Where did you first read about the news of Mahendra Singh Dhoni quitting the limited-overs captaincy? Twitter? Facebook? WhatsApp? On the pages of Wisden India? Whatever may be the answer, chances are high that it was somewhere over the internet.
In this day and age of social media, such news goes ‘viral’ within minutes of breaking, and well, that holds true for almost everything – from music to videos to news.
One such video from Exhale Sports, a digital sports media company, is currently doing the rounds at over 1.2 million views in just six days on Facebook, and close to 90,000 views on YouTube.
The video, titled The King Kohli Rap – A Tribute to Virat Kohli, features three young artists from Mumbai who combine and improvise upon a couple of well-known bollywood tracks and some original rap in a eulogy to the Indian captain.
Wisden India caught up with the team – Chaitnya Sharma (the rapper), Priyanshu Painyuli (the second vocalist), Abhishek Saha (the percussionist), Adhaar Khurana (the director) and Parthiva Nagwekar (the director of photography) – for a candid chat. The session turned out to be almost as entertaining as their video. Excerpt:
How did this idea/collaboration come into being?
Chaitnya: The Exhale Sports guys wanted this to go up right after the news came in that Virat has become the (ODI) captain. But in the end, it was decided that it will be released just after the first game, because we expected him to do well. But bro, trust me, it was pure luck that the match turned out that way!
The Exhale Sports guys got in touch with Adhar, who was the director of the entire thing. Then he was the one who got us all on board, and it took shape from there.
So what do you guys do, are you professional musicians?
Priyanshu: Not at all, none of us are full time into music. We are all actors, doing theatre here in Mumbai.
How did the music start then?
Chaitnya: Well, I always had a thing for rap and hip hop music, so that’s where it all started. I have been writing my own songs, and it’s something that I have always enjoyed.
Priyanshu: I feel it really started with the plays that we did together. He (Abhishek) started doing beatboxing and adding percussion to some of our skits, which worked really well. So we knew we could do stuff like this together.
Who wrote the lyrics?
All fingers point towards Chaitnya at this moment.
Chaitnya: Yes, yes, I wrote it, though the chorus parts – we all sort of put it in together. Once we started, I think it took us two days to complete the full thing. From conception to end, it probably took us a week or so, but shooting was just a one-day thing.
Abhishek: We shot for three hours in the morning at around 6am, then did the rap part at around 10am, and then again went back at 6pm to do the last parts.
The guys you see in the video are all random people we found on Juhu beach, who probably don’t even know they are in this video! We had one camera, one DOP, one assistant – that’s all. We probably just looked like some random boys having fun on the beach.
Chaitnya: If I remember correctly, I wrote the song and sent it to Adhaar, and it was four minutes long. I was vomiting praise after praise about Kohli and then we had to really flesh it out and omit some parts.
Abhishek: The original idea was to have a two-minute piece. The first jam was fourminutes long, like he said, and the final one turned out to be just over three minutes in length.
Amongst all those witty lines, the ‘Fit as a fiddle, eight percent body fat hai’ part cracked a lot of people (including me) up…
Chaitnya: There is actually a story behind this. Not sure how true or false, but we found it pretty fascinating. I heard someone, I can’t remember who, told Kohli ‘Bro, you look so lean and all’. But he was like, ‘No man, I need to push myself more’. When the guy said, ‘Are you mad, you have something like eight percent body fat or something, man.’ And Kohli replied: ‘But Cristiano Ronaldo has seven percent.’
So let me guess, all you guys are hardcore cricket enthusiasts?
A loud bout of laughter rings across the room at this question before all eyes turn towards Abhishek.
Abhishek: No! I know nothing about cricket.
Chaitnya: Adhaar and I are huge, massive cricket fans. Like you know, that entire cricket-is-religion sort of a thing. But Abhishek’s not much into it. Priyanshu is a Bangalore boy, so he too follows the game.
The last part of the song, the Kohli-Kohli chant – Who’s plan was it to end it like that?
Priyanshu: The last line before that is Kohli-Kohli phir sara desh gayega, so I think it sort of blended in really well.
Abhishek: Exactly, and we sort of linked it like that in the end, and found it fitting perfectly.
Did you expect the kind of reaction you got within a day of releasing the video?
Abhishek: Not at all! To be honest, the first-day traffic was kind of low. And then suddenly it had 600k views in 48 hours! Phenomenal.
Priyanshu: Actually, it got spread through the day after the first ODI. It was released at 8pm on match day, and with the game panning out that way – I think it really helped.
Abhishek: I am not a cricket fan, like I told you, right. So when our song came out, I kept asking these guys, was the run-rate actually two and a half (referring to a line in the song)? They said no, but the end result sort of went well with our script, didn’t it?
So what is next?
Priyanshu: We have to do one on Sachin, I think. Dhoni is done. Kohli is done.
Chaitnya: All our friends are suggesting Yuvi, especially after that recent knock! We are so happy to see him back. So maybe him, who knows. We are all big fans of Yuvraj too!
Finally, do you think this video would make Kohli laugh if he saw it?
Chaitnya: It would be great if he sees the video, of course! Some of the guys commenting on the video link on Facebook are saying, “Arre, Kohli has pakka seen it, bro”. But honestly, we have no idea if he actually has. I don’t think he will personally share it or acknowledge it, since it will be like blowing his own trumpet kind of a thing, you know. But bas, I wish he sees it and enjoys it, that will be a great achievement for our tribute to who we feel is the best cricketer in the world!
With special thanks to Uday Jhala and Shiv Burman of Exhale Sports for co-ordinating the interview.