No reason for kolaveri

New film Aakko has released posters that features Anirudh Ravichander.

New film Aakko has released posters that features Anirudh Ravichander.  


…but much cause to celebrate. It’s a coming of age of sorts for Kollywood poster boy Anirudh Ravichander, with big-budget Kaththi and his first Bollywood film. vishal menon catches up

I was struggling to get in touch with Anirudh. After innumerable tries, I got a call one day from an unknown number. True Caller said the call was from ‘Music King’. Intrigued, I picked up the phone. “Buddy,” said the voice. “Anirudh here. This is my new number… why don’t you come home tomorrow for the interview? See you at 7.” That’s Anirudh for you… he might take a bit longer than everyone else but he always comes through with a bang.


Kaththi, a really big break seems to have happened quite early in your career. How was it working with A.R. Murugadoss?

We met only once at a hotel when Murugadoss asked if I would work with him on his next film with Vijay. Later, when we started work, I asked him why he chose me. He said he was so surprised to see a music director being applauded when the credits rolled after Ethir Neechal. He also noticed how the kids in his apartment complex were singing my songs from Vanakkam Chennai. That’s when he decided to work with me and we gel well as a team. That’s perhaps why he also signed me on for his next Hindi film with Fox Studios, on which work will start in January.

Tell us about Vijay. Were you asked to compose a number specifically for him?

Vijay sir wanted to record at 9 a.m. ( Laughs) I’m hardly up at that time. I had sent him a scratch version of ‘Selfie Pulla’. When he came to record, I realised he had already rehearsed it a few times. It was really nice to see such a busy person take the trouble. We finished recording the number in under an hour. The idea of a song for Vijay sir was there from the start. And when I travelled to Singapore for a concert, I noticed how crazy everyone was about selfies. I got the idea of ‘let’s take a selfie’ as the hook line for a song. I returned to Chennai and composed it. Of course, Vijay lent his character to it.

Your songs are quickest to touch the one-million mark on YouTube. It’s as though you know the magic formula.

I think I have a subliminal connection with YouTube ( laughs). It’s one of the major reasons I’m here. My listeners are generally aged below 30, and they’re the ones busy on social networks. The future is there and I’m glad I have a base on the Internet, especially when CDs are becoming outdated. Another thing that might have worked in my favour is the length of my songs. Of the forty-odd songs I’ve composed, there are just four or five that exceed four-and-a-half minutes. Most are between three and three-and-a-half minutes. That’s how English songs are.

But Internet successes are also short-lived. Don’t people forget the songs as fast?

No, not really. The radio extends life. By the time a song touches one million views, another set of people starts downloading it or listening to it on the radio.

You’ve a reputation for taking a long time to compose songs.

It’s been three years and I have done just 40-odd songs for six films. After 3, I could have gone on a signing spree and made a lot of money, but I didn’t. It’s true I take a long time to compose songs. I make tunes every day, but they don’t necessarily work. I listen to a song several times to see how I can improve it even if it means flouting deadlines. Only when I’m 100 per cent satisfied, do I play it to the director. So for every song I’ve composed, there are hundreds and thousands of songs that have been discarded. I do just two or three films a year. I did three films in 2014 and I feel that’s a bit much. ( Laughs) I want to cut it down to two. Having said that, I must apologise for the delays I have caused.

Your films release with ‘An Anirudh Musical’ written in bold. New film Aakko has released posters that feature you alone — even when you’re not acting in it.

Somehow they’ve given me that place and all I can do is work hard and offer better music. The name and fame I got initially was just too much to handle, but I’ve learnt to deal with it. About publicity, I don’t know how that works. I think it’s the age. If I was 40 and making the same kind of music, I’m sure the craze wouldn’t have been there. I’m glad success has come early.

Tell us about BGM. Is the process different from composing songs?

Background music is not well recognised in our country. Right from my first film, I’ve made it a point to release all my background scores and try to add one or two themes to the album. That’s because the work that goes into BG is much more than what goes into songs. Songs are usually just your imagination, but the score has to work with the scene and what the director wants to convey. The first few months of making a film is all about travelling with the songs and the emotions in them. Later, once the film gets ready, you sit down and see how to enhance each scene reel by reel. That gives you a very different high.

Your compositions continue to feature Vishal Dadlani, Yo Yo Honey Singh, Hiphop Tamizha...

Some people really excite you. When you work with them, you know the session is going to be something else. With Vishal, Honey and Aadhi, the sessions are just electrifying. Once you experience that, you crave for more and so I keep going back to them. The fact that like me they all come from the independent scene gives me a kick. But it’s also time I started looking for new singers.

But you’ve also worked with Yesudas, S. Janaki, Deva...

If working with the younger lot is electrifying, working with the legends is more of a divine feeling. When I work with them, I feel their blessings are with me. I believe that will take me forward.

Can you imagine doing something else? We heard you were a great student...

In the film field, it is easy to get carried away with people around you saying ‘you’re killing it…’ ‘you’re rocking it…’ But my friends have kept me grounded all along. They tell me to my face if a song is good, bad or awful. People think I’m only close to Dhanush and Sivakarthikeyan because I’ve worked with them more than once. But my actual ‘gang’ of friends is a bunch no one knows. As for studies, I always did my exams well but that’s because I was a master at copying not because I studied well. ( Laughs)

Do directors still come to you and say, ‘Anirudh, I want one more ‘Kolaveri’?

Not anymore. I wouldn’t do it. That’s done and dusted. Now it’s about going forward. Honestly, I want to get rid of the ‘Kolaveri’ tag as soon as possible.

There were rumours of you getting into acting. You feature in some of your own music videos?

I enjoy shooting for videos as long as it’s just for two or three days. But when it takes longer, I realise I can’t think beyond the sets, how I’m going to dance, and how I look. Eventually, these too are about music and taking it forward. That’s why I didn’t want to get into acting. Making music also takes a lot of time, effort and pain but it’s more enjoyable.

Music is mysterious in the way it takes shape. I have no idea where the tunes come from or if they are going to work at all. At the end of the day, you make a song and play it in your car when you’re driving back home. Nothing feels better than that moment.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 3:39:03 AM |

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