x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dubai awaits Wilbur's potty outlook on culture

Wilbur Sargunaraj, whose catchy pop song Love Marriage has had almost a million hits, also hopes to shoot part of his feature film in the emirate.

It is the first time the singer, known as just Wilbur by his fans, has played in the Middle East.
It is the first time the singer, known as just Wilbur by his fans, has played in the Middle East.

DUBAI // The eccentric singer and occasional personal hygiene instructor who has become India's first YouTube star will perform in Dubai this year to try to boost the city's "cultural intelligence".

Wilbur Sargunaraj, whose catchy pop song Love Marriage has had almost a million hits, also hopes to shoot part of his feature film in the emirate.

It is the first time the singer, known as just Wilbur by his fans, has played in the Middle East, but he has a growing fan base here.

He says about a third of the 900,000 views of his surprisingly frank video about how to use an "eastern latrine" have come from the UAE.

"I know people are watching this video and thinking Wilbur Sargunaraj is just the toilet man," he said this week. "But it's not just a random person sitting on a toilet.

"There is some substance to this. It's a great way to show people how to do different things. My mission statement is to make the common extraordinary."

Wilbur, 34, who lives in Toronto, has travelled to Malaysia, Japan and Oman, and has posted videos of his adventures on YouTube.

Key to their message is boosting the cultural intelligence, or "CQ" of his audience.

He feels people view different cultures as "edible commodities" - "They want to eat their food but don't want to associate with their people."

Wilbur, from Madurai in Tamil Nadu, lists his influences as Boney M and Michael Jackson.

His latest album, Simple Superstar, was released this year and features his YouTube hits, as well as a song about cricket and another called Dance in Dubai.

He will travel to Beirut and Dubai in December to scout for film locations and play concerts.

Wilbur has set December 2 for a Dubai concert, with the venue and timing to be released soon through his Facebook fan page.

He has dozens of relatives in Dubai and was bowled over by the city during his last visit in 2007.

"It really made me think how amazing it is that the God has given man a brain to make this first-class architecture," Wilbur said.

While he incorporates humour into his songs, Wilbur is committed to raising difficult issues such as arranged marriage and the caste system through music.

"I love to have a laugh but there's a serious side, too," he said.

mcroucher@thenational.ae