"Being Indian is not an identity. It is a great measure of cultural intelligence,” says funny musician and YouTube ‘sensation’ Wilbur Sargunaraj. The man is obviously referring to his ‘simple superstar’ status that he has achieved by playing on the stereotype of the submissive Tamilian. “Yes I am a simple superstar, but I can't say that in Tamil Nadu. Nobody but Rajnikanth can be called superstar,” he says.
Labelled as the Indian Borat, Sargunaraj is a splitting image of a lungi-route high flier settled in North America. He’s dressed in a starch-white shirt, black trousers and a thin black tie. Oiled hair parted on one side and chunky geek glasses completed his look, when he came to the city and met with his fans at Gostana, Bandra.Ask him if he is playing up the stereotype and pat comes the heavily accented reply. "Of course not madam. I am like this only," he folds his hands and addresses you as Madam in every sentence. The ‘First Class’ trademarked (that accompanies all his videos) musician is most known for his brand of Indian-pickled humour in music videos like Love marriage, cricket and more recently The Canada song. On his YouTube channel, Sargunaraj uploads how-to tutorials on using the eastern latrine, bhangra and ordering through a drive-in, among others.
Though being funny comes naturally to Sargunaraj, who lives in Madurai, his main forte, he says, is music. “I loved singing and dancing as a child and wanted to be a musician. My parents were upset about my career choice initially, but sent me to music schools across the world,” says Sargunaraj, who has studied in New York, LA, Cuba, Japan and the Caribbean. A drummer, the man says he uses Havana beats and Afro rhythms in his melodies.
“I am now working on a remix album, where DJs from across the world will remix my songs,” he says. He's also working on a book for children, funded by a research organisation in Singapore, which will be based on developing one's cultural intelligence. “It's called CQ, cultural quotient. It is a way of making sure people from different cultural ethnicities can adapt well and sensitively in other regions,” he says.