vadivelu: Meet the Tamil illustrator on a mission to crack the internet with jokes Vadivelu
In one of Divya Thirunavukkarasu’s popular Instagram reels, the illustrator explores a fun problem most of us in the post-pandemic world are familiar with — having to take online classes with a glitchy internet. But the reel, which has garnered over a million views, is adored not only for its relatable animation, but also for the appropriate dialogue from Vadivelu (Enna Thongirichu, from the film Nagaram Maruppakam) that accompanies it in the background.
It’s just one of many emotive animation reels of Divya she releases under Chumkiii Tales (named after her pet name coined by her father), which has served as a balm to many who seek happiness through art during the pandemic. His viral reels often feature quirky animation navigating everyday issues, with Vadivelu dialogue in the background. “Every aspect of our lives has proper dialogue with Vadivelu sir who can play in the background,” smiled Divya, adding, “My goal is to create authentic Tamil content that can also entertain and make people smile.”
Divya, who is based in Viluppuram, says it all started with pen and paper. “I’m a painter and during the pandemic I’ve seen a lot of digital artwork online. So, I thought why not try my hand at the same time. I wanted to create a version of my own character, which took me about two months. I wanted the doodle to look funny and cute, and I also sketched out the whole look, centered on the pandemic,” she says, adding that she kept her character’s look simple to reflect the phase of work from home in the world.
And making short videos was a natural progression, at a time when people were developing an appetite for fun, short content, she adds. “People have become quite obsessed with reels during the pandemic and I wanted to try it out with animation. I wanted to do different reels than the ones that already exist – mostly using trending world music. I wanted to create some content in Tamil. That’s when I decided to do something about Mr. Vadivelu’s comedy, which is universal and relatable,” says Divya.
His animations cover topics ranging from working from home to everyday kitchen problems, peppered with fun Vadivelu references. But the first reel she made was animation synchronized with popular dialogue from the 2008 film Ellam Avan Seyal (Ovaru aalum kadaisi varaikum en kuda irupennu sathyam panunga…. Enna gap-u? Indha gap-u dhan enakku vekka pora aapa ?). “The reel just blew up and I didn’t expect so much love from people for a mashup like this. I haven’t seen many animation mashups with Tamil pop culture, and I had proof that there was an audience for it,” she says.
But the hardest part of the process is matching the animation’s facial expressions to Vadivelu’s, she notes. “When Vadivelu sir expresses in a scene, avaru vai, mooku, kannu, ellam pesum. So I tried my best to recreate the same in my illustrations, even though his expressions are unmatched,” she says, adding that takes him about three hours to complete a video.
There has been huge recognition for local artists during the pandemic, Divya points out, adding, “People also appreciate authentic art with a local connection. That said, there are many more illustrators who do an amazing job with the technique but are still not highly regarded. But we are getting there. »