A for ANIMAL: This monstrous hit has helped its hero, or rather anti-hero, Ranbir Kapoor break into the Rs 500 crore club at the domestic box-office for the first time in his career despite being panned by a section of critics for its toxic misogyny, excessive violence, sexist and chauvinist attitude. Calling his detractors “illiterate and uneducated”, director Sandeep Vanga Reddy has already announced a sequel, Animal Farm, with the possibility of an epic trilogy, promising that it will be “bigger, darker and meaner”. Now that’s a beastly prediction!
B for BARBENHEIMER: From child’s play to an adult fantasy comedy, Barbie has grown up and how! Highest grossing film of 2023. Highest grossing comedy film ever. Highest grossing film by a solo woman director. Warner Bros’ highest grossing film. To add to the highs, it has earned 11 Grammys nominations, 18 nods for Critics’ Choice Awards, nine for the Golden Globes and heads the Oscar shortlist with five.
Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, chronicling the journey of J Robert Oppenheimer, the ‘Father of the Atomic Bomb’, exploded on the same Friday as Barbie to become the highest grossing biographical film and the highest grossing World War II-related film. The two films together flagged off the ‘Barbenheimer’ phenomenon.
C for CROSSOVER: Hindi films have finally become pan-India with the cross-pollination of talent between Bollywood and regional cinema. So, despite the debacle of Prabhas, Kriti Sanon and Saif Ali Khan’s Adipurush, Ranbir Kapoor, Sai Pallavi and Yash are prepping for Ramayan in 2024 while the phenomenal success of Shah Rukh Khan, Vijay Sethupathi and Nayanthara’s Atlee-directed Jawan has created a buzz around Siddharth Anand’s War 2 featuring Hrithik Roshan and Jr. NTR. Nag Ashwin’s Kalki 2898 AD with Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Haasan, Prabhas and Deepika Padukone and Rajinikanth, Big B and Rana Duggabatti’s Thailavar 170 among at least 25 such collaborations will further cement the crossover trend.
D for DEEPFAKES: A video of Rashmika Mandana in a black yoga suit entering the elevator quickly went viral. Turned out it was actually social media influencer Zara Patel digitally altered to look like the actress who made her displeasure felt about such deepfake videos in a public statement. Sara Tendulkar has also complained of being impersonated on X.
Alia Bhatt and Priyanka Chopra are other victims of the AI technology with the latter’s voice digitally altered and her original lines edited to promote a brand. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described this misuse of AI technology “worrying” after watching a fake video of himself performing the garba at a function he didn’t attend.
E for EMMY: Jim Sarbh, Best Actor (Drama) nominee for Rocket Boys, may have lost to The Responder’s Martin Freeman while Karla Souza won the Best Actress Emmy for the Mexican drama series Dive, edging out Delhi Crime’s DCP Vartika Chaturvedi IPS aka Shefali Shah. But Vir Das did the country proud winning the coveted award for his Netflix Special, Vir Das Landing, which was adjudged Best Comedy. Subsequently, he became the first Indian comedian to perform at London’s iconic Apollo Theatre.
The Tsarina of daily soaps and women-centric films, Ekta Kapoor, was also honoured with the International Emmy Directorate Award for her contributions to the world of arts and entertainment.
F for FARZI: Shahid Kapoor’s digital debut Farzi was the most-searched OTT show of 2023 with other crime thrillers, Rana and Venkatesh Daggubatti’s Rana Naidu and RajKummar Rao’s Guns & Gulaabs, also sparking off much curiosity. In its second season, Asur and Sex/Life, and Bigg Boss in Season 17, also remained long-running favourites with viewers looking forward to Jubilee returning with its next season.
G for GOOGLE PLAY:
Monopoly Go! |
Level SuperMind: Focus & Calm was adjudged Best App and Best for Personal Growth in Google Play’s annual showcase with THAP: Your Happiness Gym as the Users’ Choice App. Monopoly Go! has been voted the Best Game of 2023. Subway Surfers Blast is the Users Choice Game while the Best Made in India Game is Battle Stars 4v4 TDM & BR.
H for HORROR:
Evil Dead Rise |
Evil Dead Rise has become the highest grossing film in the series with worldwide collection of $146 million. Ditto Insidious: The Red Door, another supernatural horror film and the fifth instalment in the Insidious franchise. Two other Hollywood offerings, The Pope’s Exorcist and The Nun II, ruled the Indian box-office while Vikram Bhatt’s 1920: Horrors of the Heart, the fifth film in his 1920 Bollywood franchise, was a surprise hit.
I for ICC WORLD CUP:
ICC World Cup 2023 |
The 2023 edition was the most watched event in the history of cricket with the final between India and Australia setting a new record with 130 million views, followed by the semi-final between India and New Zealand with 80 million views and the India-Pakistan match with 75 million views. A staggering 30 crore people watched the final on TV, setting world records with peak digital concurrency of 5.9 crore and peak TV concurrency of 13 crore. What was disappointing was that after a great run up to the finals, India stumbled at the last hurdle, letting Australia walk away with the trophy and reducing King (Virat) Kohli to tears.
J for Jis Lahore Nahi Dekhya...: Designed and directed by Dinesh Thakur, Ank Theatre Group’s long-running play Jis Lahore Nahi Dekhya O Jamyai Hi Nai, which opened in January 2003, recently completed a 400-show run. Theatre in Mumbai saw another record-breaking achievement.
Vijay Kenkre, son of renowned director Damu Kenkre and talented actress Lalita, became the first Marathi director to direct 100 plays without realising he had reached the milestone till his wife, Mangal, pointed it out.
K for KERALA: Jude Anthony’s highest grossing Malayalam film, 2018, inspired by the floods in Kerala in 2018, was India’s official entry for the Academy Awards. Though it did not make the Oscar shortlist, the film’s leading man, Tovino Thomas, was the first South Indian Actor to win the Best Actor Award at the Septimius Awards in Netherlands for his performance.
Sudipto Sen’s The Kerala Story, despite litigations and protests, was also a surprise blockbuster with a worldwide gross of Rs 300 crore. Panned for its Islamophobic propaganda, this story of four nursing students recruited into the Islamic State, was supported by the RSS and the BJP, and even endorsed by PM Modi during an election rally in Karnataka.
K-Dramas continue to find favour, from an office romance (King The Land), revenge-thriller (The Glory) to supernatural romcom (My Demon). There was even a historical drama (My Dearest) set during the Qing invasion inspired by the 1936 novel Gone with the Wind.
L for LOVE, ACTUALLY: Kiara Advani, who tied the knot with her Shershaah co-star Sidharth Malhotra, on February 7, 2023, was the top searched person on Google. The couple’s wedding photograph on Instagram was India’s most liked picture with 16 million likes.
M for MATTHEW PERRY:
Matthew Perry |
The ‘90s sitcom Friends made Chandler everyone’s friend, so it came as a shock to Matthew Perry’s fans in India to learn that he had drowned in a hot tub on October 28. In his 2022 memoir, the actor had shared his struggles with drug addiction. The autopsy report revealed that he was taking testosterone injections which were making him angry and mean. However, his Friends co-star Jennifer Aniston shared that in the days prior to his shock demise, Matthew had been optimistic about the future. He had even asked his doctors to gradually reduce his reliance on Ketamine and Buprenorphine used to treat his addiction. So, then, was it suicide or an accident that killed him? Guess we will never know!
N for NAATU NAATU: SS Rajamouli’s RRR, headlined by Ram Charan and Junior NTR, had the world dancing to “Naatu Natatu”. MM Keeravani’s catchy composition won the Oscar and the Golden Globe for Best Original Song. It was a double whammy for India at the Academy Award with not just the Telugu period action drama becoming the first Indian full-length feature film to bag an Oscar, but Kartiki Gonsalves’ The Elephant Whisperers also bringing the statuette home for Best Documentary (Short Subject).
O for ORRY:
Social media sensation and Bigg Boss 17 contestant Orhan Awatramani grabbed eyeballs not just on the reality show, but also off-camera with his revelations that he charges Rs 20-30 lakh per selfie and wants to marry a rich girl. He entered the House with seven suitcases, reasoning that if Lata Mangeshkar was a singer because she sang, he was a liver because he lives. “Who’s Orry?” was a question that even Karan Johar’s posed on his Koffee show.
P for PREGNANCY: Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli’s secret was out during the recent ICC World Cup when the actress was seen flaunting a baby bump. This will be the couple’s second child after daughter Vamika. While many celebrity children were born in 2023, none sparked as much curiosity as Ileana D’Cruz’s “little darling” after she announced her pregnancy on social media on April 18, with a onesie and a pendant with the word “mama”, and without naming the “papa”. The actress welcomed her son, Kao Pheonix Dolan, on August 1, and finally introduced the world to her partner with a blurry black-and-white picture, followed by a clearer one. He is not Katrina Kaif’s brother as was speculated, but Michael Dolan whom she had married in May.
Q FOR QUEEN: Kangana Ranaut continues to be in the news periodically despite the fact that Tejas crash-landed, Chandramukhi 2 never took off and even her debut production, Tiku Weds Sheru, failed to impress despite starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui. She sided with Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani, asserting that mensuration is not “some illness or handicap” and so women don’t need paid leave for periods. Meanwhile, her father has confirmed that the actress, who plays Indira Gandhi in her second directorial Emergency, will contest the Lok Sabha elections in 2024, on a BJP ticket.
R for RICKY KEJ:
Ricky Kej |
The Indian composer created history by completing a hattrick, collaborating with five-time Grammy-winner and American rock legend Stewart Copeland to become only the fourth Indian, and the youngest, to win the most coveted music award. He bagged a Grammy for the first time in 2015, for Winds of Change, and a second in 2022 when Divine Tides was voted ‘Best New Age Album’. This year Divine Tides was adjudged ‘Best Immersive Audio Album’ and Ricky dedicated his third award to India.
S for SHAH RUKH KHAN:
Finally, it was the Badshah who saved Bollywood from being overrun by South cinema. Drawing viewers back to the theatres after the prolonged pandemic lockdown, he became the first Hindi cinema hero in recent times to deliver three blockbusters, Pathaan, Jawan and Dunki, in a single year. At 59, he heads the 2023 ‘Top 5- Asian Celebrities in the World’ list and his Jhoome jo Pathaan is the most popular Bollywood song.
T for TELGI: After Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, Hansal Mehta returned with Scam 2003: The Telgi Story. The riveting second instalment in the franchise, stamped the image of Abdul Karim Telgi, a convicted counterfeiter sentenced to 30 years of rigorous imprisonment, in public memory. Mehta also grabbed headlines with another web series, Scoop, inspired by Behind Bars in Byculla: My Days in Prison, the biographical memoir of Jigna Vora who was arrested for the murder of fellow journalist Jyotirmoy Dey in 2011.
U for UNESCO:
In a first-of-its-kind honour for India, Kozhikode was conferred the title of ‘City of Literature’ by UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. Earlier called Calicut, this Kerala city is home to two Jnanpith winners, MT Vasudevan Nair and SK Pottekkatt, along with the mother of poet Kamala Das, Balamani Amma, recipient of the Saraswati Samman. It has also nurtured other famous writers like P Valsala, KT Mohammed and Thikkodiyan and is the venue for one of the largest literary festivals. Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh was named the ‘City of Music’.
V for VICTORY CITY:
Salman Rushdie |
Salman Rushdie did not promote his 15th novel in public following the multiple stabbings in 2022, but Victory City, the fictional translation of an epic originally written in Sanskrit, still got the Booker Prize winning author plenty of traction and positive reviews. Meanwhile Perumal Murugan’s Pookkuzhi, translated in English as Pyre by Anirudh Vasudevanm, was the first Tamil novel to make the 2023 International Booker Prize longlist. Paul Lynch’s Prophet Song was the winner.
W FOR WAHEEDA REHMAN: After two Filmfare Best Actress Awards for Guide and Neel Kamal, and a BFJA Award for Teesri Kasam, along with the National Award for Reshma Aur Shera, Waheeda Rehman was presented with the 53rd Dadasaheb Phalke Lifetime Achievement Award at the 69th National Film Awards ceremony.
The veteran actress has been honoured with the Padma Shri in 1972 and the Padma Bhushan in 2011.
X for XTRA INNINGS: At 67, Sunny Deol is back in the race with a sequel which released 22 years after the original, Gadar: Ek Prem Katha. With a worldwide gross of Rs 691 crore on an investment of Rs 60 crore Gadar 2 is a surprise blockbuster. With this film and its recreated songs, including Main nikkla gaddi le ke, Sunny has forged a link with the next generation who are now watching his old hits.
Y FOR YOUTUBE YADAV: Elvish Yadav, a YouTube sensation with over 15 million subscribers on his channel, made history when he won Big Boss OTT 2 as a wild card entry. He then went on to make hissstory after he was summoned by the Noida Police in the snake venom rave party case. The Gurugram-based digital creator’s reaction to fellow Temptation Island contestant Nikita Bhamidipati, who he believes is the perfect match for him, also had the internet buzzing.
Z for ZOYA AKHTAR: Zoya Akhtar’s cinematic adaptation of The Archies comics, with Suhana Khan, Khushi Kapoor and Agastya Nanda as Veronica, Betty and Archie, respectively, fanned the nepotism debate. But SRK and Sridevi’s daughters and the Bachchan grandson made the teen musical the most watched film on Netflix.