Priya Prakash Varrier is finally making her film debut almost exactly a year after becoming an overnight internet sensation. After severals bumps in the road, her Malayalam film Oru Adaar Love, originally meant to release in June last year, is hitting theatres on Thursday.
Varrier caught India’s attention last February with her appearance in the film’s song Manikya Malaraya Poovi. Her wink and “gun kiss” in the song were an instant hit, with the actress amassing over 606,000 followers on Instagram in a single day.
The film’s makers were completely unprepared for the sheer volume of attention received by Varrier for her wink in the song, released on 9 February 2018. The video has so far received more than 86 million views on YouTube.
Numerous think pieces were written on the ephemeral nature of fame and how a simple wink could have catapulted a person to national attention.
A year later, the actress is still making waves. She was the most searched Indian personality on Google in 2018.
Despite being the talk of the town, Oru Adaar Love’s journey to the big screen has not been smooth. Varrier and film director Omar Lulu were dragged to court for offending religious sentiments with the Manikya Malare song but the complaint was quashed by the Supreme Court.
The film also ran into trouble as Lulu butted heads with producer Ouseppachan Valakuzhi over budget issues and reshoots. Wanting to capitalise on Varrier’s unexpected fame, the makers re-wrote and reshot the film to increase her role. While Lulu said he was made to re-write the script three times, Valakuzhi complained to the Kerala Film Producers Association that the director had not completed the film on time.
″(Valakuzhi) wanted only Priya and Roshan in the lead roles and other couples to be pushed down to supporting roles. Unfortunately, I had to object to it as that would spoil the mood of my campus movie,” Lulu told Manorama in June.
Reports say the movie will be released in four languages simultaneously, another factor that would have pushed up the movie’s budget.
In the meantime, Varrier’s experience of fame has also been a mixed bag. The actress has said she enjoys being famous but is also frequently targeted by trolls, most recently for a kiss scene from the film which also went viral online.
Her choice of films has also been questionable. The trailer for Varrier’s Hindi film debut Sridevi Bungalow faced flak for its apparent references to Sridevi’s death, with Boney Kapoor calling it a “sleazy representation of his wife’s life.” Varrier, however, was not too perturbed by the reaction to the film, saying she was “mentally prepared”.
A rollercoaster year of fame and hype finally comes to fruition with Oru Adaar Love’s release. Will it pay off? We’ll find out soon.