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Very Very Kolaveri!

Very Very Kolaveri!

November 25, 2011

There are currently two kinds of Indians. Those who have heard ‘Kolaveri’ and those who haven’t. Which one are you?

I had face-un-booked myself last week but when I couldn’t abstain any more, I jumped right back into my account, and came across a link shared by a couple of blogger friends. The title was ‘kolaveri’ and I opened it with very low expectations, as I am not that big a fan of Dhanush. But guess what? We have been listening to this crazy, silly song (in loop!) for the last three days, with even my 5-year old singing it. I definitely did not see that coming!

First, click HERE to view the song on Youtube.

Second, tell me what you thought of it?

A small section of the audience have expressed undisguised disgust at the song - for its poor lyrics, colloquial language, etc - and simply don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

Okay, I’m not ashamed to say I loved ‘Kolaveri’. It is perhaps one of the worst songs ever, but it certainly is the most played song on my phone. It gets dangerous at times, though. Like yesterday, I was on the phone with my son’s school teacher, and there was this line ‘Cow-u cow-u ... holy cow-u’ blasting away in the background. Ahem...I might need to look for a new school soon.

But hey, what makes a song/film a hit? I watched a Hindi film called ‘Dhobi Ghat’ the other day, and loved it. It was serious, sensible and left an impression (not to mention stellar performances by Aamir Khan, Monica Dogra and cute Prateik Babbar). Now Ra One, in comparison made absolutely no sense whatsoever. However, as you might have already guessed, while Dhobi Ghat was a below-average-box-office-hit, Ra One despite not being critically acclaimed, was supposedly a ‘hit’ in India and a ‘superhit’ overseas (so sayeth the great Wiki!)

So what makes something like ‘Kolaveri’ a global hit? The video has apparently grossed 3 million views on Youtube, and more than 8 million shares on FB.

Well, to me, it is very simply, what I can connect with.

Kolaveri is a song that EVEN I can sing. Take any aspect of it...words/tune/ is all so colloquial that even a layman can understand every nuance of the song and totally identify with it. To give a background, this is supposedly a light-hearted song sung by a young boy who has been jilted in love. Ah! What better reach to an audience than an average loser being dumped by a hot (and fair-skinned) girl. The lyrics are very simple. One need not break his/her head to understand the meaning of ‘white-skinu-girl, girl heartu-black.. eyes-u eyes-u meetu meetu, my future darku’. As for the tune, I loved it. The background score is fresh, and very cleverly infuses a trace of folk music into a trendy beat, making it a peppy number. Add to that an immensely talented bunch of young stars (Dhanush, Aishwarya Rajnikanth and Shruthi Hassan) that are evidently enjoying the foot-tapping number even during the recording, and one finds it hard to not like this song.

More importantly, the world-wide success of this song (the latest video on FB is a group of Chinese dancers choreographing a routine to Kolaveri) has made me realise one thing. While perfection is great, being ‘real’ is far more attractive. Something that is technically perfect and outstanding, may not really be something I can relate to. For example, I simply do not enjoy authors who use ‘big words’. Blame it on my limited vocabulary, but I’d rather go for something simple, that I can enjoy.

I suppose this is the reason why authors like Chetan Bhagat are so popular. (Allow me to hastily clarify that I am NOT a fan of his!). I now understand why Bhagat, despite being far from the best writer around, has certain mass appeal. Another example would be the runaway hit programme Kaun Banega Crorepathi. The programme is not merely about ‘knowledge’ or ‘trivia’ but about the fact that an ORDINARY man or woman, like you or me, actually stands a chance at something so magnificent. It is also why chick-lit (I truly find the term demeaning) is extremely popular, despite scoring low on the literary count.

One could argue that art that is too colloquial actually lowers standards. That is true to a certain extent. But don’t our standards change as we evolve as a society?
Modern art, chick-lit, colloquial songs like DK Bose and Kolaveri for example. These too, are a part of our culture now. While at one time, classical dance forms was what India was famous for, today Bollywood dance is a dance form by itself, and has many takers around the world.

These new, simplified forms of art, may or may not be the best. They may not be perfect. However, they are accessible to you and me.

The success of art, therefore is based on the ability of viewers to connect with it. So as times change, our standards change to an extent too.

As I see it, ‘perfection’ itself is over-rated. Anything less than perfect is not so bad after all. Kolaveri is far from being perfect. And therein lies its appeal.

So, my dear soup-u – boys-u and girls-u, now-u you tell-u me, ‘why this kolaveri?’ 


  • Lalit
    14.02.12 08:23 PM
    i like this song
  • Tanu
    04.02.12 03:36 PM
    Hii...loved the post....

    We were asked in our Marketing class, after being shown kolaveri, which I had spread in hostel anyways...shud have seen the excitement for the class, cuz we knew we were about to be shown something we had seen .............god knows MANY times,...yet the enthu?
    definitely not a fad!!!

    My hand was raised high up for the reasons....yes ANYONE cud sing it....

    The other day our local dhobi gang was singing it, see????

    i loved dhobi ghat too,,,, n totally loved ur post...felt like, i had wrote it!!
    16.01.12 09:12 PM
    gr8 song!
  • veer gill
    veer gill
    16.12.11 06:42 PM
    i love this song!Danush thanx for you!
  • Rakesh yadav
    Rakesh yadav
    13.12.11 03:20 AM
    Here all have listen the lyrics of the songs not the music which is really awesome. And this is something new for the music lovers that is tanenglish. We have to appreciate the effort of the crew member not criticize them. It is Not something to criticize. And it is Not a nonsense song, when it gives meaning when you can understand the lyrics. Since it is in tanenglish you can understand the meaning even you don't know Tamil. I really like this song.
  • Syamkamath
    11.12.11 10:51 AM
    Handla glass-u , glass le scotch , eyes u fulla tear u.
    Kolaveri rokz.
    And to kolaveri haters"WHY THIS KOLAVERI DI" ?
  • Writerzblock
    03.12.11 01:03 AM
    @ Aativas & Rajnikanth A: Nice!! And you're right, the simplicity and fresh faces do add a charm! I suppose it won't last like the timeless classics that Bolly/Kolly-wood has produced, but nevertheless, it is good time-pass for now ;-)

    @ Ritu: Thank you so very much!! LOL @ 'absurd song'... quite true infact, and it is amazing that we all love this so veri imperfect song ;-)
  • Rajnikanth.A
    02.12.11 11:44 PM
    like pa pa pa ppaan, pa pa pa ppan, pa pa pa ppaan, pa pa pa ppan and distance ia moonu moonu moonu colour white, white u back ground night.u nignt u colour black
  • Rajnikanth.A
    02.12.11 11:36 PM
    ‘not knowing Kolaveri’ to ‘liking Kolavari’. I guess the simplicity of the tune and the generic feeling and the fresh faces .. make it good. It will not last long though
  • ritu
    02.12.11 03:05 PM
    What a well written article.
    Kolaveri song is a complete absurd song with no real meaning but still its easy and simple lyrics in broken English,Dhanush drunken style of singing, tune of the song do ring bells in my ears though not so much effected by the Kolaveri bug but still I find my ears attentive whenever i hear the song especially pappa pappa
  • aativas
    01.12.11 11:16 PM
    I heard the song for the first time and liked it. Changed party from 'not knowing Kolaveri' to 'liking Kolavari'. I guess the simplicity of the tune and the generic feeling and the fresh faces .. make it good. It will not last long though
  • Writerzblock
    01.12.11 05:26 PM
    @ C Velayudhan Vaidyar:
    Sorry, I didn't quite understand the context of your comment here!

    @ Rohit:
    Lol! Aren't many of us!!
  • Rohit More
    Rohit More
    01.12.11 11:36 AM
    Okey mama, now Tune change......
    Empty Life- u girl- u come- u life-u reverse gear- u...
    lovvu lovvu oh my lovvu, you showed me bouv-u
    ha ha ha :)

    Its Really awesome song....
    pa pa pa ppaan, pa pa pa ppan, pa pa pa ppaan, pa pa pa ppan

    I am like addicted for this Song.... Superb... :)
  • C Velayudhan Vaidyar
    C Velayudhan Vaidyar
    01.12.11 03:04 AM
    Damn, other Indians!It is high time that we, the so-called India, fragmented and became different nations!It is actually the colonial British that unified us; we dont have any unity otherwise and will be better off, without one!
  • rakesh samaddar
    rakesh samaddar
    30.11.11 05:12 PM
    @Writerzblock:-thank you
  • Writerzblock
    30.11.11 03:57 PM
    @ Tab: Have you clicked that link now? :-)

    @ Rakesh: Totally!!!!!
  • rakesh samaddar
    rakesh samaddar
    30.11.11 11:06 AM
    Kolaveri.......hand the glass-u ,glass the scotch-u,eyes the full of tear-u.........its amazing
    why thid kolaveri kolaveri kolaveri di.....papaa papaa papaa two three .......
  • Tabs
    29.11.11 05:09 PM
    I guess I form the minority that hasn't yet heard this song.
  • Writerzblock
    29.11.11 03:22 PM
    @ Hatesh: It means 'murderous rage' or 'killer rage'. Lots of translations exist on Google.

    @ Neelam: So true, this breaks down language barriers, because it isn't perfect Tamil/English, but a colloquial mix of the two!! Hi5 to 'Dhobi Ghat' :-)

    @ Monika: Thank you, so glad you liked it enough to share :-)
  • Writerzblock
    29.11.11 03:18 PM
    @ Joseph James:

    I completely agree with you... Nothing succeeds like success. And yes, the post is in a very miniscule way, a contribution to its success too!

    I LOVE what you said about CB!! You can say anything about him and get away with it!!

    About the 'fascination with the outrageous' as you call it, my take on this is that the audience is perhaps frustrated with large-budget-hyped-films/songs that fail to delivery, and therefore, are going back to basics, and enjoying the simpler things in life, that actually satisfy!!

    You are absolutely right... different factors operate in each case. At the end of the day, it is perhaps simplicity over ostentation!
  • Writerzblock
    29.11.11 03:14 PM
    @ Nabeel: Thank you for sharing that version, loved it!! And that slap..ouch!!!!

    @ Sowmya: Thank you so much! Hi5 right back :-)

    @ Bhupendra: Quite true, Kolaveri is indeed a peppy song, compared to many others that are popular 'just because'. And yes, like you rightly said, this does seem to be the era of marketing!!

    @ Vidhya: Lol, thank you, I'm glad the post helped show things in a different light.

    @ GSathya: Thank you so much.
  • Monika Bakshi
    Monika Bakshi
    29.11.11 02:56 PM
    Simply awesome! Sharing on Facebook!!
  • Neelam Kamdar Bhamani
    Neelam Kamdar Bhamani
    29.11.11 06:56 AM
    I know what you mean! This is the first time I heard the song, even though I have heard of it a lot the last few days. And, it does seem catchy. One doesn't have to understand the words to feel the music.This one has a certain mass appeal, a cute factor.
    And, I just loved Dhobi Ghat:)
  • hatesh
    29.11.11 03:52 AM
    hey all,
    can some tell me exact meaning of it ?
  • Joseph James
    Joseph James
    28.11.11 09:33 PM
    Kolaveri, being the phenomenal success that it is, deserves a post. But can anybody really explain why it has succeeded? And then replicate its success? Even this post has added to its success. I first heard about it from you and then went and listened to the song. I did talk about to a couple of friends who, of course, didn't want to be left out of something that everybody is talking about. Success breeds success. But then even Dhanush's success has surprised me. I saw a highly unforgettable movie of his and thought he wouldn't last another movie. I couldn't have been more wrong. He won the national award this year. Even the other national awardee this year - Salim Kumar - came as a surprise to many, even in his home state.
    And then Chetan Bhagat. Everybody reads him and then condemns him. I feel he owes his success to the youth of today. They can finish a Bhagat in a couple of hours. He speaks their lingo and talks of situations they are familiar with. And of course You can say the nastiest things about him and get away with it. You can have the cake and eat it too as far as he is concerned. Anyway I don't find his success surprising. Would you really expect Gen X to pore over a Dostoevsky?
    Recently 'a rank bad film' Krishananum Radhayum produced by a new comer, Santhosh Pandit (He handles all aspects of the film except the camera) on a ridiculous budget of Rs. 5 lakh has become a superhit in Kerala. Is it a fascination with the outrageous? Or is it people's way of cocking a snook at the pretentious directors and the superstars with massive egos?
    You could go on multiplying the examples.
    I think a different set of factors operates in each of these cases. No point in asking Why this Kolaveri? Hop onto the bandwagon.
  • gsathya
    28.11.11 08:58 PM
    "Well, to me, it is very simply, what I can connect with."
  • Vidhya
    28.11.11 08:50 PM
    Love this post, I don't really get why it's as popular as it is, but I guess your perspective did give me some insight.
  • bhupendra
    28.11.11 08:42 PM
    liked your post !! u know, kolaveri is a far better and peppy song than movies like Dabang , Ready , Wanted , bodyguard etc. :) this is the era of marketing ,No surprise such fanatic fans will vote again for Mayawati in UP and will remain in their kolaveri state :)
  • Sowmya Swaminathan
    Sowmya Swaminathan
    28.11.11 08:41 PM
    Loved this post! I wholeheartedly agree with your views! Especially the Chetan Bhagat part. The reason behind his success is the simple and realistic plots and the strong local flavor in his books!
    And hi5, I love kolaveri song!

    28.11.11 06:14 PM
    haha, love this post, check out the Sharad Pawar version ...
  • Writerzblock
    28.11.11 02:38 AM
    @ Shrinidhi: It is nearing 8 mn views now!! I am really curious to see how far this (madness) goes :-)

    @ Alka: Ha ha, I'll take that as my humble contribution towards speading the kolaveri-veri :-)

    @ Zach: Definitely!! CB is about marketing, and that too using the same old (repetitive) USP of an IIT/IIM loser making mistakes and emerging a hero! I find it completely unappealing, but then like you said, it is perfect for the masses. Is it a global phenomenon, really? I'm very interested in knowing more.

    @ Shooting star: Hope you hear it again ;-)
  • shooting star
    shooting star
    27.11.11 08:09 PM
    aah..have heard this song..quite catchy...!!

  • Zach
    27.11.11 07:10 PM
    I think Chetan Bhagat is all about marketing. His books are easily accessible, easy to understand, doesn't require too much brains to understand. It is perfect for a pseudo-literate. BTW this phenomenon is not geographically limited. exists all around the globe.
  • alka narula
    alka narula
    27.11.11 07:08 PM
    i had been hearing and reading bou this kolaveri jig for quite sum days now today was the 1st time i actually heard it by clicking on ur link above...and am addicted :)
  • Shrinidhi Hande
    Shrinidhi Hande
    27.11.11 07:29 AM
    It is six million+ views now
  • Writerzblock
    27.11.11 02:55 AM
    @ Nicky:
    Totally agree, the beats are good, and the video made it more appealing.. it was nice to see simple people enjoying the beat!! Thank you!
  • Pallavi Subramaniam
    Pallavi Subramaniam
    27.11.11 02:33 AM
    @ Mani:
    Thank you! My thoughts too... while we appreciate the pristine, we also enjoy the rest :-)

    @ Priya:
    Thank you so much. I'm loving it too, 'the madrasi guy and his tanglish' rocking the world :-)

    @ Ruchi:
    Ha ha! Are we really? I actually used to enjoy Govinda's dhinchak songs ;-) so I won't complain, unless ofcourse we have an overdose! And you are bang on, about the 'viral marketing'.. sort of hypes things out of proportion!!

    @ Defiant Princess:
    I cannot imagine a better compliment than the one you just gave :-) Thank you!! Kolaveri is perhaps a fad, we'll have to wait it out. Another thing: the song has a very strong local flavour, so someone from say, Chennai, might appreciate or identify with it extremely well, that perhaps makes him/her enjoy the song more too.

    @ Kofycat:
    Oh I hate the word 'Di' too. I think it is very disrespectful (though I find 'Da' endearing!!) and like you know (as if I haven't gushed about it enough), I loved the song too!

    @ Matheikal:
    I'm not sure if we can call it'trivialisation'. It is perhaps 'simplification' of art. I cannot stand Chetan Bhagat either, but now have a faint idea about WHY he is popular.. because of the 'mass' appeal.

    @ Prasanna Rao:
    Thank you! Chetan Bhagat's work is 'easy', don't agree with the 'nice' bit ;-) But yes, I loved the gentle yet peppy beat of Kolaveri!
  • nicky
    27.11.11 02:12 AM
    Good post, the best part is i enjoyed the song especially beats.Let me tell you i m not much into music,i m tone deaf. Video is very down to earth and as per me it makes it more appealing.
  • Prasanna Rao
    Prasanna Rao
    26.11.11 09:42 PM
    I loved the song, not for its lyrics but for its beats. Yes, I think being simple or being real is "IN". Chetan Bagat, who keeps his language simple and easy to understand in all his books is a huge success in India. Nice post :)
  • matheikal
    26.11.11 09:13 PM
    21st century civilisation is all about trivialisation. Kolaveri is the best example. Chetan Bhagat is the next example.
  • KofyKat
    26.11.11 08:39 PM
    I LOVED the song, inspite of the word DI being there (something I am dead against) ANd people who just put it down are just unable to understand what makes the song click. But it makes perfect sense in that situation.
  • Defiant Princess
    Defiant Princess
    26.11.11 06:01 PM
    honestly, i too heard the song cuz of all the frenzy , didnt like. next day i heard it again just to maake sure that i really didnt like. and yes, i didnt! i dont understand all d mania. its like the Friday of indian music. and why are those young stars in the video? when shruti hasan puts on those headphones, i feel like she's about to sing..but bam! disappointment.
    kolaveri's just another fad ..gonna pass too soon.
    but, i like the post you've penned!
  • Ruchi Sunandan
    Ruchi Sunandan
    26.11.11 05:39 PM
    Nice! Well written. Kolaveri is just one of the many of these type. In tamil, there's a term for such songs "tappankuthu" - which means "tapori types".. I guess with the likes of 'Dhinkachika', we are coming back to the tapori era initiated by Anil Kapoor's and Govinda's of the yester years.. But of course, the bigger credit goes to our new age 'viral marketing' for bringing everything to our screens in a flash of a second.
  • priya
    25.11.11 01:09 PM
    Loved the song as well as your article!! :)Looks like the whole world /wide web is swooning to a 'madrasi guy' crooning Tanglish unabashedly. Loving it!
  • Mani Karthik
    Mani Karthik
    25.11.11 10:04 AM
    Haha nice one Pallavi. I agree. Perfection is a relative term. When we have lots of things floating around us, with the cliche tags attached to it, claiming to be the "supposedly" perfect ones, we tend to pick out the one that entertains us. Simple as that. Simple things attract us more than anything, while we appreciate complex and intricate art forms. We like capsules not episodes of long stories. Well most of us, to clarify.

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