Is it sahana, natabhairavi or reetigowla? No, it's subhapantuvarali. The masterminds behind the Carnatic version of ‘Kolaveri' speak up

By now, we have all tuned into Kolaveri on repeat mode. The rhythm, Dhanush's laidback drawl and the Tamil-English lyrics have made Kolaveri a phenomenon, much before the release of their film,3. Not surprisingly, within a week, there are at least a dozen remixes and spin-offs, from metal to Hindi and acoustic guitar to flute versions.

Among them all, a Carnatic fusion version (http://soundcloud.com/mohank/ kolaveri-subhapantuvarali) is also going viral on the net. A bunch of music-loving Mumbaikars (with some knowledge of Tamil and Carnatic music of course) are behind this crazy and catchy, earnest yet hilarious fusion. Interestingly, the musicians involved have never worked as a band before. They met through social networking sites and came together to discuss music and ended up making the Carnatic Kolaveri.

The creators of Carnatic Kolaveri are Naren Shenoy, Ramaa Ramesh, Rahul Krishna, Mahesh Sethuraman, Mohan Krishnamoorthy and a girl who wishes to be known just as M. Mohan Krishnamoorthy, CEO of IIT-B Monash University, first listened to Kolaveri on Friday, November 18. A stickler for classical music, he first chided himself for tuning into Dhanush's ‘soup song' but the rhythm was stuck in his head. “A few hours after I had first heard it, a friend asked me what raga the song was based on. I sat down with a colleague, Rahul Krishna, and tried to figure out the raga. We were convinced it was sahana. In the end, we decided it was natabhairavi. Along the way, given that we were stripping out the notes included in the original song, we hit on an idea of using an alternative pallavi (refrain) line in some other Carnatic raga.”

In five minutes, they had a 50-second rendition based on raga reetigowla. “We called it Sounds from a Friday Evening and put it up on http://soundcloud.com/mohank/sounds-from-friday-evening,” he says.

Despite not ‘advertising' it on Twitter or Facebook, within 12 hours, the song had more than 2000 hits and requests poured in for a fuller rendition. The following day, during a music-centred discussion with friends, the focus shifted to Kolaveri and hearing Naren Shenoy singing a few lines of the Hindustani raag, mian-ki-todi, the group realised Kolaveri would sound better in subhapantuvarali, the Carnatic equivalent of the Hindustani todi.

The fun got better while working on the pampaampapa… drawl. In the Carnatic version, the tune is a take off on the popular snake charmer tune ‘aadu paambe magudi' sung in punnagavarali. “In half an hour we had a song we were happy with. We rehearsed once and recorded it on my iPad,” says Mohan.

In four days, the version has had more than 50,000 listens. “We found each other through Twitter. We never expected that our remix would become such a hit,” beams Ramaa Ramesh.

Narendra Shenoy seconds that, “We met up to jam. Since I am more familiar with Hindustani, I was looking to pick up some points on Carnatic music and generally to have a bit of fun.”

Fun it is, indeed, and it reflects in the fusion.

Tune in

Listen to the Carnatic fusion version at http://soundcloud.com/mohank/kolaveri-subhapantuvarali.

The creators are professionals from different walks of life who came together for the love of music. The team includes Naren Shenoy, Ramaa Ramesh, Rahul Krishna, Mahesh Sethuraman and Mohan Krishnamoorthy.

In four days, the version has had more than 50,000 listens.

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