One endearing gesture on film was all it took to transform Priya Prakash Varrier into an internet sensation. During Valentine's week, the Indian actress received widespread admiration after a short clip of her winking in the movie went viral on social media.
The 18-year-old from the state of Kerala is set to make her debut in Omar Lulu's upcoming Malayalam language film Oru Adaar Love. The film features a song titled Manikya Malaraya Poovi where Varrier playfully raises her eyebrows and winks at a male classmate, played by Roshan Abdul Rahoof.
Though just 30 seconds long, the sequence quickly garnered millions of fans who shared it on platforms like Twitter and WhatsApp. Meanwhile, the clip on YouTube garnered more than 28 million views over a week.
In fact, Varrier even found an admirer in South African cricketer Lungi Ngidi, who retweeted the clip with the caption "Valentine's Day Done".
Instagram was not left behind as the actress gained more than 600,000 followers in a day, a feat which makes her only the third celebrity to do so after Kylie Jenner and Cristiano Ronaldo. The verified account has swiftly risen in popularity, currently boasting 3.7 million followers.
A second Valentine's Day teaser, where the character pretended to cock a gun before making a shooting gesture, also went viral in the form of memes.
In the age of instant consumption, social media has introduced a new dimension to fame.
Similar to this case, a photograph of a blue-eyed tea vendor from Pakistan went viral on Twitter in 2016. Arshad Khan received compliments from all around the world for his piercing eyes as #ChaiWala began trending even in places like London.
It seems as though the average person is just one trending story or photo away from stardom.
However, as always, there is a dark side to all of this as well. Internet users can also directly bully or hurt the reputation of established figures, a collective tactic referred to as "takedown culture".
Despite overwhelming love from viewers, one controversy has reared its head to go against the seemingly harmless video of Varrier.
A group of individuals in Hyderabad filed a case on Wednesday, 14 February, on the grounds that the song featured in the video offended religious sentiments. The complaint alleged that the lyrics mentioned Prophet Mohammed and his wife Hazrath Khadeeja in a manner that was hurtful to the sentiments of Muslims.
Speaking to news outlet CNN-News18, the complainant, Zaheer Khan, claimed that the song's lyrics are "against Muslim sentiments and are offensive to the followers of Prophet Mohammad".
"The picturisation of the song is a girl and boy romancing, which is hurting religious sentiments. We demand the song should be banned," he said.
Meanwhile, Syed Faisal, the Assistant Commissioner of Police of Hyderabad's Falaknuma Division, said, "The complainants have raised objection both to the lyrics of the song and the visuals. We have registered a case and are investigating."
A day after the complaint was lodged, the Raza Academy from Mumbai also condemned the song, urging that India's Central Board of Film Certification should block the video.
News portal News18 quoted Muhammad Saeed Noori, founder and president of Raza Academy, as saying, "The lyrics of the song are of a Malayalam folk song which is only sung during the events of Muslims. Using it in movies or any form of entertainment is against the Islamic laws. If the song is not removed from the film, then the members of Raza Academy will protest nationwide."
Director Omar Lulu, however, has stood his ground, saying that he will not remove the song even if he is required to take the legal route. Kerala's Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has also come out in support of the song, stating that an artist's freedom of creative expression cannot be compromised.