To call 2011 eventful would be an understatement. It was a year jam-packed with waves of political uprisings, national disasters, economic roller-coasters, the downfall of dictators, achievements in innovation, beginnings and ends of conflicts, and Kolaveri Di (both the song and its definition). For us, here at The NRI, it's been a year of tremendous growth, all thanks to a talented and eclectic team of writers and you, our loyal, enthusiastic and interactive readers. So, as we wrap up one heck of a year, we'd like to share with you the top 10 most read articles published on The NRI in 2011.
And as a special treat after this top 10 list, the esteemed owner and editor of The NRI, Amar Sodhi, has emerged from the dark shadows of tirelessly keeping the website alive and kicking to give us his pick of articles from the year that caught his fancy (Think of me as his envoy here).
The top ten most read articles published on The NRI in 2011, in ascending order, are:
What do you do when you find a treasure trove of gigantic proportions that had been kept locked away in a temple vault for centuries? You lock it back up and deploy security, using public funds, instead of putting it towards public benefit. Anirban Banerjee opens a pandora's box in his discussion of the dicey links between religion, the government, and the poor.
One of two films that drew major interest this year, reflected in the the large numbers of hits we got for their reviews. Here, Jaspreet Pandohar raves about the film, specifically mentioning its "platefuls of defecation, fornication and masturbation jokes, and plenty of on screen smoking, swearing and sexual innuendo" that push the boundaries of Indian comedy and at the same time offend many conservative Indians.
A vivid exploration of the dark and trapped lives of the sex workers along G.B. Road, Delhi's red light district. In most cases, the women work there not out of choice but because they are pawns in a large, dangerous business of sex. Anukriti Sharma talks about the concept of love that eludes many of these women because of the circumstances of the work they are forced into.
If you haven't yet heard 'Why this Kolaveri Di', you must be living under a rock. Love it, hate it or just don't care, the phenomenal overnight viral success of the song triggered debates on what "good" music actually is. However, as Pallavi Subramanium says, "while perfection is great, being ‘real’ is far more attractive."
Modern media and popular culture is spreading incredibly skewed ideals for what a woman's body should be like. Sandeep Sandhu traces the shift over time of body ideals from the robust, curvy woman to the skinny, size zero image that has proliferated all around us today.
I guess it's safe to assume Delhi Belly was one of the most talked about and most searched topics this year. With Jaspreet's film review and my music review of the same film both making it to this list, it's clear that our readers reveled in the unapologetic crudeness that the film offered in such abundance. After all, I Hate You (Like I Love You).
How ironic that one of our least favorite films of the year is not only the highest grossing Hindi film of 2011 but its review also got one of the highest number of hits. Back then, I had reviewed Bodyguard as "an exhausting experience, offering painfully little by way of entertainment, plot or performances." Well, nothing's changed.
Gandhi had the "confidence to meet the English Prime minister in his underwear. That man was sexy and he knew it." Tysonice emphatically dispels the notion that Indian men are not sexy. You heard it from him first.
Film writers (such as myself) breathe a big sigh of relief when their predictions for films to look out for in a new year don't completely collapse into a pile of disappointing, flopped, and ridiculed debris. At least half my list actually turned out to be some of the strongest films of the year and, while I have your attention (shameless plug coming), why not vote for your favorite films here.
And the most read post of 2011 will throw you right into the middle of one of the most quintessentially Indian experiences - a train journey. If you haven't experienced the "five minutes of hope" or come across the "kindly adjust family," "the lonely techie," or the "train traveling wife," go book your train ticket now. And if you have, then you might want to experience it all again.
Now, as promised, here is our editor's pick of 10 more articles from 2011 that deserve special mention. (He wants me to specify, however, that the editor's picks are just additional posts that deserve mention and aren't meant to discredit the most read posts above. There you have it, diplomatic and impartial as always.)
India Changed My Life - Barnaby Haszard Morris has established a loyal readership (and deservedly so) chronicling his three years living and working in Kerala. As he was leaving India to return to his native New Zealand, Barnaby poignantly reflected on experiences and adventures that changed his life. In another piece titled Welcome To The Real World, Barnaby writes an open letter to the "porn-spoiled wannabe Romeos," the perpetrators of sexual harassment that he witnessed during his time in India.
Doing The Mallu Shuffle - if you ever wondered about the dancing talents of Mallu men, Tysonice provides the answers. And while you try to imagine a Mallu man dancing, Barnaby talks about what to expect as a white man in Kerala in Saip Shock. Of course, there are also plenty of Indians that strive for whiter skin, as Barnaby explores the misleading business of skin lightening creams in the Indian markets in his piece My Beautiful White Skin.
Heroine - Anisha Jhaveri dissects the world of Hindi film actresses where superstardom and big money doesn't necessarily mean the roles available for tinseltown's women are getting any better. Another piece by Anisha, South Asians vs. Stereotypes, asks if our battle with media stereotypes is even worth the fight.
Babadom 101 - If you've ever wondered what you need to do to become a baba, Raja Indrajit provides all the answers. Going along similar lines in The Spiritual 'Sigh' Baba, Sourav Sengupta takes a strong position against the widespread reverence that many held towards the late Sathya Sai Baba, calling the public mourning of his death a refusal in India to "shed its medieval identity." Meanwhile, in M.F. Husain And The Test Of A Democracy, I had a chance to start digging at the incredibly complex layers of a democratic society like India grappling with how to remember the loss of one of the greatest artists of modern times. Such explorations of democracy and evolving culture, it seems, will only become a bigger topic of discussion as we roll into 2012.
There you have it - 0ur round up of the most read and most discussed posts of 2011. As we look ahead to 2012, we at The NRI are excited to grow even more and tell more relevant and interesting stories that resonate with the vast community of Indians worldwide.
We have several exciting developments to look forward to in the coming year, including the relaunch of the site. The NRI will be bigger and better in 2012 and we thank you for supporting us and encouraging us to continue moving forward. As we plan for the coming year, tell us in the comments section below what topics or issues you would like us to write about.
Happy New Year!