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Whistle Podu! How Kollywood lent weapons of mass gizmo to CSK

On April 6, 2018, Chennai Super Kings released their much-awaited theme song for the 11th IPL season. The 1 minute 37 second theme song, which is titled “WhistlePodu”, has many emotional reverberations associated with it as it marks the team’s return to IPL after a blackout of two years. Two guys are seen sitting at the editing table with footages of the theme song with MS Dhoni and other players in the opening shots. The footage kickstarts with a clichéd lower angle "hero's legs" intro shot. But, the two guys at the table are pushing themselves for a more massive entry for the captain and his teammates and are not satisfied with the outcome.

Then, Dhoni take things into his hand, saying, “Let’s take our music. Start the whistles.” The video then cuts to its iconic theme song “Chennai Super Kingsku Periya Whistle Adinga, Enga Ooru Chennaiku Periya Whistle Adinga Enga.” Two years are a big gap in a rapidly changing playbiz environment like IPL. But, for a team like CSK, which has eight editions of rocking galleries, grabbing the IPL title twice and the Champions League twice, the wait seems worthy. But, apart from the usual promotional gimmicks and tactics, the most important force that kept CSK spirit alive is the Whistle Podu Army, one of the most passionate fan clubs in IPL.

It is interesting to explore the weapons of mass gizmo Kollywood lent the CSK, as the theme song features in the opening shots. The Whistle podu army has been using such interesting filmy tactics and inspiration profusely from 2008, when the theme song “Chennai Super Kingsku Periya Whistle Adinga” was first released. CSK is the only IPL franchise, which has incorporated cinematic symbolism and stylistic patterns from the mainstream film industry in its home state. Tamil cinema has been a strong driving force for the team’s campaigns from 2008.

From the theme song to fan made tributes, unofficial anthems, and memes, Dhoni and his boys reincarnate as silver screen gods who can deliver what the fans want them to do. Dhoni is fondly called “Thala”, a moniker of Ajith and stands for captain at the same time, in so many promotional stuffs repeatedly. He is also presented reminiscent of many Vijay and Ajith intro dance sequences. Moreover, the theme song is peppy for its high octane use of dappangutthu drum beats. The fan made anthems are also vibrating with the energy of Tamil rapping and drum beats.

Dhoni appears speaking Tamil dialogues as if he is a cool hero in one of the popular Tamil flicks. The emotional connection established between the team and the fans with weapons of mass Tamil movies as an intermediary helped CSK to inspire and retain the fan base through crests and troughs. The emotional appeal was rooted so deep that when the team was suspended for two years from IPL, the Whistle Podu Army was heartbroken and the shock left several fans in tears. 

For many members of the army, it was like a loss in the family. When Dhoni and his boys appeared dancing to the tunes of a recharged Whistle podu, it was just a matter of time for the yellow brigade to rise from ashes. The anthem went on to become viral instantly with the hashtags #WhistlePodu, #Yellove and #SummerIsHere are taking their rounds on the social media platforms.

The filmy symbolism of whistle and the stylistic adaptations like introducing Dhoni and his boys as mass heroes worked in favour of CSK and earned them one of the most dedicated fan armies. As long as CSK sticks onto the cinematic tools of delivering chill and thrill, the magic of fandom will favour it, because if you want to convey anything, or rather everything, close to your heart, you have to say it in the language of cinema in this part of the world. When IPL starts rolling with bikes, buses and cars from the streets of T Nagar to Marina Beach are soaked in yellow, Thala Dhoni and his boys have a sea of drums in waiting, as we do in theaters. Yes, the Whistlers are back, so is the Chennai Super Kings.



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