Anirudh Ravichander on stage in Bercy (Paris) on 04 December 2022. Credit: Sixtine Leppert

Kollywood in Paris

On Sunday 04 December at Bercy (Paris), the Tamil diaspora was on hand for singer-songwriter Anirudh Ravichander’s concert.

In the crowd, the Tamil star’s fans are getting impatient. The concert has already been delayed by more than two hours. But when the singer’s arrival is announced, the Bercy arena begins to shake and the delay is completely excused. In a few seconds, the stadium lights up with thousands of phones in the air so as not to miss anything of Anirudh Ravichander’s arrival.

Anirudh Ravichander, 32, is one of the well-known singers and composers of the Kollywood film industry from the Tamil Nadu region in southern India. On Spotify in 2022, the Tamil singer has accumulated over one billion downloads, making him the fourth most listened artist in India.

Well-known for composing many successful Tamil film scores, Ravichander’s audience extends beyond India, with listeners in over 180 countries. Anirudh is currently touring Europe on his Once Upon A Time Tour. Less than 48 hours after his concert at the Wembley Arena in London, Anirudh was on stage at the Accor Arena, formerly known as Bercy.

Anirudh Ravichander on stage in Bercy (Paris) on 04 December 2022. Credit: Sixtine Leppert

A booked arena despite the price

Almost all 20,300 seats of Accor Arena were sold out, despite a late promotion. On 16 November, less than a month before his performance in the famous concert hall, singer-songwriter Anirudh had announced on his social networks that the ticket office was open.

Before the event, the hashtag #Anirudhparis was taken up on Tiktok and Twitter by hundreds of users complaining about the high cost of tickets. Despite the singer’s popularity, many fans said they could not afford the €300 tickets.

After negotiations between the distributor in charge of promoting the event and concert organisers, the price of the remaining tickets was eventually reduced, to the delight of Anirudh’s fans.

It is not the first time Anirudh has performed in France. The star’s fans, the vast majority of whom belong to the Indian Tamil community, had already gathered for his concert at the Zenith in Paris in 2018.

Although there are no official statistics on an ethnic or linguistic basis, nearly 125,000 Tamils are said to live in metropolitan France, thus contributing to the influence of Tamil culture beyond this region of southern India and northern Sri Lanka.

Tamil music industry, intimately linked to Kollywood

Tamil culture is also strongly marked, both in India and in France, by the Kollywood film industry. In competition with the Hindi Bollywood industry, Tamil films are more moralistic and regularly deal with deep-rooted societal issues, such as the caste system or corruption.

Just like the choice of actors, the choice of music has a real impact on movies’ success in this industry. As the reporter Charles Haquet explained in an interview with L’Express, « When a film is ready, a month before its release, the music is presented to the public, so that the spectators have time to appropriate the songs and learn them by heart. […] Then we hope that these songs will become hits because the more they are known, the more the film will benefit from them”.

In the same way, music is a big hit if the movie is well received by the audience. This connection between Kollywood and the Tamil music industry also explains Ravichander’s success-story. « Anirudh has real talent but the film industry helped him, it was a musical springboard for him to be recognised as a great artist, » said a group of Anirudh’s fans after his concert at Bercy.

Towards an independent Tamil music industry?

midst superstars like Anirudh, independent Tamil artists try to make it in the industry. « I notice that more and more independent Tamil artists are increasingly becoming known. The pattern is changing in the sense that artists are releasing albums without necessarily making films, » said Cedric, who attended Anirudh’s concert.

Tamil artist TeeJay Arunasalam became famous in 2013 with his music Aasai, but has since joined the Kollywood industry. TeeJay’s career path is a message of hope for unsung artists, who all dream of composing for the Kollywood industry with millions of fans across the world.

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