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Why this “Kolaveri Di” is worrying di?

Kolaveri di1

“White skin-u girl-u girl-u – Girl-u heart-u black-u – Eyes-u eyes-u meet-u meet-u – My future dark”. Yes!!! Kolaveri Di is immensely popular that even here downunder in Auckland we saw a Kolaveri flash mob. Why is this song so popular di? Is Kolaveri something we should be proud of di? Can this song be called an evergreen song di? What is worrying about this song di?

One of the most popular songs from the Indian cinema scene this year is the duper hit Kolaveri Di song released on 16 November 2011. This ‘Kolaveri Di’ is so popular that there are several remake versions of in just 2months of its release. It is part of the music to the upcoming Tamil film “3”. It was composed by Anirudh and sung by Tamil cine star Dhanush who recently won the most prestigious national award for acting for his excellent performance in the movie ‘Aadukalam’.

How popular di…

‘Kolaveri di’ was one of the top numbers people danced to, in the parties entering into the New Year. Here are some accolades for Kolaveri Di that surprised us all:-

This song played nationally on all major radio stations in India and Indian radios overseas; 3,00,000 viewers are reported to be watching the song on YouTube everyday; ‘The Song of the year’ 2011 award by CNN; the ‘Recently Most Popular (Gold)’ video in YouTube; by the start of this year 2012, it had crossed 30 million Youtube views; reported by international media like BBC and Time magazine as a song with a universal theme, catchy tune and unique lyrics. The Time magazine said it was a “Nonsensical, Semi-English Music Video Goes Viral in India…The song’s lyrics are practically gibberish, but India can’t stop listening”.

About this song di…

This Tanglish song in Tamil and English is a hit even with non-Tamilians. The lyrics of this song which has got a cult following is about the dejection of an Indian boy whose girlfriend has dumped him. In a feeling of “lovvu-failure” (love failure) as they call it in Tamil Nadu, the boy is drunk and sings ‘Why this Kolaveri di’ asking why she hurt him this way.

About this song the music maestro A.R.Rahman said

“This song is a clutter breaker, and comes once in a while…And this sort of song comes once in a while. People don’t want to comprehend, go deeper, but just enjoy the song. It is something that doesn’t challenge the intellect – and for me, it would be a lighter song like “Aati Kya Khandala”.

Why Kolaveri is worrying di?

‘Kolaveri’ means a ‘rage to murder’. But do the youth know what ‘Kolaveri’ really means? Do they get this rage to murder when they get dumped? Would anybody like their kids to grow up on a song, which talks about ‘a rage to murder’? Yes, it’s just a song. Just because it is popular and people enjoy it, doesn’t have to be mistaken for popular youth culture, especially where there are 540 million people under the age of 25 and nearly 200 million in the age group 15-25 years.

In fact this tune is so catchy that any lyrics could have made the music popular. The song is likable because of the tune and the unusually quirky lyrics. But hardly anybody ponders on the lyrics these days. Just that peppiness, just that monotony breaking tune seems to be doing the trick.

The fact that this song was made popular more by marketing online and social networking even before it was released says this was made a hit.

This is a story of an instant hit due to suave marketing and not because of its lyrical quality.  “The success of Tamil-English number Kolaveri di even before its official launch has proved the power of online social networking platforms” reports the Times of India.

“Ahead of the launch of the single track of the album on November 16, we wanted this song to go viral in cyberspace. We marketed aggressively to make the song a national rage, by posting it on Tamil, Hindi and international Facebook pages, apart from releasing it on YouTube” says Ashok Parwani, associate director, Sony Music Entertainment India. So this was definitely a marketing success and a case of mass hysteria using cyberspace.

The media touted this song as a “youth anthem” which is a typically sensationalizing term used by media. Let’s have 4 more “anthemised” songs like this in the chart busters and the poetic sensibilities would really go for a toss.  The poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar wasn’t too pleased with the song and posted a tweet slamming it saying,

“Kolaveri di. Every one is praising the robes, but the emperor is naked. Tune ordinary, singing sub-standard, words an insult to sensibility.”

While the criticism of Kolaveri di is no kill-joy party-pooper attitude, a critical view point certainly has a place – not as a culture police or moderator but just as a commentator.  Would it promoted or be a hit if the lyrics were about cannibalism or torture? It’s the standpoint which is to be noted and in this case its aesthetic meaning and sensibilities. Dhanush who innocently penned this song  is not a poet or a song writer but is reported to have sung what came to his mind. These types of lyrics detract from good poetry and defy soulful music their evergreen status.

While this song is catchy, it is a bit worrying that it has been reportedly anthemised by the Indian youth nationally. Well, there is a heck of a lot of good things about India for our youth to appreciate and be proud of. Going by some of the lyrics of popular songs in the silver screen these days, the depth and subtlety of human life portrayed  seems to be fading. It is sad that we don’t care about the lyrics of a song anymore.

Clearly, the days of Kalidas, Baana, Tagore and Kannadasan are gone for good. Surely we could have laced our music with the words of these stalwarts if we were short of lyrics. After this song, may be the poets of today might really develop a “Kolaveri” (murderous rage) if they have to appease popular youth culture to create a hit.

‘Ram Lingam blogs on India and Indian culture at‘.

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