‘Why this Kolaveri?,' a single from the forthcoming Tamil film 3, is the new buzz in town, the current symbol of popular culture

The song may have dumbed itself down as a ‘soup song,' condemned itself to be a ‘flop song', but so far, going by the number of downloads, blogs and tweets, it is having a fairy tale run. ‘Why this Kolaveri?' (‘Why this killer rage?'), a single from the forthcoming Tamil film ‘3,' is the new buzz in town, the current symbol of popular culture, and the subject of puzzled and admiring attention of the country.

‘Why this Kolaveri', sung by actor Danush himself, son-in-law of Rajinikanth and composed by the debutant Anirudh is a song in free style. It creatively mixes Tamil and English to express the angst of a young man whose lady love has either just walked out of his life or rejected his proposal. The words flow unmediated and that appeals. It takes a dig at the English speaking youths, locally nicknamed as the `Peter crowd,' who are often perceived to look down on the Tamil speaking who are no less in aspirations. The hybrid music which combines urban vernacular with the western is thus a conscious choice and going by the popularity it has worked.

Sung by a love sick youth in an inebriated condition, the lyric is apparently absurd, but the pathos is clear. The mocking humor is enjoyable, the beat is catchy, and sounds are refreshingly appealing. It is feet tapping, and brings in a smile. It is a Chennai chutney - sweet and salt.

Tamil films have always tried to create space for both classical music based melodies, which unmistakably appeal to the upper class, and also the vernacular rhythm based pacy songs, which has found support amongst the youth. With the successful emergence of antihero characters, popularly portrayed by Rajinikanth and Vijayakanth, the local beats have gained more space, and the urban versions have seen an ascent.

Danush has improvised on this dark skinned antihero phenomenon and produced a convincing romantic version of it. If the song ‘Vacha Kannale' from his previous national award winning movie, ‘Aadukalam,' represents the folk version of the romantic, ‘Why this Kolaveri' is the Tamil urban ethnic.

But there is no doubt ‘Why this Kolaveri', like many other Tamil songs before it, is unmistakably juvenile and clearly male chauvinistic. The lyric blames the woman for all ills. She is white skinned but her heart is dark, the song blames. The story line of the movie may try to justify this, but Kolaveri is not an isolated occurrence. In a way it is not very different from the other hugely popular new song ‘Adi da avala' (‘hit her') sung by Danush in the other forthcoming film ‘Mayakam Enna', where the anti-woman stance and the self pitying nature is violently explicit. Both the songs unashamedly carry the domineering male perspective of romance, marriage and life in total.

Not only Danush, many heroes before him including Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth have unrepentantly played to the male-dominant gallery and derided women. Songs like ‘Why this Kolaveri' are fractal versions of the movies they are part of – one long narrative of ‘eve teasing'.


Why this ‘Why this Kolaveri’?November 23, 2011

Now, a Carnatic ‘Kolaveri’November 24, 2011