TV, trends, people and sports: Highlights of 2018
The year of the Bollywood bride wore a few other faces, tooUpdated: Dec 29, 2018 22:23 IST
The end of the year makes poets, philosophers and lovers of us all. But if you’ve been anywhere close to a print publication, digital device or sentient being this December, chances are it has been hijacked by Bollywood. I am unable to construct a coherent thought, blinded as I am by Sabyasachi. So let’s begin at the end, working our way through the rest, in no particular order.
What Anushka began in Lake Como, Sonam lured back to Mumbai, Deepika returned to Italy and Priyanka lugged everywhere. From bridal showers in NYC to Bengaluru poojas, and from nuptials in Rajasthani palaces to power receptions in New Delhi, we’ve seen and suffered it all. In this haze of flashbulb memories, some images stand out. PeeCee’s disturbingly long wedding veil, begging to be psychoanalysed. A gloriously out-there Bollywood reception from DeepVeer. And Virat Kohli being cutesy in Manyavar’s one-year wedding anniversary ad. (They should broadcast that ad in the Aussie dressing room just to boost their morale.) As for the super-mega-staggering-stupendous extravagance that was the Ambani-Piramal wedding, it beat Bollywood at its own self-obsessed game, reducing glittering celebs to dancing props and overdressed servers. Also, writing about the wedding might be a taxable act, so I better skip to the next section.
Marvelling at Mrs Maisel
It’s been a tough-talking, sharp-shooting, hard-drinking year of entertainment. Here at home, the menace of Sacred Games and Ghoul was amplified by the gritty Mirzapur (terrific performances). I plumbed the bottomless depths of Patrick Melrose (Cumberbatch at his best) and found some happy escape in Badhaai Ho, but missed the much-acclaimed Andhadhun. Bohemian Rhapsody proved to be easy come, easy go, though the singalong bits with the stunningly talented Rami Malek were fun. And Australian comic Hannah Gadsby delivered a gut-wrenching Netflix special, Nanette, exploring feminist and queer issues with astonishing courage and power. But the showbiz star of the year was undoubtedly the twinkly-eyed and quick-witted lead of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. Celebrating a Jewish (near-)divorced mother of two in comedy in the late 1950s and early ’60s, Season 2 of the show returns the smile to your face. Though it raises gender and class issues throughout its perky plotline, I’ll admit it’s not too fussed about keeping it real. But I’ll take the safe, wish-fulfillment approach in these dark times, thank you very much. Watch, watch, watch!
We lost Sridevi in February, too suddenly, too soon. I cannot think of another movie star who made such a big impact on my growing-up years in Bombay in the ’80s. She was it for us Hindi film-obsessed middle-class kids – beautiful, feisty and goofy all at once. Farewell, Hawa Hawaii. Never will there be another. Much like the man who gave the food dream a rock and roll quality. For Anthony Bourdain, it didn’t begin and end with the lightest puff pastry or the tastiest truffle. It was everything around it, too. Sitting with Obama on low plastic stools in a Hanoi restaurant. Exploring Wong Kar-wai’s Hong Kong. Telling us what never to order on which day of the week. Glugging beers outside the seamy exits of restaurants. He did something with food, travel and television that was unique and admirable; he mixed gourmet with grunge. Another heartbreaking reminder about the demons that haunt even the brightest and most successful among us.
Steps towards equality
The #MeToo movement gathered steam in India, with big names in the media being called out for sexual harassment and assault. Many well-known names were called out, and there were consequences, all on the back of brave revelations. The highlight, for me, was women rallying around each other, not letting the dominant narrative decide what’s important and what’s not. The matter of consent, respect and equal rights became part of the public discourse. In September 2018, Section 377 was read down, decriminalising homosexual acts, giving the LGBTQ community a joyous reason to wave the rainbow flag. While the rights of individuals were being upheld by popular movements and progressive legislation, thousands of dispossessed farmers marched to Delhi during the Kisan Long March in October, and Kisan Mukti March in November. Debt relief and better prices for crops were two of the big demands. Here’s hoping the state, and we its citizens, can do right by those who sustain us in the year to come.
With all the weddings in town, are you as blinded as I am with Sabyasachi?
Supermoms and bad boys
Tennis great Serena Williams played many roles this past year: doting mother, returning superstar, racist cartoon, feminist poster girl. That’s a lot of work, whether you approach it in a catsuit or a tutu. Such an abundance of talent and boldness of positions. I may not always agree with her, but I’m always interested. Another mother, Mary Kom, fought her way to a record sixth gold at the World Boxing Championships. The tireless Leander Paes created Davis Cup history with a record 43rd win. As for cricket, Kohli’s boys landed a morale-boosting win in their first Test of the Australia tour. India won a hard-fought game by a mere 31 runs, breaking all kinds of records, with the surly skipper breaking into gestures and language that you surely wouldn’t find in a Manyavar ad.
And finally, a reminder about a memorable act of subversion at Sotheby’s auction house in October. A painting by underground British artist Banksy, Girl with Balloon, shred itself to bits as soon as the piece was declared sold, reinstating irreverence at the heart of the artistic project. The evolved piece – half shredded and the object of global attention –is now called Love is in the Bin.
Wish you all a fun, brave and compassionate 2019!
From HT Brunch, December 30, 2018
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First Published: Dec 29, 2018 22:23 IST