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Why This Kolaveri Di Gets It Right On YouTube

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The making of ‘Why This Kolaveri Di’ uploaded on YouTube by Sony Music India has aggregated over a million views in around four days – over 25,000 in the last couple of hours alone. For a film producer, the success of a film depends on its first weekend, and typically, around 70 percent of the films revenues are earned in the first week alone; music is a source of revenue, more importantly, it is a means of generating interest among movie-goers before the film hits the theaters.

While much depends on whether the song appeals to the listener – I haven’t been able to stop listening to it since I began – and it is quite difficult to predict what will become kvlt (that is, cult) and go viral.

(Source: YouTube)

Here are a few things I thought Sony got right:

– Internet first: I don’t watch Tamil films, so I would probably have never heard the song had it not been released online. The communal nature of social networks and the propensity to share things that people find interesting gives the song a wider audience. If the song clicks – and it has – people share it, and ‘Kolaveri’ has been trending on Twitter today, leading to more people asking questions about it, and joking.

– The Making Of: This is something I feel most media houses don’t do enough of. I remember spending half a day at Delhi leg of the first season of India’s Got Talent, and there there was some great behind the scenes content – reactions of contestants, bloopers, judges out-takes – which I felt were worth sharing online, but eventually was junked. The execs from Colors whom I spoke with there appeared to be least interested in using it, which was a shame. This Kolaveri video has that same raw feel to it that any making-of or unplugged recording has, which allows the viewer to connect with it more easily than the fantasy that a song-and-dance film song creates. I think more channels and film businesses should do this. You’ll probably see more buzz around Kolaveri once the film-based video is also published.


– Lyrics: I quite liked the way they added the lyrics to the song, making it easier to some of us who don’t understand Tamil or even the colloquial references to understand what is being said, and more importantly, spread the word by asking friends who understand Tamil what Kolaveri means.

– Caller Ringback Tone Integration: This is where the money is going to come from for the label – repeatedly during the song, there is information on how the songs of the movie Three can be set as a caller ringback tone. While we don’t know the numbers (we’ve written to Techzone for info), it will be interesting to see the conversion rates between online views and mobile CRBT subscriptions.

What they can do:
– Co-creation: given how many people have now heard the song, I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a part of common conversations (like the phrase “We are like this only”). There’s more – the word kolaveri – which the Internet informs us means killer rage, lends itself to meme’s depicting anger, thus again increasing the virality of the content. For example, see this, this and (via @BarnabyHM) and this (via anantha). I’d say they need to create a Kolaveri website featuring some of this work, and allow it to go viral.

Will this mean that more people will watch the movie? Perhaps not outside the audience base that watches Tamil films. Will this mean that more people will subscribe to its CRBT? Maybe. I’m tempted. What is obvious, though, is that more people know about the song and the film because it has gone viral.

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  • Nikhil, while I liked the song, I thought the ‘making of’ video was a tad un-authentic. Everyone looked very conscious and ‘trying too hard’ if you know what I mean. I don’t think people are usually all decked up when they’re spending all day in a sound studio and the whole thing had a bit of an artificial/manufactured feel to it. In that respect I think the ‘making of’ video for the Akon song from Ra.One was far more casual/believable. Artificial virality can boomerang if not careful

    • I would agree here with @25044dddb16529813d895e77da321d20:disqus here… No doubt the music is catchy; the video has gone viral and caught the fancy of the nation, but it doesn’t give the feel of a candid video. The “making of” video is made-up. A lot of thought, creativity and direction has gone into this video. Specially the decked up girls doing nothing in the recording room totally give it up. :)

      And yeah, definitely content producers still living in the old media world can take some cues from Sony Music on this one.

      • Sam

        Specially the decked up girls doing nothing in the recording room totally give it up. :)>> Dude, one’s the director of the movie, the other is the female lead :)

        • Apologies for my ignorance which extends not just to Kollywood but to Bollywood as well. But don’t you find the look and feel of the video made-up. It’s a promotional video, yeah, but not a “making of” video. And I still believe no one sits in a recoding session all decked up, especially the director of the movie. :)

        • Shyam Nath

          She(Rajinikanth’s daughter) is not only the Director but also the wife of the singer. the other female lead is Kamal Haasan’s daughter.

        • Naveen

          Female lead also a singer and music director…

      • stock

        It is okay I am sure there are some people who are  ignorant and might think a Gupta is just a decked up  Pakistani living in India !lol Pardon me , my ignorance is bliss….

        • – No arguing the fact that Kolaveri has gone viral and I’m sure the popularity is much beyond what Sony or Dhanush or the creators of this video might have imagined.

          – Afterwatching the video, there shouldn’t be a doubt that it’s not shot candidly. Everyone was doing it for the camera, be it the decked up director, the singer or the lead actress.

          – Again repeating the same thing that I said earlier: It’s a promotional video – Yes; it’s a candid “making of Kolaveri video” – No.

          – That said, the big media houses can take few lessons from the guerrilla marketing done by Sony here. Though I do suspect the initial spread of video over social networks must be part of a paid campaign. But later the “liking”, “sharing” and “retweeting” by the masses took over.

          – PS: I’m a decked-up Alien living in India (and my profile pic should’ve made that clear). xD

      • Thegreekegyptian

        the decked up girls – one is the heroine in the movie and one is the singer’s wife. i see no reason why they shudnt be there. 

        little more info:- the heroine happens to be kamal hasan’s daughter, and kamal hasan is accepted a the greatest tamil actor after rajini. the singer is rajini’s son-in-law.

  • While I think you’ve made some smart points here, I don’t think this is as insightful a ‘best social media’ practice as one looks for. 

    I saw this video being circulated for a day or two before I decided to check it out myself. I thought twas an ‘okay’ song and I certainly do agree the guys are trying really hard to be ‘candid’ in the ‘making of the video’. Also, I think the pretty girl in the video is more enticing than the song. What seemed genuine though was the fun the singer was having while recording the song. 

    It’d be interesting to know if Sony spent any money on advertising this video or just had a really expansive team of social media execs viralling it on their respective social spaces. 

    • My guess would be that the initial spread of video over social networks must be part of a paid campaign or they might have sent the video to few movers & shakers of social media in India. And later the “liking”, “sharing” and “retweeting” by the masses took over.

      • Well I head the company (http:facebook.com/jackintheboxww) that viralled this video for Sony Music and I can tell you that it was not a paid campaign because there were absolutely no expectations from this video. 

        In the first place, there was no campaign. It was just a video we got from Sony and we really liked it. So we said, if we like it, so might a bunch of other people on the net especially because we are a Mumbai based company with different people from all over the country and all of us liked the song even though we all didn’t understand the lyrics fully. Was the video candid or staged? Well, the reason the director was there was because this song was never written. It was made up by Dhanush when he walked in on a music session between Aishwarya and Anirudh the music composer. He just took the mike and started rapping some lyrics out. The video you see is the video of the final recording of the song in the studio. Yes, the video was meant for sort of showing Dhanush’s fans his singing side. Shruti Hassan was there because they were recording more than one song and she sings. And were they all decked up? They were wearing simple tees and jeans and they belong to the movie industry. So a little makeup is expected. Plus the focus was on Dhanush for the most part and not on Shruti Hassan or on Aishwarya. People will doubt a lot of things. The only question to ask yourselves is this “Did you like the song? Did you hum it even if you didn’t understand it? And yes, did you talk about it, share it?” If you did, which I am guessing you did, that explains why it became viral. This is entertainment people. The only question you need answer is “Were you entertained?”Cheers!

        • Well Sir, thanks for the whole story. No one here doubted the virality of the video or the fact that they keep of humming it/listening to it repeatedly. The only questions were on how did Sony go about marketing this video and wether the video was shot candidly or with proper planning and direction. Again saying what I’ve said earlier that the big media houses can take few lessons on how to reach mass audience and create a buzz much before the actual movie/music is released.

        • We do content creation, seeding and analytics. We are an end-to-end digital content company. We are the digital agency on record of Sony Music, Red Bull, Puma, L’Oreal Paris, Louis Philippe and a bunch of other brands. Satisfied? :-)

        • Pretty much, yes! :)

        • Firstly Prashanth thanks for taking the time & effort to put out a detailed reply – comments like these add to the content and make medianama a great industry platform to exchange views on.

          I don’t think most of the comments here doubted the entertainment value – it’s terrific and we all like the song and yes I was humming it and shared it. Thanks for clarifying the “no paid promotion” bit – we’ll take your word for it; in any case it didn’t seem like it was a campaign, as I mentioned in an earlier comment.The only moot point was the question you’ve stated: “Was the video candid or staged?”
          This point may not be of as little significance to viewers as one thinks. With the exposure that internet audiences have to global content, it’s pretty easy to get a sense of authenticity in a “making of video”. While your anecdote about the song being composed real-time is definitely believable, the fact is that the video was shot after the actual incident occurred (as you’ve stated) in an attempt to recreate that impromptu jam-session feel. While this is also perfectly legit, the fact is that participants in the video come across a tad conscious of the fact (almost as if they’re “acting”) that they’re being filmed, so a little bit of behind the scenes “cinéma vérité” authenticity is lost. This is my personal opinion on an entirely subjective matter. 

          Full disclosure: I work for the Times Group which competes with Sony in a number of ways though not in my particular line of work. Opinions are entirely personal :)

        • Thegreekegyptian

          i have already seen how popular newspapers and the hindi media received the song. after reading jose’s answers, if you still doubt it, it should either mean that you have done nothing to understand the tamil perspective that he was talking about, or that you are jealous like everyone else i see here, who talk few good words just because its popular, and then go on to highlight as many faults and flaws that they can find. more than 2 popular newspapers have already shown their hatred almost explicitly. i even read in an article on rajinikanth which aimed only at preventing readers from liking him. it may not be your newspaper, but that doesnt prove that you are innocent either.

          let me not stop there. i have seen the respect given to tamil movies in mumbai. various movies like singham, bodyguard, etc. are remade in hindi, and while people love it so much, they are never told that these are taken from tamil cinemas. may be a single mention in the movie video. if they mention a tamil movie that was adopted from bollywood, they will at once say “XYZ, the tamil remake of ABC”, but if a btown hit is a remake of a tamil movie, they wont open their mouth. i heard that the hero of singham got himself six packs, and when asked why, talked about other actors but failed to mention the fact that the hero in the tamil movie had six packs. if such is the recognition you give us, then we cant help singing “why this kolaveri” to you. and if this is the way your newspaper publishes, we wont read it. btw, i stopped buying TOI last year.

  • Guess they’ve done a decent job compared to any bollywood trash [ including the recent social media stunt of RA one ] that we’ve seen so far. People dont drink or dance inside recording studios in Chennai. They just sit and do their work. 
    I dont think Sony had a plan or even predicted the success of this meme. This is probably the first mainstream hit of this magnitude . There is nothing artificial about the viral effect and it’s spread across the world except few African countries. A good case study for the Entertainment Industry

    • That could have been phrased better, sorry – when I said artificial virality, I wasn’t referring to the way it spread. It seemed like genuine viral sharing and not a paid/ad blitzkreig that one sees for Ra.one and others, so I agree with you there. The ‘artificial’ was in reference to the video itself – your point that ppl in Chennai (and elsewhere incl Mumbai) just sit and work is valid … in this video they seemed NOT to be doing that very naturally – the track also looks/sounds dubbed over the visual. Studio sessions are usually not attended by lead actress & director though as Shyam points out, if she also happens to be the singer’s wife, it could be normal – but why would she be giving cues from the booth in either of those two capacities – looked staged ‘for camera’ rather than candid images of actual recording session.

      No disagreement with the fact that it is a mainstream hit and a good case study for industry. However talented/whacky the creator, true scale comes when backed by a name like Sony. A good example is the success in the US of Lonely Island who do their own thing mainly for online, but with the full support/resources of Saturday Night Live.

      • Gujunguch

        dude, singer’s wife is the director. and the composer is her first cousin. the female lead is also a singer. Since all of them are from celebrity families, they know each other very well. Their parents used to work together.

      • Abhi , wait wait…..Shruti [ Kamalahasan’s daughter] , is more of a singer/musician than an actor. I am not sure whether you are aware, But its a practice among directors to be in the recording studio with the music director , during important events. From a Tam perspective Aishwarya , adds a lotta sale-ability to the video , just because she is Rajnikanth’s daughter. I guess its more to do with you guys not being able to understand how people behave and react in the southern end of the country .

        I still dont buy the idea that Sony planned and executed it. Not sure whether you are in contact with market or probably a product/tech guy. Also not sure whether you’ve met marketing heads and digital heads of mainstream corporates and entertainment organisations in India to pitch digital solutions. I suggest you meet few marketing heads . You’ll understand what i meant :)Personally, I am also not a big fan of Chennai. But , in general people do not pretend that they are working, like in Mumbai- the gas capital of India :D

  • Divya Purnaiya

    How viral is that!
    The video was fiction , but the viral was all fact. I don’t think even the makers of the video would have predicted the growth virally. Its a simple song, catchy tune, and shot expertly.
    At a point in the day, my fb wall was filled with either the video, or comments about it.
    One of the factors going for it was the “behind the scenes” is unusual, i amnt sure if every other “behind the scenes”will get this kind of traction!
    I liked the part in your article about how to monetise this.
    We should do an instant poll to see how many non tam speakers will watch the movie, or watch to see if the producers take a cue from the excitement and dub it in multiple languages (or at least hindi) to cater to a larger audience (read revenue stream)

  • M Munigant

    everything you wanted to know about kolaveri:


  • John

    Hi All, The movies is “3”. The singer is a hero of Tamil Films Dhanush, The Director of the movie is Aishwarya who is wife of Dhanush ( Daughter of Rajnikanth). The other female who is singing is Shruthi (Kamal hasan’s daughter) who is in the lead role of the movie. Music Director Anirudh is cousin of Aiswarya Dhanush.
    A simple funny song.
    The words were just thought up , not written as lyric, in just 20 minutes Dhanush sang this extempore.  This was never meant to be this way at all. The song got leaked out on YouTube and the producers want to provide an official one hence this release with subtitle.

    All these are available in news clips, interviews. Kolaveri means murder rage , but here it is used in a lighter sense, like why do you torture me or daunt me, some thing like that.  Soup song is a song for a boy who’s lady love has walked off. In the middle he mentions ” take the notes and also take some snacks”
    Want anything about this song, refer wikipedia, yes, there is a separate page. Why this Kolaveri Di !

  • Vctanbu

    The Girls are daughters of RajiniKanth (Aishwarya Danush,director of the film ‘3’) and Kamal Hasan (Shruthi,Lead Female for the film 3). Music Dir Aniruth firsh Cousin of Aishwariya .

    The Singer is Dhanush(won Best Actor: National award 2010). Son of Director & Music Dir. Kasturi Raja and Younger brother of Dir. Selvaragavan. 

  • Indjokester

    Now, Why this Kolaveri di has George Bush lamenting over his loss of Condolezza Rice. The Video is hilarious

  • This video is reached top position in Youtube by getting more than 4 million views so far. This song beats the record in you tube history. Hope the other songs from this film “3” will be a massive hit.

  • money brite

    now the views count has increased to about 10  million, still counting……..


  • This is the official story of how Kolaveri became a rage http://ninjamagic.in/2011/11/kolaveri-the-official-story/

  • kris royale

    Kolaveri job

    yo boys im writing song

    fake song..

    flop song..

    Why dis software software software job

    Why dis software software software job

    Fukking correct

    Why dis software software software job

    Why dis software software software ……………. aa job

    i got job-u job-u. Experience is fake-u

    first task give-u give-u.My mind block-uuuuuuuuu

    Why dis software software software job

    Why dis software software software job

    White skin-u client-u client_u.client heart black_u.

    Cleint call_u came_u came_u .I switched off_u.

    Why dis software software software job

    Why dis software software software job

    mama laptop ethuko,appadiye kaiyla ciggarete ethuko,

    pa pa pa ppaan-pa pa pa ppan-pa pa pa ppaan pa pa ppan

    sariya clientuu.. ha ha ha ha

    Super mama ready….onee twooo three ????????????

    whaa wat-a change over clinetu..

    Ok clientu now requiremnet change…

    chethilo glass…..

    only english…….

    Handula glass-u, glass-la licker-u eyes u full–aa tear-u

    Empty life-u job came-u life reverse gear-u

    job-u job-u software job-u u showed me bouv-u

    cow-u cow-u holy cow-u u make shit on clent-u

    God-u iam dying now-u client is happy how-u

    this-u song-u for fake boys-u

    we dont have choice-u

    Why dis software software software job

    Why dis software software software job..

    Why dis software software software job.. 

  • Karan00719

    this writer knows no shit about writing