For those of us who are online a lot, the reels section of Instagram is the enemy. The songs run in your head all day long and you find yourself craving cake more often than you should.
Some Instagram accounts, however, make this endless video viewing experience worth it. Meet four Tamil reel personalities who are authentic and usually always give their audience a smile to take back at the end of the day.
What sets them apart is that they showcase parts of their daily lives and do alter their reality to suit the needs of Instagram. They say that the display of their talents which were initially confined to their houses, has now transcended boundaries, making them micro-celebrities.
R Porchezhiyan who runs the page Saapaturaman.
R Porchezhiyan, known as @Saapaturaman on Instagram, has a follower count of 519k. His claim to fame is eating massive quantities of food — be it 108 medu vadas, 50 mushroom omelettes, 12 kilograms of nalla elambu or his favourite, three kilograms of mutton biryani.
“My son Sabarikumar asked me if we could start posting videos like mukbang (videos of people eating various quantities of food for an audience) because he knew about my ability to eat massive quantities of food. My mantra is simple. I eat only when I’m hungry but I eat very well,” he says. He adds that even the initial videos that they posted on YouTube in 2018 saw sizeable interest from their audience.
A still from Saapaturaman’s YouTube channel.
Porchezhiyan who is 60, is often asked how he digests massive quantities of food and still manages to stay thin. “I want people to know that they can certainly eat good quantities of food as long as it is made with healthy ingredients at home. My wife Selvi is in many ways the backbone of this channel as she cooks what we eat.”
“I did not think that YouTube and Instagram would become such an important part of my life,” he says, adding that he has finally admitted he is now an influencer. Porcheziyan would like to keep his audience guessing for more years to come. To ensure this, he will be travelling abroad soon to try crocodile meat and octopus to expand his palette and probably delight his audience.
‘Anyone can exercise’
Manjula Narayanan who runs her fitness Instagram page has over 100 k followers.
When Manjula Narayanan started her Instagram page @bfitwithmanju, it was a gloomy time as there was constant news of several deaths. “It was the thick of the second wave of COVID-19 and even young people were dying due to the pandemic. Despite being active for most of my life, I was slightly fearful,” she says.
To dispel some of this fear and ensure that more people had access to simple home workouts, she began her Instagram page which now has 124k followers.
“Someone told me that my page reminds them of their neighbour akka (sister) working out,” she says. After her daughter was born, she had completely forgotten she had a black belt in karate. This national karate champion, who needed a second income to run her household, was reminded of her talents only when she joined a school as a physical education teacher. That is when she again began exercising regularly. When the pandemic hit and she was looking for things to do, she thought about starting an Instagram page just to pass time and educate people.
Manjula runs an online 21-day exercise workshop.
Over the course of a year, she has received an overwhelmingly positive response, requests for classes and kind feedback from her followers. Manjula believes it is a judgement-free space.
To ensure that more women are active, Manjula and her frequent collaborator D Vijayasanthoshini, a psychologist, have come together to create a 21-day routine that can be done at home. “The only thing to keep in mind is to show up and stay committed towards working out which is indeed a form of self care,” she says.
Manjula is unassuming and does not like to be called an influencer. She says that she is merely doing her duty because she enjoys fitness.
R. Pushpalatha makes expansive meals on her instagram.
@LattosKitchen, which shows R Pushpalatha and her family cooking expansive menus for their daily lunch and dinner, began when her son-in-law and daughter decided to upload one of her special non-vegetarian Sunday meals on the app.
Each of these videos which has a following of 156k people, shows elaborate preparations of fish, mutton and chicken in different iterations of kolambu, thokku and varuval. On Sundays, this 54 year-old influencer’s menu includes a minimum of 10 items.
“I have three children. My two daughters are married and their husbands usually come over on Sundays for lunch. They are all influencers on Instagram and YouTube with a big online presence. We usually cook and eat together on Sundays as it is a designated ‘non-veg day’. As a joke, I told my son Rakesh, who now edits and manages my page, that he should start posting my cooking videos too. Eventually, the Sunday lunch videos became popular enough to garner three million views. It’s been great,” she says.
Pushpalatha adds, “I do nothing particularly out of the ordinary in my cooking videos but I’m glad when people tell me that my food looks good. I hope to post recipe videos so that people can enjoy the things I make, in their own houses.”
Actor Vinodhini who has appeared in several films has a thriving Instagram following.
Vinodhini Vaidyanathan, who already had a following of 30,000 by virtue of being an actor, found herself posting funny reels as a means of self expression when a film she acted in — Soorarai Potru — was released.
Ever since, she has posted videos on topics including influencing, Queen Elizabeth’s death and even the issue of production houses not paying GST that ideally needs to be paid while disbursing payments, all with a punch line that often elicits a chuckle. “I’ve always had several alternate opinions about things. Reels eventually ended up becoming a way to express myself and a lot of other pent up angst which often fuels my writing,” she says.
Other than writing the scripts, Vinodhini says that she finds herself putting in little or no effort into the process of reel making. It is probably her spontaneity that makes her click, she says. “If you notice, I’ve done a bunch of my reels in my nightie. I use my phone camera and use whatever lighting is available. People have already seen me in several costumes on screen. As long as the writing is good, I’m sure it will be okay,” she says.
Currently, Vinodhini has a running note on her phone with over 70 reel ideas but does not have enough time to execute it.
“I’m sometimes shocked when I hear that people are watching my reels as I often don’t realise that what I’m saying could have larger repercussions. However, several others before me have continued expressing what they want. I too am following that route,” she says.
She adds that although she has received some perks like getting a good caravan during shooting because of her reels, she does not expect any phenomenal impact as viewers will come and go, she says. “There is no takeaway from my reel. It’s just entertainment. However, I do wish to change the minds of at least 100 people and wish that they kept bowls of water for animals. I’m looking to create some awareness on that front,” she says.