The Kolaveri Phenomenon (-1)

The Indian social media is abuzz with the unexpected blockbuster success of the song “Why this Kolaveri di,” (roughly translates to “Why this bloodthirst, woman?“, although Tamil language purists would argue that “di” is a derogatory epithet used to address women). The song was released as a single to promote the upcoming Tamil language movie “3”. It quickly became an unfathomable YouTube sensation, with the Twitterati, Facebookers and the news channels adding fuel to the fire. The video has notched up almost 4 million views in a span of hardly 4 days, which by itself is an unheard-of phenomenon. In a country where the Mumbai-based Hindi film industry (termed “Bollywood”) is the self-appointed ambassador for the whole of Indian films, that a Tamil-language song (from the Indian “Down Under,” aka South India) has caught the fascination of Indian youth is something refreshing. For those who do not know any other Indian actors than the Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, Indian films are made in diverse Indian languages apart from Hindi. All the four South Indian states have their own movie industries, where Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada language movies are religiously churned out every week. So are Bengali, Marathi, Assamese, Bhojpuri and Gujarati language films. Mind boggling, I know.

When I heard the song the first time, I started breaking into giggles, due to the sheer “nonsensicality” of the lyrics and tune. It is written and sung by the actor Dhanush, who is also the son-in-law of the reigning Superstar of Tamil cinema, Rajinikanth. The song is  about his love failure (he terms it as “soup song”). He proceeds to pours out his angst against his girl (who has probably rejected his advances) in broken Tamil-accented English. Dhanush is neither a professionally trained singer nor a lyricist. So the song is basically a “common-man” song, with no strenuous singing required, which by itself must have scored with the masses. He takes digs at his unrequited love (played by Shruthi Hassan) in the movie, questioning her how she sleeps well at night while he wallows in sorrow at his love failure, in his unique “English” style.

Bottomline: A funny song in broken English, with heavy Tamil accent included. That about sums up the song.

So why the hoopla? The furore started when the widely respected “The Hindu” newspaper carried the phenomenon of the Kolaveri song as front-page news a couple of days back. Some readers were disgusted, some amused and some (including me) frankly did not care. Questions were raised regarding the integrity of the newspaper (it was a “Serious” newspaper, read by the “intellectual” crowd, as some holier-than-thou readers pointed out) and, according to them, putting cinema news in the front page, that too about a song with alleged misogynist undertones, was tantamount to blasphemy. This contributed to the song becoming even more notorious and famous. Now apparently the whole of India is “tuned” to the song, breaking language and North-South barriers.

My take on the subject? Not the whole of India. My mom hates the song (she is a trained classical singer) and cannot stand it. Count one person less. I think she will wholeheartedly agree on this point.

P.S. You can listen to the song here. Don’t blame me if you get addicted to the song. Most probably you won’t, but recent experiences have made me extra-cautious regarding “disclaimers”.  So there.


18 thoughts on “The Kolaveri Phenomenon (-1)

  1. I’d fall in the I-don’t-care category as well, but leaning towards the this-sucks group. As you mention, the fact that he isn’t a singer by any stretch of imagination is his USP. When a majority of the ‘masses’ are not equipped to appreciate an art-form, they gravitate towards fellow ignorants who become (in)famous, the viral way.

    …which explains why Chetan Bhagat is such a game. Which explains why an Atif Aslam & hat-man Himesh Reshammiya are in great demand compared to a Sonu Nigam (who the masses claim is an ‘arrogant b*****d’)…which explains why that genius ARR received an Oscar for a song that few believe deserved the honour.

    Well summed up. Enjoyed reading. 🙂

    PS: Thank you for the nomination for the Versatile Blogger award.

    • Sadly we are a society that celebrates mediocracy, which amounts to idiocracy, but obviously majority wins:(
      P.S. I could go on and on and on about Chetan Bhagat, but I probably won’t. I don’t even want to comment about him. Hate is too mild a word. Same goes for the nasally challenged singer and hosts of other mediocre people who have become famous, and automatically certified “genuises”. I see red!
      And congratulations on becoming a Versatile Blogger:)

  2. i watched and enjoyed a film in Tamil the other day (“A Peck on the Cheek” is it’s English title). Mani Ratnam made it. Things have calmed down in the area since it was made.


  3. Actually I listened to it on another blog and quite liked the playful nature of the song. Since I don’t speak the language, I had no idea there were misogynistic under/overtones to the song…
    Oh well, too late now to change my comment on the other blog… I went with my heart and I still like it; especially that catchy refrain Why this kolaveri kolaveri kolaveri di… 🙂

  4. believe me, i would not get addicted to this song…i really think most “pop” music from any culture is mostly a lot of soul-less notes about nothing masquerading as music. but that’s just me and i did enjoy the read. continue…

  5. Pingback: Happiness: The Beauty of Simplicity… | Mirth and Motivation

  6. Thanks for the interesting post! Appreciate the link to the song — sounds like auto-tuning going on — not very complex song and pretty repetitive — seems somewhat forgettable — but no worse than many modern songs.

  7. enjoyed reading this.
    i have been hearing kolaveri this kolaveri that –
    it has become part of daily conversation here
    but i have never bothered listening to,
    “When I heard the song the first time, I started breaking into giggles,
    due to the sheer “nonsensicality” of the lyrics and tune.”
    now i cannot ignore it anymore 🙂

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