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In the wink of an eye, literally, the video for the song ‘Manikya Malaraya Poovi’ changed the destinies of two people last year, exactly a day before Valentine’s Day. Teenagers Priya Prakash Varrier and Roshan Abdul Rahoof, who were all set to make their acting debut with Malayalam film ‘Oru Adaar Love’ (An extraordinary love), found themselves hurled into online fame overnight. The now-famous wink of Varrier featured for a few seconds in the video carried enough bomb to make them viral stars and altering the course of ‘Oru Adaar Love’.

Last year, Varrier became the most Googled person of the year. Today, her instagram account counts more than 6.5 million followers, an unheard of feat for a debutant actress whose film is yet to release.

But the bouquets brought along brick bats too. A group of Muslims from Hyderabad registered a complaint that the lyrics of the song hurt their religious sentiments and a case was filed against Varrier.

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Now, as the film is set to finally release on Valentine’s Day, director Omar Lullu has the task of dubbing his film in three other languages besides Malayalam, to capitalise on its star’s new-found fame.

Interestly, when Varrier and Rahoof were cast, they were not even meant to be the leads. As junior artists, Varrier and Roshan were selected to play supporting characters. Lullu, whose earlier two films, ‘Happy Wedding’ and ‘Chunkz,’ were commercial entertainers, wanted to explore a teenage romance story set inside a school campus with ‘Oru Adaar Love’.

“We were a pair in the story with only three scenes,” recalled Varrier.

Lullu said he was unsatisfied while filming with the lead pair. “Something was lagging and I was not happy.”

But what caught his eye while shooting a scene with Varrier and Rahoof was the crackling chemistry they shared.

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“There was this scene where Priya was asked to climb down the staircase with me. After the scene was shot, the crowd gave a loud applause and the director really loved our combo. That’s one of my unforgettable moments,” Rahoof recalls.

It did not take long for them to replace the film’s original lead pair.

“The director asked me to wink and I did it,” said Varrier, a second year college student from Thrissur. She has been up on stage since school days as a dancer, besides a modelling stint during college days. “It was a one take.”

The rest is history.

The lead pair

Rohoof, who spent his early childhood in the UAE and studied at Chavakad, Kerala, is passionate about dance, and had participated in a dance reality show on television. He never intended to become an actor. “But the judges’ comments about my acting encouraged me to contemplate cinema,” he says.

Priya Prakash Varrier and Roshan Abdul Rahoof Image Credit: Supplied

So he quit college and is now pursuing a business course through distance education.

Rahoof added that the climax scene was the most difficult one for him. “It is emotion laden.”

Their beautiful friendship was evident during their interaction with the media in Chennai a month ago. While everyone made a beeline for Varrier making her the focus of all attention, Rahoof sat silently in the wings watching with an indulgent smile. The pair are already dealing with fame as mature adults and like seasoned celebrities, minus the tantrums.

When asked if there was any jealousy, he answered: “She is my best friend. I am happy for her.”

Varrier is currently in the UK shooting for her second film ‘Sridevi Bungalow’ in Hindi.

“Yes, I have just started my Bollywood stint,” she confirmed. “I can’t really explain the differences in North and South Indian cinemas but hard work is necessary in both.”

She did receive offers to work in Malayalam films but at that time she was busy with ‘Oru Adaar Love’.

From that one wink to the next video featuring Varrier’s gunshot kiss, ‘Oru Adaar Love’ has come a long way from the pages of Lullu’s writings. Following the rage of ‘Manikya Malaraya Poovi’, Lullu’s responsibility grew. He reworked on his script, extending the roles of Varrier and Roshan.

On Valentine’s Day, a year after the video went viral, ‘Oru Adaar Love’ releases not just in Malayalam but in Tamil and Kannada as ‘Kirik Love Story’, as well in Telugu as ‘Lovers Day’. Music is by Shaan Rahman. Sinu Siddharth is the DOP.

‘Oru Adaar Love’, produced by Ousepachan Movie House, releases in the UAE on Valentine’s Day.