By Taylor Swift
In the last week of the year, Taylor Swift’s ‘Anti-Hero’ from her recent album Midnights claimed the number one spot on the Pop Airplay chart. As of December 10, the album has been on the number one spot of the Billboard 200 albums chart for the fifth week in a row. According to the songstress, the album centres on “the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life”. Surely, it delivers. Tracks like ‘Snow on the Beach’ and ‘Lavender Haze’ seem designed to carry you through hazy times. With this album, Swift has certainly elevated her musical game.
The Queen B never fails to deliver. And that is exactly what she has done with her latest album, Renaissance. Was it possible to bid adieu to 2022 without a Beyonce album? We think not! With its mix of electronic, techno and disco beats, Renaissance has tracks that will transport you to the late 1990s and early 2000s. Must-listen songs include ‘Cozy’, ‘Energy’ and ‘Alien Superstar’.
Everything the Light Touches
By Janice Pariat
To say that Everything the Light Touches is ambitious would be an understatement. It tells the story of four characters divided by time and space. On the face of it, things seem disjointed. Each of them―whether it is the young woman who rediscovers herself in the northeast of India or the Cambridge student who sojourns to the sacred forests of the lower Himalayas―seems to be on a trajectory far removed from the others. But Janice Pariat skilfully ties together their stories, and ultimately, what we get is a searing tale that realigns many things in us that we had taken for granted.
By Navtej Sarna
For many, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre has been reduced to a distant chapter in history. But diplomat-turned-writer Navtej Sarna poignantly brings alive every aspect through his imaginative retelling of what happened. Intermingling history and fiction―he tells the tale through the perspective of nine characters whose lives were indelibly changed that day―Sarna gets the leeway to probe the tragedy as experienced by the people then, and the result is striking. The past telescopes into the present, and the book becomes a contemplation on what lends meaning to life, and what takes it away.
Tejo Tungabhadra―Tributaries of Time
By Vasudhendra; translated by Maitreyi Karnoor
Tejo Tungabhadra is a work of historical fiction that looks at the stories of ordinary people in the 15th century, when Vasco da Gama returned to Portugal from India, and suddenly the future teemed with possibilities. Two rivers in Portugal and India―the Tejo and the Tungabhadra―bear mute witness to the unfolding love stories of two couples. “For me, history means the common man’s story, and has nothing to do with kings and queens,” Vasudhendra told THE WEEK. Just like the rivers, the narrative will ensure that you are borne along in its dynamic flow.
In 1996, four activists of the Ayyankali Pada held the Palakkad district collector hostage for 10 hours, demanding that the Kerala government withdraw the amendments to the Kerala Scheduled Tribes Act of 1975. Within a few hours, the entire state administration was on its toes, trying to bring the situation under control. Pada is a faithful and detailed retelling of the incident, highlighting the plight and resistance of a marginalised people who were at the receiving end of government apathy. Directed by Kamal K.M., the movie is a brilliantly acted, taut hostage thriller that holds a mirror to a society quick to abandon its underprivileged.
The Banshees of Inisherin
The Banshees of Inisherin is Martin McDonagh’s first film since the Oscar-winning crime drama, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) and reunites him with In Bruges (2008) stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. The tragicomedy about friendship, set in 1920s Ireland, has got eight Golden Globe nominations, the maximum this year, closely trailed by the sci-fi comedy drama Everything Everywhere All at Once, with six nominations. Featuring standout performances by Farrell and Gleeson, the film was perhaps best described by Rotten Tomatoes as a “finely crafted feel-bad treat”.
A dark comedy about a woman taking revenge on her abusive husband, Darlings remains one of the most watchable Bollywood films this year. Directed by debutante Jasmeet K. Reen, it provides an immensely interesting narrative on how abuse is normalised. In a span of two hours, the film triggers a multitude of emotions, from angst and helplessness to empathy, humour and turmoil. The dialogues are pointed, punchy and memorable. Among Alia Bhatt’s other releases this year, including Gangubai Kathiawadi and Brahmastra, Darlings takes the cake for its craft and attention to detail.
Drishyam 2, an adaptation of the Malayalam original by Jeethu Joseph, is a break from Bollywood’s mindless and unimaginative remakes of films from the south. This one stands its ground with original performances and an intriguing plot. The film is about the aftermath of a successful conspiracy and what happens when the police continue to investigate a crime seven years after the public and media think it has been laid to rest. Vijay Salgaonkar (Ajay Devgn), his wife, Nandini (Shriya Saran), and daughters (Ishita Dutta and Mrunal Jadhav) are subjected to repeated rounds of questioning on the suspicion of having killed the son of the Inspector General of Police, Meera Deshmukh (Tabu).
Delhi Crime S2
Deputy Commissioner of Police Vartika Chaturvedi (Shefali Shah) and her team were back this year with the second season of the acclaimed Delhi Crime. This season was just as smart and stunning as the first, with Shah investigating the sudden spurt in the murders of elderly couples in Delhi. The evidence points to the return of the Kacha-Baniyan gang that was active in the 1990s, but clearly things are not as black and white as they seem. The narrative is not as hard-hitting as the brutal gang-rape and murder of Nirbhaya, which the first season dealt with. But it has more than enough sizzle to keep you engrossed.
The second season of this dramedy tugged just as forcefully at the heartstrings as the first. While the first season followed an unwilling Abhishek Tripathi (Jitendra Kumar) who accepts the job of a panchayat secretary in Phulera, a remote village in Uttar Pradesh, the second season sees him growing into his role and becoming friends with the locals. Just like the first season, the second gives you a slice of village life without exoticising or romanticising it. The characters are real and relatable and the humour has heart in it.
Stranger Things S4
The fourth season of the sci-fi horror drama released on Netflix in two volumes in May and July, with our favourite characters once more being pitched head-long into the heart of danger. The series was lauded for its emotional depth and action sequences, which were some of the best since the first season. The creators have shaken and stirred the show with each subsequent season, and season five promises to take it in an altogether new direction. “We have the big broad strokes,” said series creator Ross Duffer. “It is just now about filling in those lines in the details.” We can’t wait.