Santhosh Narayanan produced the viral ‘Enjoy Enjaami’ by Dhee featuring Arivu, now clocking over 250 million views on YouTube. In this interview with Baradwaj Rangan, he talks about the process of producing the song, right from the initial version that everyone around him hated to the catchy and layered song that we hear now. Edited Excerpts…
In most of the songs, the tune is composed and the lyricist comes in and fills it with words. How did it happen with ‘Enjoy Enjaami’? Did Arivu write the lyrics first? Or was it mutual?
Initially, I had an idea and I was hell bent about the music. I loved it so much. Dhee is someone who can’t fake anything and she didn’t like it at all. At times, I was forcing her to like it. I heard that she went to Meenakshi [Iyer] and told her that she can’t work with me anymore because I was enforcing my views on her (laughs). Then Arivu came in, and he didn’t like it either. He couldn’t fake it and I was wondering if I had become too old for independent music. Then I went and composed fresh music. And they all loved it.
We constructed the song on top of the groove. Musically, the whole song took me less than two hours to do the entire structure that you hear now. We had, I think one of Beyonce’s tracks where she talks about roots and the life of tribals. It’s a famous song, I’m sorry I forget it’s name now. I had the video running on another monitor and synced ‘Enjoy Enjaami’ to its speed. I sent it to my best friend and one of the greatest directors in Indian cinema, Manikandan. He too felt that this was better than my earlier idea. So, that’s how we started.
I felt that working on the song was so much fun, I wanted the song to encompass all of life. Arivu suggested the idea that the world is for all forms of life and that we should celebrate it. We aren’t specifically talking about any form of oppression or lack of equality. But instead, we are talking about all of life. That was a great input from him. The lyrics of the song reflect that.
We then tried to do a comedy rap on top of this. At one point, Arivu reworked his paati rap. When he sang it like an old woman, it was hilarious. He said he could talk about his own roots in the song and about his grandmother Valliammal. I was so blown away by the idea. But we also wanted to make sure it gelled well with the song.
Finally, the song was recorded in no time. But we recorded a lot of different versions of it. In the end, we were happy with what we had in our hand. I’ve never reworked a film song so much. Because once the director liked it, I wouldn’t want to waste more time on it. In the film world, it’s complete chaos if you wanted to change the lyric, for example.
At the end of the song’s shooting, many of us felt that even after listening to the song hundreds of times during the shoot we still found an emotive connection with it. And we wished that people would connect to the song even after multiple listens. I’ve never spoken about the song to anyone. I didn’t even expect I would be talking about it to the media. I’m doing it because of you and I’m very happy that it’s connecting with people.
It even has connected with toddlers; the song might shape the way they look at life. That’s the biggest success of any song. Arivu has written it so well and with Dhee’s voice connecting with people, I’m so happy. And we’re always going to try to give back and find more artists that are yet to be found.