set to become part of youth-speak in the country. And all this in a time when events of greater social and cultural significance have been keeping the country fascinated, such as the arrival of Baby Bacchan and the life story of soft porn star Silk Smitha (in the movie ‘The Dirty Picture’).
So what is it about Kolaveri that has made it that kind of a success that even non Tamil speakers are humming it non-stop? Anirudh explains it as, “It is a fun song with lyrics and music to match. It never occurred to us while shooting the song but the fact is that it has no language barriers.”
Shridhar Subramaniam, MD of Sony Music Entertainment India, has a word for this song: “genre-bending”. He says, “I cannot exactly define what makes it work, but it gets under your skin, gets into your head and the moment you hear it, you cannot stop humming it.” True: it is a song about an achy-breaky heart in simple, somewhat nonsensical words, in a unique language that can only be called Tamglish. Take for example, “empty lifeu, Girlu comeu, life reverse gearu” but when the same girl dumps him, then it is “Eyesu eyesu meetu meetu, my future darku.” And the tune is also easy and catchy, perfect for everyone with or without musical talent of any sort. The song also seems to be in sync with Dhanush’s own personality and image as a down-to-earth star.
It seems to be not just the young who are enjoying this song. As Shobha Prasad, director of a market research company in Mumbai and mother of a teenager says, “It is chilled out, spontaneous, irreverent, has attitude and quintessential Tamil street humour. The music is great as it plays up the mood of the piece.”
According to Shridhar, it is not just about the music, it is also about the marketing. It was a cleverly planned effort to push the song “to make it gain momentum” on social networking websites, starting with South India and slowly moving to the rest of the country and now the larger world. In his words, “it is a combination of a great product combined with good marketing.” The film itself has great expectations from viewers since it brings together the daughters of friends and one-time rivals Rajinikanth (his daughter Aishwarya is the director) and Kamal Hassan, whose daughter Shruti Hassan is acting in the film. Not to mention high expectations for the other songs, a thought that is keeping Anirudh on his toes, “enjoying the high for now.”
For now, it is best that you too just enjoy the lightu lightu mood of the song and hum along.