Nesamani returns: After ‘chowkidar’, TN roots for ‘contractor’

Comedy scene from Friends

A recent social media buzz about ‘Nesamani’ has again brought Tamil Nadu under the limelight. Known for its movie stars’ successful political plunges, the state has become talk of the town due to a meme created on a film star.

A comedy scene featuring character of Nesamani in the 2000 Tamil movie ‘Friends’, which was a remake of a Malayalam movie having the same name, has made a come back and triggered hashtag trends on the social media. In the movie, popular comedian Vadivelu played the role of Nesamani, a painting contractor.

Following this, many Tamilians have added the prefix ‘contractor’ to their names on their social media handles, quite similar to the ‘chowkidar’ campaign run by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run up to the recently-concluded general elections.

The scene

In the film, Nesamani lands a well-paying contract from a wealthy family. In order to get the work done at minimal wage, he takes along with him one of his relatives (Krishnamoorthy played by Ramesh Khanna) and two other friends (played by Vijay and Surya). There, Nesamani tries to boss around on others and called them ‘apprasantigal’, Nesamani’s way of pronouncing the word ‘apprentice’.

One day, while Krishnamoorthy was taking out nails from the wall using a hammer, it slipped off from his hand. Meanwhile, Nesamani was on the ground floor issuing orders, and the hammer hit his head and he fell unconscious.

This scene was widely applauded by the audience and since then, one of Nesamani’s dialogues, “aaniya pudunga vendam (don’t pluck nails)”, became popular. It is used to tell someone who deliberately wants to do something knowing they will mess it up. The one liner has been used as satire in several memes.

While Vadivelu’s dialogues and one liners are getting a place in the popular culture, they are not new to the Tamil society. This particular comedy scene witnessed a second coming recently. After the release of Avengers: Endgame, a mash-up video from the franchise featuring the audio track from the movie. Now, the same comedy scene is going viral with a hashtag ‘Pray_for_Nesamani‘.

It all started with a Facebook post on a Pakistan-based meme page ‘Civil Engineering Learners’ on May 27. One of the administrators of the page had posted an image of the hammer, asking ‘What is the name of this tool in your country?’. One of the followers of the page, who is from Tamil Nadu, responded to the post with a reference to the comedy scene.

Commenting on the reply, another follower from Tamil Nadu thought to play a fun by enquiring about Nesamani’s health condition in a serious tone. And thus, the hashtag started trending on social media. Gradually, many jumped on the bandwagon and started equating the comedy scene with today’s political situation in the country.

However, one particular move made it relevant to Narendra Modi’s swearing-in as Prime Minister. Also, the timing of the trending is being seen as the state’s response to the country’s pro-Modi wave, since the swearing-in ceremony is scheduled on May 30 (Thursday).

‘Chowkidar’ to ‘contractor’

When Modi used the word ‘chowkidar’ as a prefix to his name during the parliamentary election phase, many of his supported followed suit. It is a well-known fact that the hashtag ‘GoBackModi’ started trending in Tamil Nadu when the prime minister visited the state. Eventually, the campaign lost its steam and several of his followers removed the prefix from their social media handles. But now, the ‘contractor’ fever has grappled the people of Tamil Nadu as many Tamilians are now adding it as their prefix.

Meanwhile, ‘Pray_for_Nesamani’, ‘Nesamani’ and other hashtags, having reference to the character, have topped the trending charts worldwide. Following in the second and third spots are ‘ModiSarkar2’ and ‘ModiSwearingIn’.

This too adds fuel to the political hints. Whatever may be, the state heaved a sigh of relief from the usual political situations as it prevailed in the form of Vadivelu for the past three days.