Until a few days ago, Arunraja Kamaraj was just another artiste in the Tamil film industry. He has made fleeting appearances in movies like Raja Rani and Maan Karate and written lyrics for over 15 Tamil films. His voice is familiar to the Tamil audiences after the ‘Ding Dong’ number from Jigarthanda.
Yet, he hasn’t really been noticed until now.
“Nobody knows I’ve done so much work so far, though most of my songs were hits. Now they are all looking up my name, that’s what’s changed for me after ‘Neruppu Da',” explains Arunraja Kamaraj, the voice behind the already hit intro song from Rajinikanth’s upcoming film Kabali.
The teaser of the film released on 1 May, has already received over 22 million views beating many Bollywood films including Salman Kahan’s Sultan and Aamir Khan’s PK. 'Neruppu Da', has been topping charts on iTunes as well as on almost all local FM radio channels. A video teaser of the song uploaded on YouTube by Think Music on Thursday, has taken the internet by storm, garnering well over a million views overnight.
The song picturised on Rajinikanth is said to mark his entry during an important situation in the movie. “Ranjith (the director) told me this was a song about a people’s leader, who’s come back to ease their suffering. He told me to imagine the superstar on screen and write the lyrics,” reveals Arunraja, who has also penned the lyrics.
'Neruppu Da' is peculiar as an introduction song of a Rajinikanth movie that has not been sung by SP Balasubrahmanyan, as is customary. “We are also feeling SPB’s absence, but it’s the director and the music director who decide. Also at that time SPB sir was not in town,” responds Kalaippuli S Thanu, the film’s producer.
The lacklustre performance of Rajiinikanth’s earlier films Kochadaiyaan and Lingaa had posed several questions about the star’s financial viability, but the popularity of the teasers seems to have heartened those in the industry. “There has been an extraordinary response. Never has any movie touched this record. So everybody is happy,” beams Kalaippuli S Thanu.
Think Music, the label which has picked up the audio rights of the film in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi for about Rs 3 crores, also seems hopeful of tidy returns from audio sales and online revenues. “We have always looked at Rajinikanth as the pilot or the backbone of the project. We didn’t even get into details of who the other singers were, and did not even listen to the songs before buying the music,” Swaroop Reddy, Director of Think Music says hinting that it’s still Rajinikanth’s star power that drives the sales.
Rajinikanth films still command a lion’s share of music revenues compared to any other South Indian star, a fact that is evident in Kabali’s case too. “People are very happy with the film’s audio as we are getting fresh orders every day,” divulges Thanu.
Though the CD and DVD sales have seen a huge dip in the recent years, the sales have been relatively good for Kabali according to Swaroop Reddy. “We find that there’s still a market for CDs and DVDs, because it’s a Rajinikanth project. We find it doing much better than it’s done recently,” he points out. “In recent times, no album has done anywhere closer to this. It’s a blockbuster for sure. Take the audio version of 'Neruppu Da' for example. It’s already got 4 million views—that’s a lot more than any song of any other actor,” he sums up.
The makers of Kabali are now gearing up to release the music of the film’s Hindi version next week. The Hindi teaser too is slotted for release online today. Rajinikanth, who is in the US with his family is expected only around the end of the month and hence the Hindi audio will most likely have a soft launch too.
Kalaippuli Thanu clarifies on rumours around Rajinikanth’s ill-health, “He (Rajinikanth) called me at 6:42 in the morning. I missed his call. Then I called him back. He told me that he was happy that we released the audio at a time when such rumours are afloat.”
Estimated to have been made at a budget of Rs 110 crores, Thanu is confident that the movie will rake in over Rs 300 crores. Kabali will also have a huge opening with over 5000 theatres in the country expected to screen the film. “We are also dubbing the film in many languages including Malay and Thai,” elaborates Kalaippuli Thanu.
Notably, Malaysian actor Rosyan Nor plays an important role in the film. Taiwanese actor Winston Chao also makes an appearance as a villain. Kabali’s makers are also looking at giving it a big release in Hong Kong and China. Kabali will release in July and the exact date will be announced once it is certified.
Watch 'Neruppa Da' here: