In November 2011, the Tamil-language song Why This Kolaveri Di became the most ‘searched’ YouTube video in India. Written for a movie, the song had not yet been released then, but a leaked version went viral after being posted on social media. The composer of the smash hit, Anirudh Ravichander, was only 21 years old when the song became an Internet phenomenon across Asia, prompting parodies even in Japan. The young man speaks to travel 3Sixty° about his passion for music and how he handles the expectations that come with being in the spotlight.
Compiled By: Chitra Santhinathan
WAS A CAREER IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY ON THE CARDS FOR YOU FROM DAY ONE?
I hail from a family of entertainers. My dad is an actor and my mother, a dancer (Anirudh is also the nephew of Indian superstar Rajnikanth), so a career in this industry came naturally to me.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE MUSIC INSTEAD OF ACTING?
I love music and that’s really the reason I’m in this industry. I’ve always, even from a young age, dreamt of becoming a music composer and making it big in the South Indian music industry. While many of my peers choose to be in front of the camera, I prefer composing songs in my studio.
HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU STARTED COMPOSING MUSIC?
I must’ve been about 10 years old when I composed my first piece and I’ve not stopped since. Recognition finally came when Why This Kolaveri Di became a hit in 2011.
HAS YOUR BACKGROUND IN CLASSICAL PIANO AND CARNATIC MUSIC INFLUENCED YOUR COMPOSITIONS?
I had the advantage of studying both forms of music and I believe my music is more expressive as a result. Carnatic music emphasises vocals and compositions are usually written to be sung. My background in both genres has allowed me to combine the best of both worlds in my music.
DID YOU EXPECT WHY THIS KOLAVERI DI TO BECOME AS BIG AS IT DID?
It was totally unexpected. In early November 2011, a leaked video of the song was posted on the Internet and it just went viral! It was actually honoured with a couple of awards by YouTube for receiving a large number of hits. Though the song written for the movie 3 was supposed to be released at a later date, it was officially released as a single later that month due to the overwhelming response.
DO YOU THINK THE SONG WOULD HAVE BEEN AS POPULAR WITHOUT YOUTUBE?
I was confident the song would grab people’s attention the minute we had recorded it. While I composed the music, popular Indian film actor Dhanush wrote the lyrics, which were about a guy who had been dumped by his girlfriend. I believe the song’s combination of catchy words and music and the fact that it was sung by Dhanush worked in its favour.
IS THERE PRESSURE TO REPLICATE THE SUCCESS OF WHY THIS KOLAVERI DI?
I don’t feel any pressure; in fact, I see opportunities to strive to be the best in my field. I’ve always had the faith of my fans, and I will do my best to deliver.
ANY CHALLENGES IN BEING A YOUNG COMPOSER?
Being young is an advantage. The music industry is constantly growing and there’s plenty of room for fresh, new ideas. I’m still learning every day, but being young gives me some advantage, especially when it comes to adapting industry trends.
DO YOU HAVE A ROUTINE WHEN IT COMES TO COMPOSING MUSIC?
I need quiet when I’m composing. The ideas flow when I’m all alone in the studio.
CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA?
In the future… if I get the chance!
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR ASPIRING COMPOSERS OUT THERE?
Be focused. Dreams do become reality. If you truly want to taste success, never give up, no matter what!
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