• Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Arts and Culture

The best of 2020

By: Manju Chandran



THE creative output may have got cut down due to Covid-19, but that didn’t stop plenty of great work from getting released and resulting in bright moments during a decidedly dull year. Always one to focus on positives, Eastern Eye decided to celebrate the best 2020 had to offer, which included path-breaking moments, artistic excellence and wonderful work that deserve to be found by everyone.

Best Film – Thappad: There were some strong cinematic moments like an all-south Asian lead cast in Hollywood release Evil Eye and great work from independent filmmakers globally, but the best was powerful Bollywood drama Thappad. Like his previous film Article 15, director Anubhav Sinha tackled an important social message in a unique way and opened up a debate. Tapsee Pannu is excellent as the housewife who is slapped by her husband and won’t accept the domestic abuse.

Best Actor (Film) – Dev Patel: There may have been stronger performances onscreen in 2020, but none were as boundary-breaking in commercial cinema as Dev Patel’s title role in The Personal History of David Copperfield. The colour-blind casting of the classic novel enabled him to become the first south Asian to take on a lead Charles Dickens character in a high-profile movie and he did it brilliantly. That colour-blind performance continues with his next film The Green Knight, where he plays the legendary Sir Gawain.

Best Actress (Film) – Geraldine Viswanathan: The half-Indian actress from Australia delivered a star-making lead performance in The Broken Hearts Gallery. The high-profile Hollywood romantic comedy saw her take on the laughter-filled role, which won universal acclaim and set her up for a big career ahead. There were technically better performances, but none were as glass-ceiling shattering as this one, which is not normally offered to south Asians.

Best Actor (TV) Himesh Patel – The Luminaries: The British actor had another action-packed year that included appearing in Hollywood film Tenet and signing a stack of major international projects. His standout acting moment was playing a lead role in critically acclaimed TV mini-series The Luminaries, which is a 19th century drama adapted from a 2013 Man Booker-winning novel. One reviewer described him as “hypnotically watchable”.

Best Actress (TV) Surbhi Chandna: The Indian actress started the year by concluding TV drama Sanjivani and ended it by playing the lead role in highly rated series Naagin 5. Surbhi showed off her impressive versatility and has been able to carry forward the impressive legacy of a supernatural show that has charmed millions around the world.

Best Short Film/Best Animation – Sitara: Let Girls Dream: The best animation and greatest short film plaudits go to the stunning Sitara: Let Girls Dream. The latest offering from Oscar winning writer-director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is a wonderful 14-minute story of a young teenage girl, who dreams of being a pilot, but is pushed into marrying an older man. The unique animated film made stunning use of music and told a powerful story of child brides without dialogues.

Best TV Series – Anupamaa: The Indian drama serial has delighted audiences since it premiered in July and been enormously successful. The Hindi language remake of Bengali series Sreemoyee is the story of a devoted middle-aged housewife who takes control of her life when she feels others are taking her for granted. Powered by an impressive performance by Rupali Ganguly, the Rajan Shahi produced drama serial has been winning hearts of cross-generational audiences and become one of the most watched shows globally.

Best Web Series – Churails: The world binge-watched a lot of serials during lockdown and Pakistan produced the finest new one with Churails. The boundary-breaking comedy-drama about four feisty women setting up a detective agency ripped up all the rulebooks and delivered something that has not been seen before. Great performances, excellent writing, marvellous music and deft directing from Asim Abbasi combined perfectly for the ZEE5 serial, which won global acclaim.

Best Singer – Armaan Malik: An action-packed year saw the stunningly talented singer mix up Bollywood songs with solo releases, which included his first English language song Control. The popular singer showed off his variety on a range of songs and added to his rapidly growing legion of fans. This desire to do things differently and cross new horizons has turned the young star into a boundary breaking singer, who is inspiring a whole new generation.

Best Album – How I’m Feeling Now by Charli XCX: The fourth studio album from the half-Indian British pop star was created and released during lockdown. She collaborated with fans on the critically acclaimed album that was shortlisted for a 2020 Mercury Prize and will likely get further plaudits. The cool collection of songs has been described as “a moment in time” and “artistry beautifully blended with commercial beats”.

Best Newcomer – Asim Riaz: The model turned TV personality made an incredible impact on reality TV show Bigg Boss 13 and earned himself a huge fan base. He has since gone on to star in music videos that have clocked up tens of millions of views and set himself up for more success. With an allround talent, youth and a rapidly growing fan base, the exciting Indian newcomer has all the momentum behind him and don’t be surprised if he goes international soon.

Best music producer – Vee: A great British success story from recent years has been the remarkable rise of Vee, but the ace producer doesn’t get the credit he deserves, so we are rectifying that by honouring him. The ace musician has silently risen through the ranks and regularly releases big songs with major singers. This year the prolific producer clocked up hundreds of millions of collective You- Tube views with more hits, including Surma Surma, which saw Guru Randhawa team up with Jay Sean. His other hits in 2020 included Teri Gali, Nazar and Baby Girl.

Best Song – G.O.A.T by Diljit Dosanjh: He may have made it big as a movie star, but Diljit Dosanjh is still very much bossing the music scene and showed that with the year’s finest Indian album G.O.A.T, which included the outstanding title track. The best song of this year had music fans dancing around the world and rocketed past 100 million views on YouTube. The song also smashed open doors into the western mainstream for the Punjabi superstar.

Best Online star – Saloni Gaur: From stand-up shows to TV specials and YouTube videos, comedy has never been more popular or competitive than it is today. It takes someone extra special to rise above the many talents globally and exciting newcomer Saloni Gaur did just that with hilarious videos on social media, which led to her own web series. The 21-year-old comedy talent made everyone smile during lockdown with her unique brand of humour and looks unstoppable right now.

Best documentary series – Bad Boy Billionaires: The eye-opening three-part Netflix original dissected disgraced tycoons who stole billions and ultimately got caught. The series showed how Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Subrata Roy rose up to defraud vast sums. There is another episode with Ramalinga Raju, but he is trying to block its release in court.


THERE were plenty of celebrity heroes throughout 2020, but they were counterbalanced by zeroes at the opposite end of the spectrum, who made a decidedly bad year even worse in their own unique way. Here are the not-so-magnificent seven that are singled out for delivering horrible moments that need to be forgotten and left behind in a torrid year of terrible lows.

Mrs Serial Killer

Netflix: The streaming site really has become a toilet for Bollywood and clogged itself up across the year with a ridiculous amount of stinky poop-like content from Hindi cinema. This included Mrs Serial Killer, which is a frontrunner for worst movie of the decade, and the ridiculously bad reality series Fabulous Lives Of Bollywood Wives.

Filmfare awards: The oldest Bollywood awards destroyed the little credibility it had left by giving a record-breaking number of trophies to rap musical Gully Boy, which suspiciously belonged to this year’s ceremony sponsor Amazon Prime. By giving a movie that is essentially an imitation of Hollywood film 8 Mile more trophies than any other film in history confirmed a long-held theory many have about Bollywood awards being fixed. Lyricist Manoj Muntashir was so outraged that he vowed to boycott all Bollywood awards in future.

Kangana Ranaut: The actress spread so much hate and lies throughout 2020, along with her sister Rangoli Chandel, that it confirmed her as the most poisonous celebrity on the planet, in my eyes. The hate-filled rhetoric was called out by many, including fellow celebrities, but it didn’t stop her from ramping up hatred at a time when there is so much division.

Sadak 2: There were some rotten films in 2020, but by far the biggest letdown was this comeback from Mahesh Bhatt to directing after 20 years. Everything about the sequel was shockingly bad and represented all that is wrong with Hindi cinema today. Its trailer smashed the record for most dislikes on YouTube and the movie itself became the worst rated on IMDB.

Mouni Roy

Bollywood covidiots: Perhaps, the biggest celebrity covidiots on the planet were from Bollywood and many like Mouni Roy openly flaunted Covid-19 laws on social media. Celebrities such as Kanika Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor also took liberties with the quarantine rules, while others spread misinformation and worked in unsafe conditions. Many Hindi cinema celebrities contracted the killer virus and, subsequently, became super spreaders.

(Getty Images)

Vindu Dara Singh: The failed actor insulted the legacy of his legendary late father Dara Singh by becoming a terrible internet troll in 2020. The 56-year-old regularly took aim at Asim Riaz, 27, on reality TV show Bigg Boss 13, despite him being young enough to be his son and inspired other awful trolls to emulate his bad behaviour.

Akshay Kumar: Those connected to the actor went to ridiculous lengths to satisfy his seeming need for attention. I received press releases from a PR agency asking me to publicise his condolence tweets for Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor, after they sadly passed away. Another PR sent a fake story about his film Bell Bottom being the first to fully shoot in lockdown, which it wasn’t. Those connected to him publicised his philanthropic deeds and sent out multiple, boastful stories about his flop film Laxmii, which were huge lies.

Eastern Eye

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