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When love went wink, wink

How a few expressive glances made a Kerala teenager an Internet sensation 

It’s a wink that any lad from the pre-Valentine’s Day-fad ’80s would’ve died for.

A range of playful yet flirtatious expressions ending with a wink that would floor most young men even today has virtually launched Priya Prakash Varrier, a 19-year-old college student from Kerala, who has since taken the Internet by storm.

The biggest Internet sensation from Kerala after Malayalam film song Jimikki Kammal — that even grabbed the attention of American talk show host Jimmy Kimmel due to the likeness to his name — this Kerala teen has exploded into the entertainment scene with a big bang that neither money nor pedigree can buy.

In less than 48 hours after she boarded Twitter at 5.27pm on February 10, Priya registered close to 23,000 followers. Her Instagram account, which has swelled with 1.8 million followers, became verified on Tuesday.

Instagram page of time4knowldge claimed Priya gained 6.06 lakh followers in just a day. Cristiano Ronaldo, who clocked 6.50 lakh on November 13, and Kylie Jenner, who added 8.6 lakh on February 5, are the only ones ahead of her.

Now the big question: who is this teen?

Priya is a classical dancer who makes her film debut in the upcoming Malayalam campus flick Oru Adaar Love (One Bombastic Love).

Screen grabs from the video that made Priya Prakash Varrier an Internet sensation

But it’s a song from the movie posted on YouTube on Saturday which made her a sensation. The number one trending video on YouTube, the song received 5.3 million views in just two days, and the obvious reason is Priya. It zoomed to 8.5 million on Tuesday.

The 3.16-minute song video is set in a school campus with a band playing on the stage. It’s an under 30-second sequence where a boy (Mohammed Roshan) and Priya flirt with each other that has left youths from Kerala to Bangladesh swooning.

The boy, standing with his friends, makes eye contact with Priya, who is seated with other girls. Both of them flirt by playing with their eyebrows, and then Priya winks at the boy whose expression shows what hit him.

It’s quite the kind of flirting seen during the ’80s and ’90s before Valentine’s Day, hugs and pecks took over.

The song Manikya Malaraya Poovi is tuned by Shaan Rahman and sung by Vineeth Sreenivasan, the duo behind Jimikki Kammal.

While there isn’t too much of personal details available, film industry sources confirmed Priya is a second-year BCom student in Thrissur and is a student of classical dance.

The Malayalam meme factory immediately got busy by uploading videos with the boy replaced with a slew of Mollywood comedians and one with Mr Bean played by Rowan Atkinson.

Among the best Twitter comments was one from Akshay Jain, who goes by the handle @AkshayKatariyaa. “Priya Prakash Varrier gave all types of expression in that two minutes what Katrina Kaif couldn’t give in her entire Bollywood career.”

A Bangalore-based art director thought it was perhaps Priya’s moment of glory, but didn’t see it as any yardstick of success. “As a Cadbury model Preity Zinta sent us all crazy. But she was never a good actress. Likewise, Priya has to prove it on screen. But unlike Preity, it is Priya’s classical dance background that might help her in cinema,” said the man who didn’t wish to be named.

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