It has been said countless times already, but I must say it once again — 2020 has been morbid, and it’s difficult to find a silver lining for this past year. But even in this darkness, some stars have shone bright and won our hearts over with their humour, art, resilience and empathy. Here’s my list of five stars India discovered in 2020.
Here is one star kid with whom Kangana Ranaut can’t possibly have a problem. Jamie Lever, daughter of Indian comedy legend Johnny Lever, won many hearts on Instagram with her on-point impressions of Bollywood icons. Her ‘good morning’ song, inspired by baritone-goddess Usha Uthup, carried the energy that could easily get people out of their beds every morning. And the memory of her Asha Bhosle style-chuckle gave people doing household chores a reason to break into a random smirk.
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Johnny Lever has for long been the character artist who breathed life into the most badly written movie scenes, and one can’t talk enough about his contribution to Indian cinema. It’s a delight to see that Jamie has picked up her father’s penchant for comedy, especially because her art is completely different from her father’s. She brings out a uniqueness that is her own.
The year 2020 introduced us to the fantastic artist in Jamie, and we can only hope we get to see more of her going forward. Alternatively, Jamie could build a career as a singer too. Hope she comes out with an EP of her own.
After bringing to light Rashi ben’s unfathomable, unpardonable crime of leaving a khaali (empty) cooker on the gas in the rasoda, many must have thought Yashraj Mukhate was a one-hit-wonder.
But with Twada Kutta Tommy, Saada Kutta Kutta, Mukhate’s work spoke for itself. Of the many memes that went viral, and filled the black void of 2020 with intermittent laughter, Mukhate’s meme-worthy videos seem to have won the show.
Unlike most cases, wherein an average person enjoys viral content without really caring about the content, these videos actually compelled viewers to Google the creator’s name and send regards to him. Yashraj Mukhate is a genius gem that Indians discovered, enjoyed, celebrated along with YouTube India, and now expect to see more and more of.
Danish Sait isn’t a new celebrity. Most people in Bengaluru will recognise his voice if they hear it on the street, thanks to his radio jockey stint at Fever FM. But he became a YouTube phenomenon during the lockdown when he began to gain national popularity with his hilarious sketches that found funny in the mundane, Seinfeld style.
Hearing Sait’s characters, like Bangalore bro, Ramamurthy Avare, Chacha, Jaya, and Bevarsi Kudka, talk about everyday predicaments and poke fun at the privileged lockdown experience of India’s middle-class was truly gratifying.
Videos like ‘Conversations with excited alcoholics during lockdown, ‘Conversations during lockdown Ramzan’, and ‘Conversations with Corona Conspiracy theorists’ made him an internet sensation. He later went on to reprise the role of Mr Nags, “the stereotypical Bangalorean”, who was sort of a mascot of Royal Challengers Bangalore during the Indian Premier League. Mr Nags fetched the juiciest gossip for fans of the team.
The joy of watching Sait’s videos can also be derived from the fact that his characters aren’t representing North Indians as the default ‘Indian’ archetype. The mainstreaming of Southern characters’ accents and quirks, with bits of Kannada thrown in as casually as Punjabi, actually does our pop culture a huge favour, as not all of India resides in the Hindi heartland. Indians recognise, accept, and celebrate this diversity.
The Dabangg actor has been a popular face for a while now, but this year when Sonu Sood rose to the occasion of helping migrant labourers and other people stranded in the lockdown, he became truly visible. And not just as another face on the screen exchanging smart lines with a superstar like Salman Khan, but the kind of celebrity all of India needs to look up to. In the year of barely any new superhero movies, we still had this Robin Hood.
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At a time when the frenzy around actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death was at its peak and many believed that the best of Bollywood was involved in a large conspiracy to kill him, Sonu Sood proved the power of celebrity, and reinstated India’s dying faith in its filmy heroes. He could be credited with saving face of the Indian film industry, which was embroiled in a PR disaster that painted it as a place full of nepotistic drug addicts. Sood carried Bollywood’s credibility on his shoulders in the eyes of the public. His philanthropy during the lockdown made him the most trustworthy face in Maharashtra, perhaps even more than political leaders and the government of the day.
Here’s the show stopper of the year, the dog with an eye patch — Mr Butter Khatri, is a whole mood. His naps in awkward positions, the tendency to flinch when his exes are named, and rejection of healthy food made a lot of us on Instagram relate with the good boy.
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And did anything bring us more joy this year than pets doing cute things on social media? I think not. Seeing this Instagram sensation doing his thing brought a lot of sunshine to his follower’s lives when their days were the darkest. Here’s wishing he learns many new tricks in 2021, and continues to spread more joy!
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