There’s nothing so satisfying as a well-thought-out prank, and no one can perhaps pull off a successful bout of trolling with references to cinema quite as neatly as a Malayali can. On Thursday, Dubai-based social media user Chris Johnson showed one Nigerian and the world just how proficient and thorough trolling can get with a series of screenshots he posted to his Facebook profile, showing his hilarious and culturally loaded response to what appears to be an online fraudster from Nigeria.
Through the exchange on WhatsApp, he shows us how “another lad” from Nigeria attempted to scam him after he posted an advertisement on OLX selling a camera. The scamster, pretending to be a woman named Janet, asked Chris to courier the camera to Nigeria, and attempted to convince him to follow a bizarre series of steps to do so. Janet agreed to pay 200 DHS more than the price Chris requested, claiming that the extra 200 would be “insurance”, a process that doesn’t really exist when it comes to online sales.
This is when Chris’ instincts first reared their head. While he’s clearly already understood that this is a scam, he decides to invest some time and effort in returning the favour. When purportedly sending Janet his bank account details, Chris—who says he isn’t just a big Mohanlal fan, but a huge one— lists his name as “Mangalasheri Neelagantan", the name of Mohanlal’s character in the 1993 movie Devasuram. He also tells Janet that the name of his bank is Jacobinte Swargarajyam Bank, a direct reference to the 2016 Nivin Pauly-starrer Jacobinte Swargarajyam.
Being unfamiliar with Malayalam movies, Janet receives these details with no suspicions aroused. Janet then sends a mail to Chris from a fake ID, pretending to be the insurance provider “First Bank”, a bank that doesn’t exist. The mail informed Chris that the money had been paid by Janet, and that Chris would receive it in his Jacobinte Swargarajyam bank account as soon as he sent over a tracking ID from the courier service he used to send the camera. They have a small discussion about which courier service to use.
Showing great planning and foresight, Chris says he made sure to keep a fake courier receipt ready while the messages were being exchanged, so that Janet wouldn’t get suspect that anything was amiss. He sends Janet a receipt from Ravanaprabhu Courier service, supposedly located “opposite Janakinte veedu”, in “Karthikeyande office”. Ravanaprabhu, of course, is the 2003 sequel to Devasuram, Karthikeyan is Mohanlal’s character in the movie (where he plays a double role of both father and son, being both Mangalasheri Neelakantan and Mangalasheri Karthikeyan) and Janaki, played by singer-songwriter Vasundhara Das, is the woman Mohanlal’s character abducts and then falls in love with (an obviously problematic plot line but let’s not get into that now). He also lists his own address as “Verum Katta post”, which really cannot be translated into English but is deeply hilarious to a Malayali.
At one point, when Janet attempts to convince Chris into sending the camera across through a more “recognised” courier service than Ravanaprabhu Courier, Chris responds that the other services Janet names are too expensive, and actually attempts to scam Janet into sending him 200 DHS to pay for the courier charges.
The exchange concludes with Chris going full Malayali troll on Janet, sending him pictures of Mohanlal and Mammootty making various faces, claiming that they are the owners Ravanaprabhu Courier Service and another called Kutty Sranku Courier Service (after the 2009 Mammootty film Kutty Srank), and asking him whether he found their faces trustworthy. Once he figures the gig is up, Chris’ final question to Janet is the famous first question two Malayalis ask each other the moment they meet outside Kerala: “naatilu evidya”, or “where’s your hometown in Kerala?”.
Chris’ prank, full of cultural references that add an added layer of hilarity for movie-watching Malayalis, was shared over 6500 times, and saw over 1200 comments in just five days. Chris says he received lots of messages from people who had been scammed in similar ways, and others appreciating his sheer perseverance, tenacity and dedication to his joke.