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Pick of the social media sensations of Kerala, in 2018

With social media always on the lookout for people and incidents that catch eyeballs or tug at the heartstrings, 2018 saw a few names catapulted to instant fame. If a school girl’s wink in a romantic song video launched a thousand memes as well as raised several eyebrows, true acts of valour and kindness like the rescue video of a pregnant woman during the devastating floods warmed hearts. 2018 is also the year that proved the life-changing, life-saving potential of social media, which was evident when it was harnessed to gather succour and galvanise support during the floods. MetroPlus zooms in on some Malayalis who sent netizens into a tizzy during the course of the year.

Priya Prakash Varrier

Actor

Priya Prakash Varrier

Priya Prakash Varrier   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Priya Prakash Varrier, the internet sensation from Thrissur who became Google’s most searched personality in 2018, says she has always had her eyes on tinsel town. Eyebrows were raised when Priya conquered social media with one saucy wink and a snazzy lift of her eyebrow in the song sequence. With just one song from her maiden film, ‘Manikya Malaraya Poovi’ from Oru Adaar Love, she became the cynosure of all eyes.

On February 14, Valentine’s Day, the makers of the Malayalam film released a song from the film featuring Priya, and the teenager saw her Instagram account climb almost exponentially. It now stands at 6.2 million, she says, speaking from Thrissur where she is a student of the prestigious Vimala College.

The viral video fetched her advertisements and offers to act in films. “I have not accepted many assignments as of now. I am waiting for the release of Oru Adaar Love,” she says.

Although the ads did not emulate the success of her song sequence, Priya is not discouraged. She admits that she is a little nervous as her first film is scheduled to be released on February 14, 2019.

Hanan Hamid

College student

Hanan Hamid

Hanan Hamid   | Photo Credit: Facebook

The torrent of trolls could neither defeat nor destroy her. The proof: Hanan Hamid continues to peddle fish till, in her own words, “I reach my goal of studying medicine.” The 21-year-old final-year BSc Chemistry student became a social media sensation after her story of selling fish after college to support herself and her family went viral earlier this year. Despite the “unwarranted” attention, an unfazed Hanan continued her familiar routine until she met with a car accident in September that injured her grievously.

“I sustained spinal injuries and had to undergo a lot of surgery. But once I was back on my feet, it was business as usual [at a junction in Thammanam, Kochi],” she says over phone from Kochi. She has learnt to take both vindication and vitriol in her stride, vowing never to succumb to threats hurled by cyber-bullies. “Are our dreams something to be sacrificed before cyber-bullies? My strengths have been the very challenges thrown my way,” says Hanan, whose parents live in Thrissur. She later started her own fish vending venture, cheekily calling it Viral. She still attends her college in Thodupuzha and commutes the considerable distance by bus.

Hanan admits to being at the receiving end of abuse even now, but firmly says “it only reflects the character of the abusers.” But has life been the same since the online furore? “Pretty much the same as far I am concerned, except for the physical pain I endure every day,” she says, mentioning the two iron rods that “support” her body. Her iron determination seems even stronger.

Vinod Narayan

Vlogger

Vinod Narayan

Vinod Narayan   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Vinod Narayan lives in the US but nothing of interest that happens in Kerala seems to escape his notice, whether it be current events in the State or the utterances of politicians and celebrities. His vlogs are the rage and his YouTube channel, Ballatha Pahayan, is one of the most avidly followed ones with more than 20K followers.

Why that name? “I had been blogging for a while in English as Vinod Narayan and in Malayalam as ‘Marthyan’. When I was thinking of a vlog in Malayalam, the name Marthyan sounded too serious and my vlog was to be more funny with snippets of reasoning. Ballatha Pahayan is an old Malayalam film starring the versatile Bahadur. And it sounded apt back then,” he says in an e-mail.

Recently, his takes on movies Odiyan and Joseph had 184K views. An entrepreneur from California, who hails from Kozhikode, he speaks in a Kozhikodan dialect while airing his thoughts on a wide range of subjects.

“The Kozhikode slang surely resonates with many. I had been doing it for two years before it picked up steam. Also, I think people love the non-scripted, straight-from-the-heart talk and they feel connected,” he says.

He adds that he makes it a point to keep it very honest without scripting for likes or popularity. He says that amongst his most watched videos are “one I made that imitates news anchor Arnab Goswami and another is a travelogue to Napa Wine Country... In YouTube, there is a different set of videos I guess, though the one that became viral first was the one I made during the floods.”

Peppered with wit and sarcasm, Vinod shot to fame during the flood when he took on Suresh Kochattil, who claimed in a WhatsApp post that the floods had only hit the rich in Kerala and so there was no need for anyone to send donations to help Kerala. The vlog, posted on August 19, 2018 has garnered 13,42,818 views so far.

Commander Vijay Varma

Indian Navy officer

When floods ravaged Kerala, one video that went viral was that of a pregnant Sabitha Jabil being airlifted from the rooftop of a house in Aluva. The nation watched with bated breath as the team braved the inclement weather and airlifted her into a hovering helipcopter. As soon as the video was out, Commander Vijay Varma, who piloted the Chetak helicopter, became a national hero.

The icing on the cake was a video that showed ‘Thanks’ made on the rooftop of a house expressing gratitude for the rescue operations.

KP Jaisal

Fisherman

KP Jaisal

KP Jaisal  

It was a selfless gesture that didn’t go unnoticed during the flood, thanks to social media. KP Jaisal, a fisherman from Malappuram, bent down and offered his back to enable a group of marooned women to board a dinghy of the National Disaster Response Force. He stooped in the murky water till the women were all aboard. His generous act made him a hero overnight. Since then, help has poured in from different quarters.

On song

Rakesh Unni with Kamal Hassan

Rakesh Unni with Kamal Hassan  

Rakesh Unni, a daily wage labourer from Nooranadu, sang his way to glory when a video of him singing Shankar Mahadevan’s ‘Unnai kaanadhu’ from Kamal Hassan’s Viswaroopam went viral. The video was tweeted by Shankar and Rakesh got a chance to share a stage with him. He also met Kamal in Chennai.

When a video of MV Usha, a teacher from Thrikkaripur, presenting an Ottanthullal on Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on Children’s Day was out on social media, she was trolled by a section of viewers. But Usha’s power-packed performance had many supporters too and she went on to be hailed as a model teacher.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 11:26:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/pick-of-the-social-media-sensations-of-kerala-of-2018/article25850729.ece

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