Neha Patil (Editor)

Why This Kolaveri Di

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Released  16 November 2011
Length  4:09
Writer(s)  Dhanush
Format  Digital download
Label  Sony Music
Recorded  2011 at AM Studios, Chennai

"Why This Kolaveri Di" (English: Why This Killing rage, Girl?) is a song from the soundtrack of the 2012 Tamil psychological thriller film, 3. The song is written and sung by Dhanush, and composed by Anirudh Ravichander.


The song was officially released on 16 November 2011 and instantly became viral on social networking sites for its quirky "Tanglish" (portmanteau word of Tamil and English) lyrics. Soon, the song became the most searched YouTube video in India and an internet phenomenon across Asia. Within a few weeks, YouTube honoured the video with a '"Recently Most Popular" Gold Medal award and "Trending" silver medal award for receiving a large number of hits in a short time. Following its huge success and nationwide popularity Dhanush, the singer of the original track was invited by then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh as a "Guest of Honour".


According to composer Anirudh Ravichander, 3's director Aishwarya Rajinikanth Dhanush wanted a light-hearted song about love failure. Ravichander quickly composed the tune in about 10 minutes. Dhanush then began working on the lyrics, which he completed in about 20 minutes of brainstorming. The first line he sang was "Why This Kolaveri?" which means "Why do you have this murderous rage against me girl?" The question, however, is not intended seriously.

In a party to The Times of India, Dhanush said: "When I was writing down the lyrics, I kept in mind all the English words that are used in the Tamil vocabulary. Words like I, you, me, how, why, cow. I just framed them into sentences and thats how I came up with the song." Dhanush sang the song in broken English, as a Tamil person might if his knowledge of English was limited. The song is also called a 'Soup' song, where 'Soup' is a colloquial Tamil word which refers to young men experiencing love failure after a beautiful relationship.

The song was recorded at A. R. Rahman's AM Studios in Chennai. The song was officially released after it was known to become popular after an accidental release on to the internet.


A downtempo song, "Why This Kolaveri Di" has been built around an ancient south Indian folk rhythm using ancient folk instruments. He used the nadaswaram, shehnai, saxophone urumee and thavil drums, acoustic guitar, keyboards mixed with electronic synths and scratches. The instruments utilize the singing style of Tamil folk culture. The composer added a crescendo to make the instrumentation become more layered].

The words of the song are in a simple form of Tanglish, a mixture of Tamil and English. The song creates an imagery of an Indian boy who has gone through love failure. While singing, Dhanush creates a tone of being drunk, when he repeatedly asks why she hurt him. The words have been described as "nonsensical" by some and an evocation of "Tamil street humour". Dhanush has stated that the choice of words he chose lyrics allows it to be a very relatable song.

Music video

The music video features Dhanush singing the song at AM studios, accompanied by composer Anirudh on a keyboard. His co-star Shruti Haasan and the director of 3, Aishwarya Rajinikanth are seen listening in the background. The video was recorded by Abinandhan Ramanujam

The video of the song in the film, 3, was filmed in a set made to replicate the crowded shopping street of Chennai Marina beach. The video featured Dhanush and Sunder Ramu along with other extras singing the song, while Shruti Haasan makes an appearance towards the end of the video.

Release and reception

Upon release, the hashtag #kolaveri topped the Indian trends in Twitter on the evening of 21 November 2011. Within a week of the official release of the video, it received more than 3.5 million views on YouTube, more than 1 million shares on Facebook, while trending in India on Twitter the whole time. The song is also a hit among non-Tamils, apparently due to the Tanglish lyrics. By 30 November 2011, it had more than 10,500,000 YouTube views. By the start of 2012, it had crossed 30 million YouTube views. The song and versions of it account for more than 75 million of YouTube's total views. The song became the top downloaded song on mobile with 4,100,000 downloads within the first 18 days of release. On 24 November 2011, this song became the first Tamil film song to premier on MTV India.

Imitations and parodies of this song have been created, including versions in different Indian languages, a female version, and versions about current events at that time. Why this kolaveri di became CNN's Top Song in 2012. Its rapid spread to nightclubs and discos in Tokyo, Japan were reported soon after release, and a viral video of Japanese women dancing to it spread soon afterwards. Police officers in India used versions of the song and its title to combat road rage and encourage bike riders to wear helmets. The popularity of the song was also reported by international media like BBC and Time magazine, who attributed its major crossover world appeal to its universal theme, catchy tune and unique lyrics. Top business schools like Indian Institutes of Management conducted studies to figure out the popularity of this song. The song has inspired flashmobs in Chennai, Mumbai, Groningen and Auckland.

The song was performed live by Dhanush in his first-ever live performance at the 2011 BIG Star Entertainment Awards.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited Dhanush for the dinner party along with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in his New Delhi residence, India. The political parties Bharatiya Janata Party and Indian National Congress used variants of the song in their campaigns for 2012 assembly elections.

Kolaveri Di also echoed at Beating, the Retreat ceremony (a ceremony which is a part of Republic Day celebrations in India).


Javed Akhtar, a poet, lyricist and scriptwriter predominantly working in Bollywood, and a professional critic of cultural phenomenon full of his own self-importance,slammed the song for its insult to sensibility. In April 2012, a petition was filed in the Kerala High Court seeking a ban on the song citing negative influence on children, claiming to inciting violence and aggression.


  • When the video was released, the hashtag #kolaveri was trending on Twitter for three continuous days.
  • The video was shared by 1.4 million people, liked by 1.8 million people and received more than 1.1 million comments.
  • The video reached the milestone of most searched video on YouTube by November 21, 2011.
  • The song was played on US radio station KZYX FM by Mister X, on his show, "Music Out of Bounds" soon after its November 2011 release on YouTube.
  • The video received a YouTube Gold Award in the same month.
  • Cover and parody versions

    Arjun Coomaraswamy

    An R&B version by up and coming London-based artist Arjun Coomaraswamy was uploaded on YouTube December 10, 2011 and received 1.5 million views within a week.

    Nevaan Nigam

    A "milk version" of the song by Sonu Nigam's son became popular on YouTube, and was acknowledged by actor Dhanush, who stated "I'm in love with Nevaan Nigam's version of Kolaveri Di. Great idea Sonu Nigam". A feature of this version was to replace the word 'scotch' with 'milk'.

    Regarding the 2G Scam of India: A popular version of Kolaveri Di was released for parody with the lyrics "Why is Kanimozhi in"

    Geo TV Pakistan

    The song "Where is Democracy Di" was aired by Geo TV on its popular programme Hum Sab Umeed Sai Hein, a popular satire in Pakistan on Geo TV which is aimed at exposing the wrongdoing of the government in a lighter vein was based on Why This Kolaveri Di.

    BJP and Goa Elections 2012

    Abeer Vajpayee, a journalist turned BJP worker, wrote, composed and sung a parody of the Kolaveri Di targeting the corruption and gross financial mismanagement under UPA regime. This song called 'Why This Hera Pheri Ji' became an instant hit on YouTube as it featured mimicry of leaders like Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Anna Hazare, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Amar Singh and Akshay Kumar. All male voices were done by Vajpayee himself and effect of only female voice of Sonia Gandhi was by his wife Ruchi.

    Vishnu Wagh, veteran poet who joined BJP, penned the lyrics which have been fitted in the "Kolaveri di" tune. The song has been changed from "Kolaveri di" to "Kamlawari di" to include the party's election symbol lotus. The recorded version is meant for Goa elections 2012.

    Chennai city traffic police campaign on road rage

    KravMaga instructor Sree Ram created an outdoor campaign on road rage, which was noted by media across the world.

    Safety campaigns organised by Kolkata Police

    'Kolaveri di' to 'dadagiri di'

    Sertab Erener

    Turkish pop music singer covered the song as "Söz" (Turkish: Promise) for her "Sade" album in 2013, with lyrics written by Nil Karaibrahimgil. She released the music video for the song in 2014.

    Özcan Deniz and Sıla

    Turkish arabesque music singer Özcan Deniz and pop music singer Sıla covered the song as "Aç Bir Coca-Cola" for Coca-Cola commercial in 2015. The commercial also resembles the scenes from the movie "3".


    Why This Kolaveri Di Wikipedia

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