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Setting the internet ablaze

Six days into its release, ‘Manikya Malaraya Poovi’ is continuing to break the Internet; thanks to Priya Prakash Varrier’s winks.

Setting the internet ablaze
Priya Prakash Varrier's expressions in the viral video.

Six days into its release, ‘Manikya Malaraya Poovi’ is continuing to break the Internet; thanks to Priya Prakash Varrier’s winks. The Mappila song became all the more popular with Shaan Rahman’s Midas touch

A few days ago nobody knew who Priya Prakash Varrier was. She became an internet sensation when the video of the song Manikya Malaraya Poovi from Omar Lulu’s latest project Oru Adaar Love, in which she winks at her fellow student, released online. Netizens went gaga over the ‘wink’ and the number of followers on her instagram account skyrocketed within hours hitting the million bar. A native of Thrissur and a college student, Priya hardly imagined the ‘wink’ would make her popular across the globe. For her family, the overnight fame and the never-ending calls and messages are new. Even for Omar, who is not new to limelight, the situation is too much to handle. “Enough has been said on the song. We don’t have anything more to add,” he said.

Poet behind the beautiful verses

Gokul M.G.

At a time when the song Manikya Malaraya Poovi, sung by filmmaker Vineeth Srinivasan, which is being appreciated primarily for Priya Varrier’s adorable expressions is trending online, there is a man, a thousand miles away, who wrote the lyrics of this song, handling the customers in a grocery store in Saudi Arabia.
In 1974, 20-year-old Thrissur resident Jabbar wrote this mappila pattu for Akashavani. His long-term friend, musician and singer Thalassery K. Refeeque, was the music composer. From then on, Malayalis across the world heard this song in different voices, but never identified the poet.

Jabbar wrote the first song as a teenager for the students of a nearby madrassa in Vellangallur and went on to write almost five hundred more before flying overseas for work.

Though he still carries the passion for writing, Jabbar is not happy with the life in the land of Mecca as he is not getting the time or space for writing.
“I’m happy that my song is a hit. I am getting good feedback for a song that I wrote almost 44 years ago. But I am not interested in publicity and walk away from it all the time,” says Jabbar.

While indulging in his works at the shop, he doesn’t hide the fact that he misses his good old days when he was active in songwriting. “At the moment, I am not able to pen anything. But I write songs for Challenger Music Club, a group comprising artists and music enthusiasts based in Riyadh, as per their request”
The film song and the cast have been an instant hit. But Jabbar still hasn’t been able to fulfill his long-term wish of combining all his works and publishing them as a collection of Malabar Mappila songs.

Shaan magic strikes gold again

Elizabeth Thomas

After ‘Jimikki Kammal’, another Shaan Rahman song has topped the hit charts. Manikya Malaraya Poovi is trending online not just for the actor’s winks, but also for its soulful lyrics and music. “I never imagined it would be a hit. I don’t keep such expectations while composing a song,” says Shaan. “Since I do the composing, I won’t be able to listen to my song fresh. I will have no clue how listeners would take it. When they like it, miracles like this happen,” he smiles.
Deviating from the traditional mappila pattu format, Shaan adopted a sweet and light style for the song. “Omar narrated the story and asked me to redo this song for this situation in my style. The original song’s tempo is high. I slowed down the song in accompaniment with light orchestra,” says Shaan.

He chose a light tone to retain the soul of the song. “I didn’t feel like tarnishing the soul of the song by inculcating too many instruments. Also, in a school, when such a programme happens, orchestra would be limited. There may be a guitar, keyboard and drums. I did the orchestration keeping that in mind,” he explains.
Crooned by Vineeth Sreenivasan, Shaan’s best friend, the song is played in loop by listeners. “I had him in mind and Omar also suggested Vineeth. It is after a while Vineeth is singing a song in this genre. His earlier songs Kasavinte Thattamittu… and Ente Khalbile…’ were hits.”

It was Vineeth who sang the Jimikki Kammal’ too. Quiz Shaan on whether Vineeth is his lucky charm, he says smiling, “We are friends. I think that rapport reflects in our works.”

What’s in a wink?

Aswani Dravid

It was in the year 1518; a woman from Strasbourg began dancing and continued nonstop for several days. She was joined by many others and most of the lot died of exhaustion from incessant dancing. This is a classic case of mass hysteria, recorded in history. Mass hysteria also known as collective hysteria, group hysteria, or collective obsessional behavior, is a phenomenon that transmits collective illusions of threats, whether real or imaginary, through a population in society as a result of rumors. Over the past weekend, a new epidemic broke out in India in the form of a video of a schoolgirl in uniform winking at her schoolmate. Within hours of its release on YouTube, a tiny shot from the film, Oru Adaar Love, was edited out to make GIFs, trolls and memes. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, television and social media began to celebrate her as the ‘national crush’. From school going kids to senior citizens, from Bollywood celebrities to Hollywood, the girl has become the topic of conversations.

On the way from Delhi to Dehradun in a local transport bus, I happened to overhear a rather loud conversation of two men about a ‘wink girl’. I googled ‘wink girl’ and to my amusement found the headline of a national daily saying ‘wink girl — the new national crush’. The euphoria behind this viral sensation has raised many concerns for me. Even outside social media, on the streets, the wink has gone viral. The excitement that accompanied this internet sensation portrays a collective illusion of a rather attractive expression to be in superlative. A group of Muslim youths from Hyderabad registered a police complaint against the actor and makers of the film for allegedly hurting their religious sentiments. Such rumors around this viral video raise many questions on the mass hysteric behaviour Indian youths are exhibiting.

Anand, from Delhi, says, “I have lost count as to how many times I watch this video in a day. I wake up to it and every time someone mentions the wink girl (which is often), I feel an urge to watch it again.” A group of techies from Infopark, Kochi, say, “The girl has done a brilliant job in the video but we do not know how this became viral.” Meanwhile, Jeeva from Kochi opines that films like Premam and Thattathin Marayathu had heroines with exotic expressions. Nevertheless, these youths also confess that such doubts about the potentiality of this video do not stop them from watching it or talking about it.

These claims clearly indicates the mob mentality of likes and dislikes the social media injects in the minds of the fluttery youth. This is primarily a distinctive case of such a liking that transcended into a mass euphoria gone out of hands. Like the meowing mass hysteric case of nuns in France in the middle ages, which was curtailed by external force, we could wait and see the extent to which this hysteria spreads across our surroundings.

(Aswani Dravid is an assistant professor at the Department of Public Policy in University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun)

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