Why this ‘Why this Kolaveri’?

Making sense of a Tanglish song with quirky, improvised lyrics which went viral and has already got about 1.5 million hits on the official page

November 23, 2011 01:34 am | Updated November 22, 2021 06:55 pm IST - CHENNAI:

CHENNAI, 22/11/2011: Actor Dhanush, sings a song for a movie Kola Veri at a studio in Chennai. Photo: S_S_Kumar

CHENNAI, 22/11/2011: Actor Dhanush, sings a song for a movie Kola Veri at a studio in Chennai. Photo: S_S_Kumar

Tell him you are totally irritated with the sheer enormity and omnipresence of his song ‘Why this Kolaveri, di' that's become the earworm of the nation and 21-year-old music director of 3 , Anirudh Ravichander, laughs it off.

“I apologise,” he adds, quite amused and excited by the thunderous response to the single that was first leaked and officially released subsequently. Just four days ago.

The ‘Tanglish' song with quirky, improvised lyrics went viral and has already got about 1.5 million hits on the official page. It has been shared on social networks by hundreds, and has found fans among Bollywood celebrities and non-Tamil speaking youth from around the country and has sparked off debate on whether the song is anti-women or anti-English speakers.

“It's not meant to be anti-anything. Director [Aishwarya Dhanush] said the situation demanded a light-hearted fun song about love failure. I came up with a tune in ten minutes. I don't know what kind of mood Dhanush was in… he started singing in broken English and came up with this in 20 minutes. It just happened,” recalls Anirudh.

Apart from the obvious catchiness of the phrase ‘Why this Kolaveri di' and the simple folk-ish tune, the fact that the song had broken English lines sung with a thick local Tamil flavour might have something to do with its popularity.

“It's probably a rage because of the funny, broken English and some amount of musicality, but I cannot really explain beyond a point,” says Anirudh.

‘Why this Kolaveri di' became the first regional film song to be played by radio stations around the country on Tuesday evening. But Kolaveri, Soup Song... what do these words even mean to someone not familiar with the local slang?

Dhanush tweeted to clarify: “Soup song na [means] love failure song...Doubt clear aa?” Kolaveri is light-hearted slang for blood thirst. So it's no surprise that the song of a jilted boy asking the girl why she did that to him has become an anthem.

The song isn't just an outlet for single-boy angst of coping with rejection, it was also doing that in a language that tried to fit in to the world of the English speaking urban populace.

This is a type that Dhanush has perfected in his films. In his recent National award winning film Aadukalam , he tries speaking in English to woo the Anglo-Indian girl to hilarious effect when he tells her about his rooster but uses a word native speakers of the language would avoid in such a situation.

It is this lower middle class boy-next-door image and his inherent lack of larger-than-life heroism that have made Dhanush, and the characters he plays, relatable to his fans. They identify with him.

While the lyrics of this song are just an extension of the carefree slacker personality he often plays, his self-deprecatory broken English has worked in mysterious subversive ways.

Dhanush has indeed made broken English cool among some urban pockets but others laugh at it, rather than with it.

English is a formal language. Maybe breaking that stiff formality was just what the country wanted to let its hair down and share a laugh over a distinctly honest Indian voice. Accent included.

Click >here to see the video of this song

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