The power of Tamil Twitter was once again on full display as a hashtag began trending in Chennai on Wednesday afternoon. The hashtag #Pray_for_Neasamani requested people on social media to pray for someone called Neasamani and quickly gathered traction. By Wednesday night, it was among the top trends in the world.
There were three guys always plotting against Neasamani. First, they carried him on the bed while he's sleeping and beat him.— George Vijay Addict (@VijayIsMyLife) May 29, 2019
Second, one of them deliberately dropped a hammer on his head.
Third, they tied his legs with rope and slid him along the ground. #Pray_for_Neasamani pic.twitter.com/yA2QEamXkf
— Gublu (@IdlyGundanRCB) May 29, 2019
Who is Neasamani, the rest of India asked.
For the uninitiated, Neasamani is nothing short of an icon in Tamil popular culture. Contractor Neasamani is a character played by comedian Vadivelu in the Tamil film Friends in 2001. This film, a remake of a Malayalam film by the same name, had Vijay, Suriya, Devayani and others in the star cast.
How did it all start?
#Pray_for_Neasamani trended after a Pakistan-based meme page Civil Engineering Learners posed a question, “What is the name of the tool in your country?” by posting a photo of a hammer.
An overenthusiastic Vadivelu fan was quick to connect the hammer with a scene from Friends, in which Contractor Neasamani ends up with an injury because one of his inept assistants (Ramesh Kanna) drops a hammer on his head after failing to follow the simplest of instructions. The humour in the scene is accentuated by the poker-faced expressions of Vijay and Suriya, who play second fiddle to Vadivelu.
After the user connected the hammer to Neasamani, another Tamil Facebook user, mockingly wrote, “Is he ok?” Now these two decided to rib the entire Facebook culture of praying for someone with #Pray_for_Neasamani which later snowballed into a major Twitter trend with memes and funny responses.
Soon the hashtag began to gather traction on Twitter and many more Tamil users participated in the fun. The trend really took off when celebrities and official handles of organisations also decided to pay their tribute to the unforgettable Neasamani.
Even Apollo Hospital was pulled in, with fake health bulletins on Neasamani's health reminding one of the days when former CM J Jayalalithaa was hospitalised there.
Journalists and news editors also jumped into the Neasamani frenzy.
Hope u have assigned senior reporters to cover the hospital news. Round the clock coverage must. Track his health condition closely. #Pray_for_Neasamani— Karthigaichelvan S (@karthickselvaa) May 29, 2019
Anyone asking 'Who is Nesamani' is unnecessarily insulting Tamil emotions. Just shut up and #Pray_for_Neasamani— Dharani Thangavelu (@DharaniT) May 29, 2019
But it wasn’t just journalists, political leaders too weren’t immune to the Neasamani phenomenon.
When one Twitter user threatened to boycott elections if politicians don’t voice their support to Neasamani, DMK MLA TRB Rajaa quipped, “I am going to tonsure my head at 10 am.” Rajaa said that he’d perform several other rituals for Neasamani's recovery.
DMK spokesperson Saravanan Annadurai, who often accuses PM Narendra Modi of bias against Tamil Nadu, cheekily wrote, “Will our PM visit the hospital to enquire about the health condition of Contractor Nesamani. Or will he atleast send a tweet#Pray_for_Neasamani is he doing this only cos Nesamani is from TN. What if Nesamani was from Gujarat????”
Will our PM visit the hospital to enquire about the health condition of Contractor Nesamani. Or will he atleast send a tweet #Pray_for_Neasamani is he doing this only cos Nesamani is from TN. What if Nesamani was from Gujarat????— Saravanan Annadurai (@asaravanan21) May 29, 2019
Tamil Twitter drags in AIADMK
The trend took potshots at the AIADMK as netizens made fun of former spokesperson CR Saraswathi who had claimed that late CM Jayalalithaa was fine and had eaten idlis.
Popular brands pitch in
While Twitter was exploding with emotions for one man, could brands be left behind?
While KTV, an entertainment channel which is a part of the Sun network, promoted another movie using Neasamani as a prop, Chennai Super King claimed that Dhoni could have saved Neasamani with his superhuman reflexes.
Nippon India didn’t let go off the opportunity of a free advertising campaign to promote their products.
We so wish Krishnamurthy was as professionally trained as our PRO Store painters to have avoided causing this injury.— Nippon Paint India (@NipponIndia) May 29, 2019
We wish Neasamani a speedy recovery. #Pray_For_Neasamani
Visit our PRO Stores for professional painting services in Chennai, Coimbatore & Trichy. #Nipponpaint pic.twitter.com/hxKF59VXjt
Undoubtedly, Vadivelu is one of the most iconic Tamil comedians. Though he hasn’t been active in films of late, his old films have made such a deep impression in the minds of the Tamil audience that most of his dialogues have turned into memes. As one Twitter user Paviraksha said, “Vadivelu is deeply interwoven into Tamil culture and our everyday lives.”
Watch the iconic scene here: