Humour: High five 2019!

From heart-stopping cricket to heartwarming tabla, a quick look at the year’s highs
Nostalgia’s the reward for unrelenting ageing(Shutterstock)
Nostalgia’s the reward for unrelenting ageing(Shutterstock)
Updated on Dec 28, 2019 11:52 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByRehana Munir

It’s actually going to happen. Our lonely planet is both hurtling and limping towards the year of perfect vision. Twenty-twenty is lurking around the corner, with the promise of a fresh batch of unmissable original series, insignificant T20s and unanswerable existential questions. But for now, there’s the safety of year-end stock-taking. Nostalgia’s the reward for unrelenting ageing. So here’s a look at some of the highs of the year gone by as we dunk 2019 in the ocean of metaphors related to the passage of time.

TV thrills

There’s just so much good stuff to watch, it makes woeful underachievers of us all. (Except the sub-species that the indolent like me rely on for previews, links and reviews. When do they even sleep?) The Crown was majestic. I laughed my way through the Indian Office. And I’m saving Maisel for New Year’s Eve. But Fleabag, Season 2! I look up in awe at whichever branch of screenwriting heaven Phoebe Waller-Bridge has descended from. When Andrew Scott’s Hot Priest notices Fleabag breaking the fourth wall…what a mind-blowingly gratifying meta moment! Even tastier than the “Get on your knees” command in the confession box. Forbidden fruit of such deliciousness.

(From left) Deepika appeared in opulent gowns at the Met Gala, Cannes and IIFA this year
(From left) Deepika appeared in opulent gowns at the Met Gala, Cannes and IIFA this year

Musical highs

December’s a good month for just about anything soulful. This year, the part-African, part-Scandinavian jazz band Monoswezi put up a stirring and immersive performance at a few Indian venues. It’s rare to find such authenticity in any live music, especially one that is so eclectic in its influences. Then there was the 50th anniversary of Mumbai’s NCPA, marked by recitals from some of the stalwarts of Hindustani music. The Zakir Hussain concert made me half-believe that his tabla beats were the prototype for the heartbeat. And for that marginalised species called the pre-millennials, U2’s Joshua Tree concert in Mumbai (their first ever in the country) was a nostalgia-fuelled, tech-propelled rush. Speaking of rush, the food and loo queues did their best to kill the high. The especially chartered concert train, however, was a rock version of the Hogwarts Express, making light work of the distance to the venue.

Fashion anachronism? It’s tempting to just say “Ranveer Singh”, but this year, Deepika Padukone threw her obscenely opulent gowns into the ring!

Fashion anachronism

It’s tempting to just say “Ranveer Singh” and end the matter. But this year, Deepika Padukone threw her obscenely opulent gowns into the ring. Actor Billy Porter arriving at the Oscars in a tuxedo-and-gown combination was both exciting and thought-provoking. But my pick for the year gone by is not, in fact, a look but a concept. It’s 2019, and we’re reading about debutante balls in Paris attended by Indian star kids. Actually, let’s shift this to the funny moments section.

Sporting surprises

Now this is an easy pick. Once India lost the semi-final to New Zealand in an ODI that stretched across two days, we thought we had seen it all. In hindsight, it was the hara bhara kebab served before the biryani. Who’d’ve thunk that an England versus New Zealand final could evoke such strong sentiments in subcontinental fans? The five controversial runs, the tie, the super over, the tied super over, the boundary count back rule (which seemed like it was made up on the spot)! To add to the stress, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were engaged in a kind of gruelling duel at Wimbledon that one only reads about in medieval accounts. In the end, it was a two-screen sporting evening that a generation will never forget. Also, how was that five runs?!

Dark humour

SRK being self-deprecating on David Letterman’s show. Rahul Bose ranting about overpriced bananas at a hotel – and the memes that followed. Chetan Bhagat admitting to being the most overrated author on a Twitter thread – and then being called out for thinking of himself as an author. The year has had its moments. But none as hysterically funny as what went down in Maharashtra in the name of government formation. I’ve read Beckett plays that were less absurd.

Rehana Munir’s first novel titled Paper Moon is now on stands

From HT Brunch, December 29, 2019

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