The first Indian video to cross 100 million YouTube views was a song composed by Anirudh and sung by a National Award-winning actor.
In this age of fast, cheap internet and greater penetration in Indian heartland, the views of YouTube videos have ballooned fast. 100 million is no longer the benchmark of virality that it once was. Many big film trailers breach this mark regularly and some even go to a billion views. But a decade back, 100 million views on YouTube was unthinkable. That is before a viral sensation did so and it had some unusual collaborators.
First Indian video with 100 million YouTube views
The year was 2012 and the song on everyone’s lips was a rap with gibberish Tanglish (Tamil-English) lyrics. It was called Why This Kolaveri Di and was composed by young debutant composer Anirudh Ravichander, who would, in time, go on to become the highest-paid and most sought-after music composer of the country. The man lending the voice to the video was no professional singer but a National Award-winning actor – Dhanush.
The story behind Why This Kolaveri Di
The song was part of director Aishwarya Rajinikanth’s debut film 3. Aishwarya, who was married to Dhanush, and was Anirudh’s cousin, wanted a light-hearted song on heartbreak, for which Anirudh composed a tune in 10 minutes. Dhanush himself wrote the lyrics in just 20 minutes using broken English and Tamil and almost zero grammar. The result was a nonsensical song that was a viral hit when it released in November 2011. Kolaveri (meaning murderous rage in Tamil) trended on Twitter for days and the video had 3.5 million views on YouTube in a week. In 2012, it became the first song from India to cross 100 million views on the platform.
How Kolaveri Di started the ‘soup song’ genre in Tamil cinema
Kolaveri Di was referred to as a soup song, derived from its opening line. The genre became popular in Tamil cinema after the song’s success. Several actors and composers tried to use nonsensical songs to promote their films as a gimmick. The trend was also criticised by cinephiles and music lovers as an insult to good music. The song was also criticised for promoting mysogyny and a culture of stalking women.