“Vayyaveli…Vayyaveli….Vayyaveli…..minnnuminangana midumidukki, nadu kidukkana nanamkunungi…”.
The Malayalam lyrics, if loosely translated, describe a beautiful, coy girl who is now giving sleepless nights to the whole town. The lyrics are from a promotional music video for Saritha’s upcoming film Vayyaveli, directed by VV Santosh. In Malayalam, the word Vayyaveli means something that causes vexation or more informally, gives someone a pain in the neck.
Saritha S Nair knows her moves.
More than anyone else, Kerala’s embattled Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy and some of his cabinet colleagues, who are fighting to save their ministerial berths in the wake of the multi-crore solar scam, know that too well.
Solar Saritha, as she is known in the local media, seems to know a few more moves other than cornering top politicians with serious allegations. She is now trying her luck in Kerala’s film industry and has already made appearances in a few short films and music videos, to cash in on her new-found stardom. Her YouTube videos already draw millions of views. The Vayyaveli video, released just last week, has so far logged over 260,000 views.
Quite arguably, in the history of Kerala politics, rarely has there been an instance when one woman — a little-known personality in Kerala’s political landscape — has managed to take on the power centres, even dragging the chief minister to court with a series of corruption allegations and sexual exploitation — for which she claims to have video and audio proof.
Saritha now certainly commands more popularity in Kerala households, even belittling film stars and public personalities on TV channels. She is a TRP-magnet for channels in prime time news shows. Saritha’s public appearances and press interactions are festivals to local reporters, especially those from TV channels. Newspapers compete with each other to cover ‘Solar Saritha’. Youths rush to get a glimpse of her and if possible click a selfie with her.
It’s only logical for Saritha to encash her new-found stardom and transform herself from a controversial figure to a starlet.
The lyrics of Saritha’s Vayyaveli promo video — which has already gone viral — are interesting. Often, it sounds like direct references to those politicians targeted by Saritha in the scam: “Veli thane vilavu thinnana kalam….vegathayil theernnu pokum kalam…Vila koduthal enthum kittum kalam….Vazhi maridunnu manavante kolam…” (A time when the fence eats the crop…. When time gets lost in speed… A time when money can buy anything and people change).
Besides Vayyaveli, Saritha is also rumoured to be acting in a big-budget Malayalam film being made by filmmaker Shaji Kailas, with Suresh Gopi in the lead role. The film, named Thalasthanam (capital), is said to be loosely based on the solar scam. That apart, Saritha has also acted in short films Gulfkarante Bharya and Anthyakoodasha.
Saritha continues with her dance moves…
Pallotti muttai… kadala muttai… kadikkanu kashtayi…
As Saritha loses herself in her dance moves, the Congress leadership in Kerala — including Chandy and his cabinet colleagues — are struggling to wriggle out of the solar scam. Evidently, the whole episode has massively damaged the image of Chandy and his party just a few months ahead of the state Assembly election.
The chief minister had to depose before the Solar commission — a panel that is investigating the scam. The Opposition is seeking his resignation on the matter and has threatened widespread agitation if Chandy refuses to vacate his post. On Friday, high drama ensued in the Kerala Assembly at the very start of the budget session with Opposition leaders raising slogans against Chandy, prompting Governor P Sathasivam to ask Opposition members to "sit quietly or leave the House" as they tried to disrupt his address on the first day of this year's session.
Saritha, deposing before the Solar commission, had alleged that she had paid Rs 1.9 crore to a close aide of Chandy and Rs 40 lakh to Power Minister Aryadan Muhammed in exchange for favourable decisions for their solar company. Both Chandy and Muhammed have denied the allegations. Saritha also alleged that some politicians sexually harassed her. Even as the allegations have dropped the Chandy government into one of the biggest political crises in Kerala's political history, Saritha is unperturbed by the immense media attention on her.
Instead, she wants to use this to plan her next step.
The Alappuzh-born 38-year old, mother of two, doesn’t worry too much about the threats on her life ever since she levelled allegations against Chandy. “I will produce more names of people involved in the scam in a sealed envelope to the commission,” Saritha said.
Solar Saritha is continuing with her dance steps, singing her favourite lines from the Vayyaveli song and planning her next moves, probably, in Kerala’s film industry.
“Madhuranaranga kadichu thinnana kalam… chila nerangalil kaippanijna kalam… chila pambukalkku gajarajayogam…”