Tamil Twitter does it again: #PrayforNesamani trends

Twitter isn’t toxic always and Tamil Twitter has proved this yet again.

On Wednesday, the Tamil Twitter showed the world how to use the micro-blogging site to bring a smile on everyone’s face by trending the hashtag #PrayforNesamani. Soon, Twitter was abuzz with get-well-soon messages for Nesamani, a painting contractor, who fell unconscious after being hit by a hammer.

Active Twitter users, television channel editors and journalists gave round-the-clock updates on Nesamani’s health from a reputed hospital in Chennai. There was even speculation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was cancelling his swearing-in ceremony and rushing to Chennai to get an update on Nesamani’s health.

Hold your breath.

Nesamani is an ever-popular role played by legendary comedian Vadivelu in a 2001 Tamil movie ‘Friends’ and the comedy sequences in the 18-year-old film is still afresh in everyone’s mind. The trending of the feel-good hashtag – it was no.1 in all-India trending on Wednesday night – displayed yet again the might of the Tamil Twitter that shot into spotlight when it made #GoBackModi hashtag trend worldwide in April 2018.

Vadivelu actually fuels the thriving meme industry in Tamil Nadu with meme creators taking a clip out of the legend’s movies to depict or comment about any situation. #VadiveluforLife is a hashtag that is perennially popular in Tamil Twitter.

At the last count at 10 am on Thursday, 18 hours after the hashtag was first used, one lakh mentions have been made by people from all sections of the society. And the tweets were hilarious to say the least – the gem among them are tweets that said US President Donald Trump had called Modi to enquire about Nesamani’s health, British Prime Minister Theresa May cancelling the Cricket World Cup due to Nesamani’s heath.

This tweet took the cake -- Nesamani was doing fine and had idli for his dinner, hospital sources said. The reference to idli was to mock at the spokespersons of the AIADMK who claimed that their leader J Jayalalithaa was recovering had idlis for her breakfast. The former chief minister was terminally ill and passed away after 75 days of treatment at Apollo Hospitals.

It all started when a user in Facebook group -- Civil Engineering Learners – posted picture of a hammer and sought to know what it is called in different languages. Vignesh Prabhakar, a Facebook user, used wit to reply to that message which has spawned the trending of the hashtag #PrayforNesamani.

In his reply, which is legendary now, Prabhakar said: “This is what we call Suthiyal. It will give ‘tung tung’ sound when we blow with it on something. Painting contractor Nesamani’s head was broken in Jameen Palace with this one by his cousin. Paavam (pity).” To this, Venkatesh Madamuthu replied: “Is he OK now?”.

“He is OK now da. Immediate first aid given with water spraying by his team. Thank god!!!,” Prabhakar replied, leading to a flurry of get-well-soon messages for contractor Nesamani.

Social media strategist Sonia Arunkumar, who first posted a screenshot of the conversation in the Facebook group on Twitter, told DH that she never thought a simple post could turn viral and the hashtag earn more than 1 lakh mentions. “I shared the screenshot and merely said ‘Pray for Nesamani’. Soon, the caption was turned into a hashtag and began trending,” she said.

Sonia says the trending of such a hashtag was a welcome change from the acrimonious debates and hashtag wars the micro-blogging site witnessed for the past three months ever since the election season began in March. “Two years back, we used to trend such feel-good hashtags on Twitter before hardcore political hashtags took over. It is good that we could trend #PrayforNesamani hashtag,” she said.

And the reach was so wide that cricketer Harbhajan Singh, who is part of the Chennai Super Kings IPL team, took to Twitter to pray for the speedy recovery of Nesamani. And Contractor Nesamani himself, actor Vadivelu, said he was blessed to be remembered for his comedy roles in movies.

Active users credited the Tamil Twitter for the hashtag. “What Tamil Twitter did with the #Pray_for_Nesamani tag is just amazing. No IT cells. So much fun on Twitter. Number 1 India trend for hours. Worldwide trend for hours again. And to realise that it all started with this fun post,” K Vasudevan, who tweets through @vasudevan_k, said.

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