Tunak Tunak Tun
"Tunak Tunak Tun" or simply "Tunak", is a Bhangra/Indi-pop song by Indian Punjabi artist Daler Mehndi, released in 1998. It was the first Indian music video made using greenscreen technology.
The song and the video were a success in India, cementing Mehndi's status as India's biggest and most popular popstar at the time. It later gained international success, especially after it became an internet meme in the 2000s.
BackgroundThe "Tunak Tunak Tun" lyrics are a reference to the sounds made by a tumbi (also called tumba), a traditional musical instrument from the Punjab region in the northern Indian subcontinent. The lyrics also refer to the ektara or tuntuna.
Mehndi's music was often criticized for only being popular due to his videos which featured beautiful, dancing women. The singer responded by creating a video that featured only himself. The music video was the first made in India using greenscreen technology, which allowed the singer to superimpose his image over various computer-generated backgrounds including desert and mountain landscapes as well as the St. Basil's Cathedral.
The music video was produced on an unprecedented budget of (), equivalent to () adjusted for inflation.
Music videoThe music video follows a simple plot about four men, all played by Mehndi, who represent the four classical elements and dress in lavish Indian clothing. The earth Mehndi wears red/maroon, the fire Mehndi wears orange, the wind Mehndi wears brown, and the water Mehndi wears green. The men start off as comets made of water, dirt, air, and fire before transforming into clothed humans. Each of them take turns singing, dancing and pointing at each other as though they are discussing something. The men later fuse by first reverting to their comet states and then merging to form Daler Mehndi, who is predominantly donning garb of yellow and green.
As of April 17, 2020, the music video has received over 148 million views on the Sony Music India channel at YouTube.
ReceptionThe song and the music video received a negative review from Rashtriya Sahara magazine in 1998. Despite this, the song became an incredible commercial success in 1998, becoming the biggest Indi-pop hit at the time.
International popular cultureBy 1999, the song found an international cult following, particularly among the South Asian diaspora in countries such as the United Kingdom and United States, as well as in Far-Eastern markets such as Japan. In China, it attained popularity for its lyrics, which sound like nonsensical words, gaining the song the Chinese name, "我在东北玩泥巴" ("I'm playing clay in Northeastern China").
In the 2000s, "Tunak Tunak Tun" found greater international popularity on the internet as a viral video. In response, the video game company Blizzard Entertainment incorporated the "Tunak Tunak Tun" dance as a character animation in their multiplayer role-playing game World of Warcraft in 2007. This dance is also included as an easter egg in the video game Medal of Honor: Allied Assault Spearhead.