Home Columns Anantha Narayan Taking names

It’s been a rather odd year. No one’s been able to nail it in one word. Merriam-Webster thinks ‘Ism’ is a pithy summation of 2015, because the world was obsessed with terrorism, racism, feminism, and Trumpisms.

Dictionary.com sort of concurs but has chosen ‘Identity’ as its Word of the Year. In the land we belong, I’d say ‘Beep’ is more like it, as we’ve been grappling with multiple forms of intolerance regarding what we say, what we wear, what we eat, what we view, and what we sing.
Now that we’ve provoked you from your New Year slumber, let’s turn your attention to the most original names developed in the last 12 months. Let’s start with the best Tamil movie title: Vellaiya Irukiravan Poi Solla Maatan (Fair Skinned Never Lie). Inspired from a racist quip in a Vadivelu comedy track, the name brings an immediate smile and is a great way to draw people into a comedy. Among the Malayalam flicks,
Oru Vadakkan Selfie (A Northerner’s Selfie) was the clutter buster. It’s catchy and contemporary nature felt just right for the thriller. A Shyam Gopal Varma Film was my pick for the smartest Telugu film title as it feels every inch like a spoof on Ram Gopal Varma.

141 was my number one choice for the best Kannada title. If you get the cryptic ‘one for one’ touch, you’ll appreciate this lesbian romance better. Balki’s ingenious portmanteau Shamitabh towered above other Bollywood drivel like Kaagaz ke Fools and Yaara Silly Silly. In case you’re wondering why I haven’t yet covered English movies, well, The Man from U.N.C.L.E made it to my list due to the intrigue it’s suffused with. The fascinatingly dreary Microbe and Gasoline topped my foreign films compilation.

The arrestingly in-your-face Galileo’s Middle Finger was my non-fiction book title of the year. In sharp contrast, the more evocative A Spool of Blue Thread was the numero uno among novels.

Cut to music. Club Meds a trippy pun on the resort, outscored all other albums in terms of stickiness and recall. The immensely unusual Car Seat Headrest was easily the best new band name – for its sheer audacity of being consciously uncool.
Jibo (Japanese for ‘compassionate mother’), the first-ever family robot, was my selection for the new product moniker of the year. And ‘Vistara’ (Sanskrit meaning: to expand) emerged clearly as the most endearing new Indian brand name. Hope the harvest will be as good in the coming season.

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