The Whistle Podu campaign has spawned many fan videos to cheer the Chennai Super Kings during the IPL season. Sudhish Kamath meets the people behind some of them

Ask not what the team did for you. Ask what you can do for the team. Or at least that's what die-hard fans of Chennai Super Kings seem to believe.

Nandakumar Subramaniam bought about 30 CSK T-shirts and had them shipped to 12 different cities in eight countries to shoot a CSK Global Fan Video edited by G. K. Prasanna. “We shot in three cities in Australia — Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, three cities in the U.S. — New York, Washington DC and Los Angeles, apart from Toronto (Canada), London, Belfast (Ireland), Singapore, India and Sri Lanka. We started shooting last July using mostly friends, family and friends of friends and are now set to shoot the second part of the video in Dubai, Paris and San Francisco,” says Nandakumar, the video director.

“Everyone has an iPhone. So I just send them a brief on how the video should be like, basic guidelines... like people should be wearing the CSK T-shirt and whistling or dancing in the foreground, while the background should register the landmark of the city they are in. We were inspired by the fan video done at Fruit Shop on Greams Road where a group of people suddenly get up to do the Whistle Podu dance.”

The Whistle Podu flash mob was staged at Fruit Shop on Greams Road and at Landmark. “It had to seem spontaneous. So we just did it like a flash mob,” says actor Mathivanan Rajendran of the theatre group Stray Factory, who figures in the fan video shot inside Fruit Shop, last year. “A lot of us from Stray Factory worked with OPN Advertising that handles the CSK account to get that done,” he adds.

The idea of that activity was to take the Whistle Podu campaign to the ground level and get people involved in it.

The mastermind behind the Whistle Podu campaign, Chocka, Creative Director of OPN Advertising and hardcore CSK fan, recalls how the first video almost never got made when IPL was shifted to South Africa.

“We had 15 minutes of shoot time with some of the players and a handycam. We asked them to whistle and thought we'd see what we could do with it later. We wanted to do a chant or something. We discussed this with music directors Arvind and Jaishankar. As fans of Rajnikant, the first thing we do to show our love is whistle, so we thought of creating something that tells people to cheer. It wasn't even the official video, it still isn't but people seem to think that Whistle Podu is the official anthem. It's not. It's a fan video.”

Chocka's team produced the first video that caught on so much that the team management decided to fund this year's fan video.

The team just brought out the new CSK fan video called “Raise Your Hands” shot by Krishna of Blackbox Films with music by Timothy Madhukar. The agency bought the rights of the song from “Murattu Kalai” from Ilaiyaraja and tweaked it into a new fan video. The video features over 600 fans doing the Mexican Wave in different places around Chennai.

“Whistle Podu is a property we developed over the last three years. We wanted to make the whistle which has a local connect with Chennai from an individual thing into a collective thing that brings all of Chennai together. When Dhoni hits a six, you raise your hands. When we win, you raise your hands. When there's a wicket, you raise your hands. We wanted to take that Mexican Wave and connect it with cricket. We've already got a lakh views on YouTube,” Chocka explains.

Recently, IIM-Kozhikode came down to do a case study on the Whistle Podu campaign. “When other teams were spending Rs. 80-90 lakh on their videos, we did something very simple and basic that caught on. The support from fans has been really huge. I don't know if any other team can boast of such fans,” adds Chocka.

Fans would get out of their own wedding to cheer for CSK.

Rajiv Rajaram, stand-up comedian and fanatic, did exactly that. “I told Chocka I wanted to be in the fan video. I got busy with the wedding... As soon as I tied the thaali and had just taken off the mala, I saw Chocka waiting with a camera. We had not even changed from our wedding clothes; 30 friends and relatives, including me and my wife danced for the CSK fan video that came out last year. I am now in all versions of Whistle Podu.”

Other videos

Last year, rapper BlaaZe and Paul Jacob brought out an unofficial fan anthem called ‘Dheem Tharikitta.' This year, singers Charulatha Mani and Srimathumita have come out with a fan video called ‘Machi.' Popular CSK videos this year include fan-made videos cut to Simbu's ‘Adra Ada Dum' (cut by Peter Clarke), a “Lagaan”-flavoured tribute to Ashwin (cut by Sugan) that documents the auction when Vijay Mallya laughed at CSK's bid and contrasts the footage with reactions of Mallya to all the wickets Ashwin took of Royal Challengers Bangalore and an incredibly funny video of Mr. Bean dancing to Whistle Podu uploaded by ‘Bean Boy Bean Boy'.

The official website of Chennai Super Kings last year received over 25 videos from fans. This year, the count has only gone up and will be up on the website as soon as they are cleared by the team management, we hear.

If you haven't yet been there, hit Fan Zone to join in and cheer.


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