« Back to articlePrint this article

The A to Z of 2016

January 12, 2017 12:49 IST

It was the year 'anti-national' became the 'it' gaali, and our humble haldi-doodh became the toast of the West's wellness brigade as 'Tumeric Latte.' It was the year 'cash' became unholy and 'fake news' became real. Shuma Raha looks back.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/ 


Anti-national: The "it" gaali of 2016. You could be hit with it if you were so subversive as to not want sloganeering students in jail. Or if you opposed the government's currency ban or, heaven forbid, supported the idea of Pakistani artists working in Bollywood. 

Bhagat, as in Chetan: The bestselling novelist's latest, One Indian Girl, gave the skinny on what it's like to be a high-flying Indian girl. Apparently it's got a lot to do with Brazilian waxes and laugh-riot oral sex. 

Cash: It's as unholy as cow slaughter after the note ban. But look at the positives. Language is being reinvented. "Cashless" now means "less cash" and e-batuas are a fashion statement. One regret: The hot pink Rs 2,000 note does NOT carry a nano GPS chip.

Dangal: It's a smash hit. But did Aamir Khan flub his social messaging this time? How women-friendly is it to show a wrestling champ de-feminising his daughters and forcing them to be, what else, wrestling champs?

Elena Ferrante: The Italian author, who uses a pseudonym and is famous for her brilliant Neapolitan novels, was "outed" as Anita Raja, a Rome-based translator. Did we really need to know that?

Fake news: Bogus news swamped the internet, driven primarily by the US presidential campaign. For example: "Hillary Clinton runs a child sex ring." Face it, real news -- you can't compete with such scintillating stuff.

Game of Thrones: Season Six was a scorcher. Jon Snow came back to life, Sansa Stark got her revenge, and Westeros went up in flames. (Er, no, winter didn't come.)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: The 8th book of the series (Harry is 37 here!) is the script of a play J K Rowling co-wrote with two other persons. For magic, head back to the earlier books.

Islamic dress: Burkinis got many a French knicker in a twist and Germany moved to ban the niqab. Out here trolls savaged cricketer Mohammed Shami for posting a photo of his wife without a niqab. 

Jingoism: Most TV channels throbbed with it after the Uri terror attack. Let's teach Pakistan a lesson, went the war cry. Thank god for the surgical strike on the line of control and the subsequent currency ban. Else, we'd still be hollering for war.

Kisses: The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) passed Aditya Chopra's film Befikre with its 23 kisses intact. Is CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani losing his touch? Will we see more smooching in films in 2017?

Loss: Of so many beloved cultural icons this year. David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Mahasweta Devi, Harper Lee, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Carrie Fisher… RIP.

Misogyny: Donald Trump showed it was okay to attack women. An all-women remake of Ghostbusters was viciously trolled. Sexism had a great run. 

National anthems: They became a potent cultural tool -- of coercion in India where citizens must stand whenever it is played, and of protest in the US, where some sportsmen refused to stand to flag worsening race relations.

Olympics: And the Olympian feats of India's women athletes. Shuttler P V Sindhu, wrestler Sakshi Malik and gymnast Dipa Karmakar shone at the Rio Games and did the country proud.

Post-truth:Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year means circumstances where appeals to emotion matter more than facts. Post-truth politics contributed to the Brexit vote and the election of a racist, former reality show star as US President. Get its power?

Queues: Notebandi forced us to queue up (to access our own money) like never before. The question is: Have we lost our penchant for the adrenaline rush that comes from jumping queues

Reality checks: You needed them -- to figure out RBI's latest rule or the PM 2.5 level of the air you're breathing, or simply to reassure yourself that India was still a democracy. 

Sultan: Salman Khan played a grizzled, fallible, has-been wrestler struggling to rise again. The movie, a monster hit, showed why Salman is Bollywood's Sultan nonpareil. 

Turmeric latte: Our humble haldi-doodh became the toast of the West's wellness brigade. Sadly, despite celebrity backers like Gwyneth Paltrow, it hasn't beaten café latte into extinction yet.

Udta Punjab: The Bombay High Court threw out CBFC's insane 94 cuts to the A-rated film. The Shahid Kapoor-starrer released with just one cut -- a leg-up for artistic freedom. 

VCR: The last video cassette recorder was manufactured this year by Japanese company (removed comma) Funai. A wonder from one's wonder years died a quiet death.

Women power: Women won the right to enter the inner sanctum of the Haji Ali Dargah and some Hindu temples. Next stop: Sabarimala temple in Kerala

X-Files, The: Agents Scully and Mulder returned to television after 14 years. But where, oh, where was the crackling menace of the original series? 

Yolk: Forget that sad egg white omelette. This year, we heard egg yolks are actually brimming with all sorts of good stuff. Yay for the yolk!

Zie: The gender neutral pronoun (as opposed to he/she) gained currency -- part of language's slow embrace of diversity.

Shuma Raha
Source: source image