Kolaveri Di composer goes to IIM-A
Ever since 21-year-old Anirudh Ravichander composed the song Kolaveri Di for the film 3, he has become a sensation all over India.
After making the Sachin anthem, a tribute to the master blaster, with Dhanush and Anushka Shetty, Anirudh was off to IIM (Indian Institute of Management), Ahmedabad, along with the Tamil actor, to give a lecture on what made Kolavedi Di such a huge success.
And then it was Tirupathi, to pay obeisance to the presiding deity and ask for His blessings. Anirudh spoke to Shobha Warrier from Tirupathi.
What was your initial reaction when you got a call from IIM-Ahmedabad to give a lecture there?
I thought it was a prank call. Even in my wildest dreams, I was not expecting a call from IIM-A.
They told me that they wanted both Dhanush (who sings the song) and me to give lectures. We were not equipped to give lectures to the students of IIM-A. I am not even of an age to apply to an IIM!
What did they ask you to talk about? The success of Kolaveri?
Yes, they primarily wanted us to talk about Kolaveri, how we made the song,and how it became a massive hit.
Image: Dhanush and Anirudh at IIM-A
Photographs: Anirudh Ravishankar
'I was not expecting a call from IIM-A'
Did you go prepared with a speech?
Yes, we prepared our own speeches because we thought we would have to do it in a very formal way. But after going there, we realised that it was more of an informal meeting.
Those present were so receptive to us that it was fun. We threw away our speeches and spoke extempore and mainly answered their questions.
What was in your mind when you stood on the podium in front of the students?
I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and the experience would remain in my mind for a long, long time.
Actually, my dad always wanted me to go to an IIM. He used to say, I know you won't get an 'A' but at least try B or C!
When I told him that I was going to give a lecture at IIM-A, he was shocked! I indeed shocked him! It was a pleasant surprise for him.
Image: Anirudh and Dhanush
'My dad always wanted me to go to an IIM'
Were you nervous?
I was not nervous. Because of this one song, for the last two months we have been going to so many places and talking about it. So, we were not nervous.
The moment we got onto the podium, there was a standing ovation. Dhanush spoke first for about 20 minutes, and then I spoke for about 15 minutes.
I said how thankful I am to everyone. I also spoke about how viral marketing had taken the world by storm. I said that I was not old enough to talk about marketing to the students of IIM-A but I explained how it affected my life.
When crores of rupees are spent on item numbers, we spent Rs. 1000 on tea and coffee and made the song.
After that, it was a question and answer session.
What kind of questions did they ask?
They were quite different from what we had been asked till then. There were a lot of serious and also funny questions. One question was, 'if Rajnikanth's film were to release with yours, what would be your marketing strategy?'
We were stumped and had no answers for many of the questions. Whenever we had no answer, we felt we shouldn't have come to IIM! (laughs)
Image: Dhanush and Anirudh with the students of IIM-A
'We had no time to organise an audio launch'
Which question stumped you?
One interesting question to me was whether the song was a success because of my music or Dhanush's singing. I gave a very diplomatic answer--that it was because of God.
If that is the diplomatic answer, what would be the undiplomatic answer?
Because of both the reasons (laughs) .
What was the first question to you?
How old I was and what should be done to become famous. I said, you people are intellectually on a much higher plane than me and if you continue to do what you are doing, you will be famous!
They also asked about royalties. They wanted to know how much money we made now that the song is so famous. I had to explain how it functions in India. Unlike in the west, here, there is no royalty.
There was a lot of discussion about viral marketing and how important are social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter etc. They wanted to know how we can market something without spending money.
Image: Dhanush and Anirudh
'I believe in destiny'
Did they ask you why you decided to release the song online?
They did ask us that. We told them that we had no other choice. When the song was leaked on the Internet, we had to think of something urgently. We had no time to organise an audio launch. When we realised that the song was stolen and was leaked, we were in a panic. Then, Sony decided to market it on YouTube.
It was not a planned decision. If it was, it would have gone the usual way. By the grace of God, it worked wonders for us.
Do you believe in destiny?
One hundred percent! After this, my belief in God has gone up multifold. Whatever way you look at it, it is a miracle. A song that was made for the south Indian audience has become an international one. How else do you explain this?
Today, our Sachin Anthem has been uploaded on YouTube. It is doing extremely well.
When you told the IIM students that it was all because of the blessings of God that the song became popular, did they agree with you?
They did. Everybody knows that there is an unseen force that is behind it. I am sure everyone understands that. There is no explanation behind a song being liked by 45 million people from all parts of the world.
Image: Anirudh interacts with the students at IIM-A
'There are a lot of offers from many languages'
Did you ask them what according to them are the reasons for its success?
I did. They had different opinions. One said it was the lyrics, another said, it was the tune. The director of the institute said the rhythm was catchy. Another person said the tune is very simple. According to another, the lyrics are funny.
It shows you can't just zero it down to any one reason. It is a combination of many reasons.
What is your next project?
As of now, I have not signed any. There are a lot of offers from many languages but I want to complete the background score of 3 first. The film has come out very well.
After that, I will weigh the options before making the correct choice. I want to be very careful.
'If you want to be in the world, you have to sacrifice your privacy'
How has life changed after Kolaveri?
It is very nice and also it is a disadvantage. The first few days were fantastic. You feel so happy when people recognise you and ask for autographs.
After some time, you realise that you have lost your privacy. Today, I was fast asleep on the flight to Tirupati and somebody woke me up to take a photo with me.
I understand that if you want to be in the world, you have to sacrifice your privacy. Of course, I am loving it. I hope I can live up to the expectations.
You are at Tirupati now. Is it a thanksgiving trip?
Yes. When I started working on the film, I came here and shaved my head. I prayed then that once the album releases, I will come back and shave my head if it's a hit. And here I am!
Image: Dhanush and Anirudh