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It was absurd to start with, but by the time the ditty from the 1967 Tamil movie song Muthu kullika varingala (" Will you come pearl bathing with me" ) reached the lips of Mehmood and Asha Bhonsle, it had turned into gibberish. Muttu kodi kowadi hada? the comedian asked Aruna Irani in Do Phool.
It took six years for Muthu kulli to reach Bollywood but Kolaveri hit the country the same day and lost nothing in translation. Across the country, we got it hot off the recording studio thanks to the wonders of YouTube. With the social media pitching in, it went viral in no time, like those other dappangoothu (folksy dance) numbers - Naakka mukka and Appidi poddu.
Those who study the influence of the internet on culture say that it is too soon to celebrate this virtual integration. "This exposure to the South comes without any context. It is known as a fun song. There is no understanding in the North, for instance, that the song represents the same social genre as Prabudeva's Urvashi, Urvashi. They both register the hopeless yearning of a dark, disadvantaged young man for a fair, well-heeled woman from a very different world, " says research scholar Nishant Shah who heads the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore.
For instance, he points out, Shah Rukh reprised the Southern nerdy type in Ra. One. As for Carnatic music, the caricaturish, semi-villainous albeit totally lovable Master Pillai of Padosan still remains the popular idea of a Southern musician. He sported a tuft, said aiyyo and vango all the time, spoke with a thick accent, knew Bharatanatyam moves ... and lost to Kishore Kumar's Guru Vidyapati (from somewhere in the North) in the unforgettable Ek Chatur Naar.
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