The Year In South Asian Culture

Dec/30/2022 / by Pratika Yashaswi

Whether in the world of books, music or movies, South Asia is on everyone’s mind; and in terms of making news, it has been an exceptional year for the region.

As we say goodbye to 2022 let’s throw back to the 7 biggest moments for South Asian culture this year.

1. Pasoori tops Global Youtube charts

Ali Sethi and Shae Gill set the internet on fire with their single, Pasoori, a pop-folk number that, in Sethi’s words, is about  “the bittersweet-ness of unrequited love, the Wabi-Sabi in art or the strange joy one sometimes finds in melancholy.” The song made it to YouTube’s 2022 Global Top Music Video charts.

2. Joyland wins awards at Cannes

Salim Sadiq’s debut venture Joyland, a movie in the Urdu-Punjabi language, became the first Pakistani film to premiere at Cannes Film Festival. Received with a standing ovation after its screening, it went on to win the Jury Prize and Queer Palm prize for best LGBTQ, queer or feminist-themed movie at the festival.

3. Arooj Aftab wins a Grammy

New York-based Pakistani musician Arooj Aftab won the Best Global Music Performance award for her song “Mohabbat”. She was the first Pakistani woman ever to receive a Grammy nomination. She is a pioneer in the genre of neo-sufi music, a melodious global interpretation of the rich tradition of Sufi poetry and music.

4. Tomb of Sand wins the International Booker Prize

Indian author Geetanjali Shree’s 2018 novel Tomb of Sand (Ret Samadhi in Hindi) won the International Booker Prize. It tells the story of an eighty-year old woman who decides to reinvent her life after her husband passes away. It explores themes around the  1947 Partition of India and Pakistan. Geetanjali Shree has had her work widely translated into other languages.

5. RRR

The success of RRR, a movie about two friends (based on real Indian freedom fighters) has been astonishing. The most expensive Indian film to date, RRR broke the record for the highest opening-day collection earned by an Indian film (USD 30m). RRR also became the first Telugu film to receive nominations at the Golden Globes, and won the Best International Film award at the 47th Saturn awards.

6. Ms. Marvel

A gutsy Kamala Khan became Marvel Comics’ first Muslim character to headline her own (award winning) comic book, and her story was recently turned into a well-received mini series that aired on  Disney+. Activist Malala Yousafzai said she was “struck by how familiar Kamala Khan’s life seemed to me”, and that the series was “for every young person finding their place in the world.”

7. Shehan Karunatilaka wins the Booker

Sri Lankan writer Shehan Karunatilaka won the 2022 Booker Prize for his novel The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida. The Booker Prize called the book “searing, mordantly funny satire set amid the murderous mayhem of a Sri Lanka beset by civil war.” The book tells the story of a photographer who wakes up dead, with a week to ask his friends to find his photos and expose the brutality of the war in Sri Lanka.


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