OverPunjification Of Pop Media Is Why My Kolaveri, Di!


A kitschy Tanglish song has caught everyone’s fancy today. Kolaveri di has practically no Tamil words except those (translated to ‘desire to murder’). Everything else is English words in that characteristic Southern accent. The song isn’t any funnier or catchier than dozens of such that Kollywood and their bretheren have been spewing out in the past few years. Remember ‘Columbus, Columbus, vittachu leave’ from Jeans? Or ‘Mustafa, Mustafa, don’t worry Mustafa‘ from Kadhal Desam? And the iconic dance-atop-bus led by Prabhu Deva to Urvasi, Urvasi, take it easy Urvasi. Why then is this song gaining meme status? Why this kolaveri, indeed?

Bollywood has been the absolute last word on Indian pop culture for the past few years at least, and woefully inadequate in providing catchy references. I don’t see any reason a movie like Dabangg achieved such cult status, other than that the audience was fed to teeth with uber-urban metrosexual stories & 3-hr commercials for star kids & their brand affiliations. A good ol’ masala potboiler with a liberal dose of ‘leave your brains at home’ had to get lapped up by the masses starved of entertainment.

Dhanush at a function in chennai

In parallel, I think there’s also been an over-Punjification of popular media. Before hitting me with a barrage of protests (and abe teri to, paneer tikkasand open letters), consider this. Punjab is just one state in a diverse country. Its language and cultural references, only a certain proportion of a heterogeneous billion. Personally, I am a little sick of references to Kapoors, Khannas and Singhanias who celebrate karva chauth, whoop Balle balle or Chak de and dance the bhangda at every festive occasion. Bollywood is admittedly run by Punjabi film-makers but I think they’ve been very narrow in their creation, considering they represent the voice of an entire nation in pop culture.

For me, Singham stood out simply because it was refreshing to hear ‘Aai shapath‘ and ‘Saatakle majha‘. Similarly Kolaveri di tickles my fancy simply because it has a guy whose name can’t possibly be Vicky Malhotra and who references something other than khanakte chudi, parandas, goris and mahis.

And here’s the song now for your listening pleasure:

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4 thoughts on “OverPunjification Of Pop Media Is Why My Kolaveri, Di!

  1. Lakshmi November 24, 2011 at 00:48 Reply

    I remember thinking about the proliferation of Punjabi/North Indian characters in Bollywood cinema and then I was told by someone that it simply has to do with audience demographics. Simply put, who is watching? South Indian cinema is an entity of its own that doesn’t owe itself to Bollywood. It has its own cultural references, pop icons, music and idols. So why have South Indian characters in Bollywood? But then you have the horribly caricatured Shekhar Subramaniam (a.k.a. SRK) in Ra.One which makes me wish that film makers are better off sticking to Vicky Malhotra, Rahul Kapoor and other stereotypes.

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  2. […] reader sent in a link to this YouTube clip that replies to this month’s net-rage. It’s not as catchy as the original Kolaveri Di but it deserves a watch. I especially love-u […]

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  3. […] you think Rajnikant and Kolaveri-di is all we’re about? Wilbur Sargunaraj is the unsung thalaivar of the land of software […]

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