Interview with the creators of Whistle Podu

Aravind-Shankar, mPower the marketing blog of IIM KozhikodeAravind -Shankar ( Aravind Murali and Jaishankar Iyer), are a music composer duo from Chennai. They are currently working on the music for an upcoming Telugu film called Ishq. When they launched Whistle Podu for Chennai Super Kings early in the first season they had no idea that it would attain the cult status it does today. In this tweet–à-tête with Tony Sebastian, Aravind Murali notorious as @onejubb on twitter for his quirky humour tells us about the story behind Whistle Podu and well of course, channels his inner Dhoni

Q) Welcome to the mPower blog and thanks for giving us this opportunity. We can’t wait to start and get to know the story behind the brilliant “Whistle Podu” song.

The guys from the ad agency that handles CSK one day came to us with the intention of doing some king of a fun trippy music video, with almost no budget at all. It was at first intended only for YouTube. We then thought of doing a whistle thing since it was a very Chennai thing and then came up with the term whistle podu. We then went ahead and composed and recorded the track the next day with a friend – DJ Ravi on the vocals. Everyone loved it and it went on YouTube.  It was only the very next year that it got some sort of mainstream appeal.

Q) How exciting was it to work for a Chennai cricket team with global viewership?

Well, of course I’m a huge cricket fan and play for a little league team. So, working for CSK and being involved with cricket was naturally fun. Our work with CSK was limited to just one session where we recorded some of the players whistling. I think it was Parthiv Patel, Suresh Raina, Manpreet Gony, Joginder Sharma and Sudip Tyagi. Of course I didn’t get to go to any of the world famous IPL after parties. That would have made it much more fun. There were many Russians there apparently.

Q) Over the years there have been a lot of inaccurate portrayals of Chennai, the Tamil movie industry and culture in general in Bollywood movies and popular culture. Whistle Podu is perhaps the only video watched by the whole of India which captures the actual spirit of Chennai. Could you explain a little more about the spirit behind Whistle Podu?

It’s a very street thing to do out here. It’s an integral part of a dappangutthu song or dance. Some communities also dance furiously and whistle hard at their funeral processions on the streets. Needless to say they are smashed out of their skulls. The step was an invention of the choreographer of the video. It’s an extension of the regular dappangutthu dance step where you fold your lungi so that your underpants extend longer. By the way, nobody says “whistle podu” in Tamil. It’s always “whistle adi”. So this term was an invention of sorts.

Q) Whistle Podu is an entertaining and engaging music video. The later versions of Whistle Podu call for fans to send in their whistling and dancing videos so that they may be incorporated into the video. We’ve also seen improv videos by fans in various places. Was there a fundamental idea to create such a piece which would bring about crowd participation of such levels or was it just a by-product of creating a song that resonated strongly with the target audience?

Yes there was. We discussed about getting the public to participate at the conception stage itself. And we thought that getting people to whistle for CSK would be a fun and easy way to get them going. It seems to have worked out well.

Q) A video that goes viral is a tremendous boon for the brand and its creators. In the era of twitter and co-creation do you think that increased fan participation is what can ensure the “going-viral” of such a piece? I’m sure you have observed on twitter yourself how a bad pun or joke gets appended with a hashtag and before you know it there is a huge crowd-created collection of jokes that take over twitter itself.

I don’t know if anything can “ensure” that a piece goes viral. But if fans don’t make it viral then no one can ,so getting them to participate is a good way. That said ,the piece itself should have some kind of inherent quirk and uniqueness to it that gets them going .

Q) What do you think about Whistle Podu – the first of its kind B-school event at Backwaters 2011?

Definitely looks like a fun event and am thrilled that the name is being used. Who knows, maybe some of the solutions from the event might actually help CSK actually become one of the most valuable sporting brands in the world.

Q) Thanks Aravind for this interview and wish you and Shankar the very best for your future endeavours

Thanks Tony, the pleasure was all ours. All the best to all participants of Whistle Podu at Backwaters 2011

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