The tale behind the tune that went viral with Fahadh Faasil's 'Aavesham' head dance

The head dance spawned a million memes with Pat Cummins and Sunil Narine joining in

158-Shaiju-Avaran-and-lyricist-Kannan-Mangalath Composer Shaiju Avaran (left) and lyricist Kannan Mangalath | Jeejo John

Fahadh Faasil’s iconic ‘head dance’ in the Malayalam blockbuster Aavesham may have spawned a million memes―with even cricketers such as Pat Cummins and Sunil Narine joining in―but few people know the tune they are dancing to. It is from a Malayalam folk song called ‘Karinkaliyalle’, created by two artistes with a working-class background―composer Shaiju Avaran and lyricist Kannan Mangalath of Irinjalakuda in Kerala’s Thrissur district.

Kannan, 41, was doing cable-related work for a local TV network when THE WEEK contacted him. “I have had various jobs in my life, including an apprenticeship in an electronics repair shop, artwork for a local advertising agency, and now this,” he said.

Kannan and Shaiju started working together more than a decade ago, when they were offered an opportunity to create folk songs for local dance groups performing Onakkali―a unique art form that has men depicting tales from the Ramayana.

‘Karinkaliyalle’ was initially conceived as an ode to the goddess Kodungalloor Bhagavathy.

Perfecting the moves: Fahadh Faasil's 'head dance' in Aavesham. Perfecting the moves: Fahadh Faasil's 'head dance' in Aavesham.

“We crafted the first four lines a few years ago,” said Shaiju. “It was well-received within our friend circle. Then, after Covid, we created a video featuring the famous festival Kodungallor Bharani. Surprisingly, the song went viral and a producer who owned a YouTube channel approached us. Together, we created a full version of the song. That version also went viral and sparked an Instagram trend.”

Apparently, it again went viral after the Kochi Metro featured it in a promotional video. “The Aavesham team contacted us for the song, and we signed an agreement,” he said.

‘Karinkaliyalle’ had amassed nearly 40 million views on YouTube before it was included in Aavesham. Fahadh's ‘head dance’ has added another two million views. “While we are elated that our song has gained global recognition, there is a tinge of sadness,” said Shaiju. “We remain overlooked and unacknowledged. THE WEEK is one of the rare media outlets that has told our story.”