Chennai: Even as there was a huge buzz over the last two days with gossipy reports about possible Ministerial candidates in the Modi team, the Tamil section on social media platforms was busy with a subject of more importance and urgency: Praying for Naesamani. Or to use the precise term: #Pray_For_Naesamani.

But by now, if you have been anywhere near media, you'd have known what this trending topic #Pray_For_Naesamani is all about. 

It is from a comic scene in the Tamil film ‘Friends’ which is a remake of the Malayalam hit movie of the same name. Comedian Vadivelu plays the role of an exasperated painting contractor Naesamani who is in-charge of a gaggle of unmanageable, maladroit workers. In the scene, Naesamani gets hit on the head by a hammer let slip by one of the worker’s hands.

An innocuous query with reference to a pic of a hammer on the Facebook book page of 'Civil Engineering Learners' triggered this massive, impromptu tsunami of posts on Naesamani. 

A member of that Facebook group, Vignesh Prabhakar, hailing from Tamil Nadu but currently working in Dubai, responded that it was a hammer.

As is the wont of many film-crazy Tamilians, he slipped in the Vadivelu reference, and impishly said that this was the hammer that fell on Naesamani, and for good measure he added let us wish that Naesamani recovers from this blow, and inevitably hashtagged it: #Pray_for_Naesamani.

And social media platforms have not been the same ever since.

Many initially did not understand the hashtag, but as soon as the idea spread, things just caught on like wildfire, as they sometimes tend to on social media platforms. Especially with utterly trivial, pointless stuff. At one point, the hashtag was number one in India’s trending list, and number two in the world list.

It was almost surreal to see something so silly and bagatelle dominate the proceedings.

"But on the social media platforms in their early years (2011 and thereabouts), when fun was the keyword, when nobody took themselves as seriously as they do now, such things were not uncommon," says Raghuram Krishnan, a social media analyst in an advertising firm in Hyderabad. 

"In that sense, this particular trend was a throwback to those days of innocent joys and unprepossessing approach on social media platforms," he added.

The diverting, chucklesome Naesamani trend also reflects how much movies, especially Vadivelu-centric themes, dominate Tamil discourse.

In general, the Tamil meme-makers (referred to on Twitter timeline under the overarching caption: 'Tamil meme nation') are known for their sharp wit and droll humour skills to link the sublime to the mundane and trigger, if not laughter then at least a wry smile.

But the Tamil meme nation has one advantage: It’s audience is well clued in on Tamil film references, especially Vadivelu portions in movies. And any kind of link, even if esoteric or abstruse, is spotted, understood and celebrated up by Tamil audience.  

The general feeling is, howsoever solemn or serious the situation, there is a Vadivelu dialogue that would fit the occasion. It is a fact that Vadivelu lines are casually dropped in, and more importantly, don't look out of place, be they at boardrooms or street corner chats or college canteens or, heaven forbid, inside the temple corridors.

"It is well known that Tamil Nadu is a movie-fixated state. It is not uncommon to find people casually using filmy lines in their everyday conversations," said M Kathiravan, a film historian and an academic. "But even in such a State, Vadivelu comic lines are legendary and iconic."

According to Kathirvelan, the reasons for this are, "Vadivelu is a damn good comedian, Tamils have a good sense of humour. And on a practical plane, Tamil Nadu was the first state to have standalone comedy channels that played comic portions from films 24X7. These channels were popular all over the state. This ensured that those lines got to enjoy daily currency."

Vadivelu and (another comedian) Goundamani, with their earthy style, added extra heft to their comic lines and the majority of Tamil memes fall back on their body of work in most conversations. Also, if you take out these two, you practically kill off Tamil memes.

Vadivelu himself is cheerily unaware of the enormity of the trending that his zany act as Naesamani has pulled off. Vadivelu is more or less away from cinematic limelight since 2011, after he took on Vijayakanth (and Jayalalithaa) when he campaigned for the DMK.

Also, as his popularity grew, he became a difficult actor to work with, say industry sources, and he is now practically without any film.

He may not be the leading comedian in films anymore, but he still has the last laugh. Memes and social media platforms do what Vadivelu, in one of his movies, did not want to: "Enna vechu comedy kimedy pannalaiye (hope you are not making a joke out of me)."