And Now... A South Indian Dance Extravaganza!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010
It’s finally finished! My ode to the wonders of South Indian (specifically Tamil and Telugu) film dancing! Enjoy this little compilation (er, EXTRAVAGANZA!) of the collective awe-inspiring massalicious moves of Bharath, NTR Jr, Prabhas, Vikram, Mahesh Babu, Lawrence, Vijay, and Prabhu Deva (and a smidgen of Arya!).

Someone’s name conspicuously absent, you ask? Well, I figured since Bunny had an entire video of his own I should give the stage to some of the other fantastic Tolly/Kollywood dancers. :D And there just wasn’t enough room for Ram Charan, Gopichand, or Ram, and really I was limited to what I had in my DVD collection for all these boys.

I’ve never before fully appreciated Bharath’s dancing- he does the lungi-wearing everyman street-style perfectly, and while he’s not conventionally handsome he has the charm laid on thick! He dances with his whole heart! NTR Jr of course is a fabulous dancer, but I found myself gravitating towards his earlier massy crap films where he’s much stockier and the choreography is hilarious. How can you not love it?! Seriously, I was smiling and cracking myself up through the entire editing process. Get his earlier films. Just for the songs. You’ll thank me later.

If you’re curious about the films these songs are from (which is part of the point here, to spread the southie love!) here’s a list:
  • NTR Jr – Andhrawala, Kantri, Yamadonga, Ashok, Samba,
  • Prabhas – Bujjigadu, Billa, Munna, Pournami, Chatrapathi, Ragavendra, Varsham
  • Bharath – Chennai Kadhal, Emtan Magan, Koodal Nagar, Pattiyal, Veyil, Azhagai Irukkirai Bayamai Irukkirathu
  • Mahesh Babu – Pokiri, Athadu
  • Vijay – Pokkiri, Sachein, Shahjahan
  • Lawrence – Style, Pandi
  • Vikram – Dhool, Gemini, Arul
  • Prabhu Deva – Minsara Kanavu, Pokkiri
This is where I now blab about the virtual blood, sweat, and tears involved in bringing me to near-insanity whilst putting this 720p shindig together (which looks soooooo much better than poor Bunny's!). I’d like to thank the following programs for simultaneously pissing me off and wowing me: Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD, Handbrake, Audacity, AoA DVD Ripper, Total Video Converter, Replay Media Catcher, and all the software, codecs, and other insanely complicated things I tried. I’m so proud of myself for figuring out how to make NTR Jr’s crap 1.33 aspect ratio DVDs look like widescreen, deinterlaced marvels. Note to all you Sony Vegas users out there- if the program is crashing lest you even breathe on it wrong and says anything about memory, read this tip. This saved MY UNIVERSE because until the 11th hour it looked like all the hours I’d spent copying and cutting and clipping and pasting and mixing on this thing were completely wasted.

Last, the music! Again, I have no idea what they are singing, haha. Hopefully it’s not too trashy. :) Here’s the mix:
  • “Gira Gira” from Sowram (Telugu)
  • “Dhakku Dhakku” from Shankam (Telugu)
  • “Daddy Mummy” from Villu (Tamil)
  • “Sexy Lady” from Ninaithale Inikkum (Tamil)
  • “Raja Maharaja” from Ganesh (Telugu)


  1. WHOO-HOO!!!That was AWESOME! I'm totally in awe of your editing skills, seriously. So cool!

  2. Fabulous! I loved it especially all the NTR clips. I am seriously addicted to his dancing have only seen Ashok and Andhrawala but Yama Donga is next on my Netflix queue. Please post it on the appropriate threads on BW? Really awesome video. you did a great job.

  3. That is wonderful, you did a great job! I love NTR but have only seen him in his newer movies -- I didn't realize he could move like that even when he was heavier!

    And now excuse me, I have a dozen new movies to add to my Netflix queue...

  4. Brilliant as usual.

    Love love the kuthu dances with Bharath, Vijay Vikram. Ntr, what can I say? Thanks for sharing Minai.

    re Bharath,he is great in rural films, I still can't seem to appreciate him in other roles.

  5. ajnabi - thanks! video editing is hard work, I've learned! :D

    jjake- I know, isn't NTR Jr just so charming to watch? That goofy smile! I did post the video on this BollyWhat thread:

    Louella - thanks! you made my day (because it's day on this side of the pond, you know) ;)

    Emily - Yes! It's stunning how fast NTR Jr can move despite being so heavy. :D Definitely recommend the dances in Samba, which I'm pretty sure Netflix has!

    filmizest - Yes, the kuthu! Though I have to admit I still don't know how to use that word (I just say "street dancing"). Is "Kuthu" only a Tamil thing? I also hear it said "Dappankuthu" or just "kuth." Waaay confused, haha. :) I think it has a different term in Telugu...can't remember now!

  6. hi,
    LOVE love loved it. You got some skills. I was looking for my daily prabhas fix in youtube & got to see this gem.
    Prabhas doing those moves in slow mo. Hallelujiah. I died & went to heaven.

  7. @Minai - yes it is a Tamil dance to express all emotions really. Used when you're happy, victorious, express grief. There are certain specific dances for each I think but all are mixed in films and generally referred to as dappankuthu or Kuthu.

  8. Wonderful, wonderful vid!It's incredibly well edited, love the background music (ahh, ♥ the part of "sexy lady" with the famous SI pelvic thrust) and you picked up lots of moments I adore. It seems like I'm buying Samba in my next purchase :P
    And Bharath's dappas are the best! Thanx again, I'm gonna post your video everywhere ^^

  9. I looooooooove this! Thanks for all the efforts. You make me wanna watch the films you used :D

  10. Me again :) Link to the only song I can think of where you get to see quite a few forms of Kuthu dances. From Paruthiveeran

  11. I'm speechless! It's absolutely fantastic!! This video (plus Allu Arjun's) will be my new go-to when I need cheering up :-)

  12. Wonderful compilation and excellent quality. They are all wonderfull dancers and I love watching them move. I'm glad you explained why there was no bunny because I watched the video before I read everthing so I was wondering. :D

    Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts, because it is not mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself. ~Havelock Ellis

  13. Wow! that was fantastic--great work on the editing.

    Like everyone else, I'm in awe of NTR Jr--need to watch more of his films immediately!

    Also, I was psyched to see high quality shots of the "Style" dances, since I've only seen grainy versions on youtube.

  14. anon- ha! Yes, the torso-roll was my fave. :)

    filmizest - thanks! that's a wonderful link. I've heard that film is a good one of the "village" films. I'm finally figuring this kuthu stuff out- there's a great thread on the subject now over on bollywhat:

    kendra - yes!! the pelvic thrusts!! I also highly recommend the songs in NTR Jr's Simhadri which I just discovered tonight!

    nicki - hey girl! thanks! You definitely need to try some NTR JR. He won't dethrone Allu Arjun, but he's pretty close in terms of charisma! :D

    simran_singh - thanks! we all need our cheer up videos- glad mine can be yours. :)

    cmleigh - my goodness, I love that quote. Agreed. And no where more true than in India, imo!

    Liz C - thank you! highly recommend getting the Style DVD. There's so much dancing it's mindboggling. Super cheesy though- very entertaining. :)

    darshit - thank you sir! :D

  15. You know how many times I watched this? Too many. Am sharing it with my friends too :)

  16. when are you going to do some justice to your profile pic and puit out some hardcore bharatanatyam/kuchipudi from films?

    whats a pretty girl like you pedalling trash like this? (absolute straight face)

  17. Nicki- Thanks! Yes, spread the southie love far and wide. :)

    rameshram - awww, not a fan of mass dances I see. :)

  18. apacharam my classist sensibilities are completely offended.

    The nataraja statue is spinning in its grave at the norton simon.

  19. lets unsubtly jog you in the right direction.

    kamala lakshman dancing in a konjum salangai ragamaalika.

  20. I realize I have been neglecting this gharana for a bit , and so the hood's become somewhat like this

    so here goes

    the kathak sequence from shatranj

  21. rameshram - ha! I can't handle Peta Rap, it's just too dated. But I do love most of Prabhu Deva's other stuff. That's a lovely kathak clip - never seen it before, thanks for sharing.

  22. ha! there was a message in the rap..


    heres more "good people" propaganda

    (lest you think im anti (what you call) koothu,

    heres a nice documentary on the real thing...

  23. not koothu..doesnt have an urumi or thavil ot 9what was the third thang?) but the cutouts doing their hippty hoppty touchy thing is pretty retro cool.(plus i like the lyrics)

  24. rameshram - that's funny, I forced myself to rewatch Petta Rap and the scene afterwards (with subtitles/DVD), and she calls Prabhu's little performance a "Rogue Dance"! Ha! I've gleaned that many folks look upon kuthu/dappankuthu/gana songs (that originated from the poor slums of Chennai, apparently) as unworthy, unskilled, and beneath them. They just haven't watched the right kuthu songs, is what I say to them. :D

    The "documentary" you posted is about one of the traditional dance forms of Kerala, of which there seem to be a few that have "kuthu" in their name, but they are far removed from my "kuthu" meaning "dappan kuthu."

    Lol at Ajith in that last video. :D Unfortunately I do not know Tamil and thus cannot understand the lyrics (or what meenamma means).

  25. dappanguthu does have a bad name among traditional tamil cinema watchers, but its not because it comes from the slums and the poor art is put upon. (thats the foreign NGO version).Indeed most people that do wach tamil films ARE the poor from the slums and so the danceform represesents pretty well. In fact i spent a good portion of my misspent youth wishing i could whistle and dance it as well as some of my friends from the other side of the tracks could(i went to one of those egalitarian colleges)

    it has a bad name because of clips like this

    (thatsNT rama rao and Sridevi rocking the nageshwara rao park, chennai)

    people simply didnt empathize with this stuff until the mid 2000's and I credit trisha krishnan's gilli 'appadi podu', specifically her first ten seconds in it to successfully sell dappanguthu as a male female cinema dance form.

    hitherto it was somehow always presented as an all male dance(sometimes at drinking bars and sometimes at funerals)

    so what youre seeing is just a repackaging of a sound/ dance that people have plenty of negetive associations with, not only because it was the staple of the telegu cinema inter generational hero wearing checked flair pants and red sunglasses with a sixteen year old heroine(usually sridevi).

    as regards pettai rap, nagma does call it a rogue dance, and deservedly so. the two were hardly dancing your idealized koothu in pettai rap, were they?

    The documentary I posted is about the real thing. its not malayali, its tamil. its called koothu, and is a traditional folk art, whose name you seem to have appropriated for a set of film dance set pieces you like a lot.

  26. Interesting. Yes, I believe you are correct about the documentary (I had not looked closely at it so shouldn't have presumed), though I think the "traditional" forms of koothu seem to have names given to them like Nangiyar Koothu in Tamil or Chakyar Koothu in Malayalam. I call Dappankuthu "kuthu" because that is what other Indians often call it. The evolution and definition of dappan kuthu is really fascinating, and I've found that no one agrees on its history or how far back it can be seen in films and in what context. I've found some really sweet examples of the kuthu percussion beats in old black and white tamil films. Very interesting to study, though I don't presume to really know what I'm talking about. :) I find the actual dance movements so fascinating- it's so free and spontaneous and energetic. Will have a post about it coming up.

    thats it. see all two parts.

    koothu is dance
    theru koothu means street dance(theater)
    dappan koothu (your baby) is dancing to the beats of a dabba(which is any wooden box, instead of a proper drum) , thus an informal (or rogue, if you will) dance.

    as to the aasai clip, its for me to know and you to find out.

  28. oh no no chekiyar koothu or kannagi koothu merely refers to the story thats being danced 9the story of kannagi, kannagi koothu. etc)

  29. The earliest instance of dappangoothu i can remember in films is in thillana mohanambal where manorama plays the nadaswaram in he dappangothu style. Im unable to find any TM videos.


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