Keeping up the morale

The second wave and its subsequent lockdowns failed to dampen Hyderabadis’ spirits. Here’s what the who’s who of the city did this year
Olympic medallist PV Sindhu with Hindi film actors Deepika Padukone and Rnaveer Singh
Olympic medallist PV Sindhu with Hindi film actors Deepika Padukone and Rnaveer Singh

HYDERABAD:  The start of 2021 until mid-year spelt doom to every industry one could think of. The extended lockdowns and the second wave worried the living daylights out of every businessperson, actor, sports star, etc. Despite it all, people found their way out and made the best of the time, resources and energy they had left in the remaining half of the year. We look back on how prominent people in the city rose to unbelievable heights this year.

Marathoner Uma Chigurupati, also the co-founder of Granules India, was elected as chairperson of FLO Hyderabad. Under her chairpersonship, FLO Hyderabad has been giving a lot of importance to startups. Uma has been encouraging women to utilise FLO’s mentoring and incubation sessions, while focussing on enabling skill development and job creation for women. Despite societal pressure, she believes, women can start their careers after the age of 40 and do exceptionally well.

It wasn’t a very eventful year for shuttler Parupalli Kashyap — the lockdown was a tough time. The Arjuna Awardee was not considered for the Tokyo Olympics. He landed into a depressive episode after suffering from an injury. In the next two years, the shuttler has decided to focus on playing badminton, and then retire. He wants to start coaching the upcoming badminton players.

The second wave did not spare cultural space Lamakaan either. It dried up and events got cancelled. But, thanks to its founders, including  Elahe Hiptoola, who managed to pay the workers from their own pockets. They looked after the staff throughout the pandemic despite hardships. 

Entrepreneur Shilpa Datla reopened her French patisserie Feu in Jubilee Hills. She took it upon herself to learn and make food that’s a match made in French heaven — a dessert bar-cum-cafe that also holds a space for a culinary studio. She did her bit of research by visiting different countries and understanding different cuisines and desserts, after which she put together a team of chefs, who could make French delicacies but also understand the Indian palate. 

The city also saw some fresh and well-deserved promotions. Senior IPS officer and Director of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, Atul Karwal, was promoted to the role of Director-General of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). Arvind Kumar was promoted to the position of MAUD Special Chief Secretary. The city also got a new Commissioner of Police, CV Anand.  

Elections to the  Movie Artists Association was another hot topic of discussion and controversy this year. From petty fights to silly press conferences, everything turned into good material for memes. The panels of Prakash Raj and Vishnu Manchu resorted to washing dirty linen in public, as the latter emerged victorious. All in all, it was a rough yet productive and happening year despite the unforgiving Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Sindhu-Deepika connect

Soon after clinching bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, shuttler PV Sindhu had a friendly match with Bollywood actor and badminton enthusiast Deepika Padukone. A clip of their game had gone viral. In an exclusive chat with CE she had said, “Deepika plays really well and it was wonderful playing with her. She is a sweet and fun person. I never thought she could play so well”   

Beauty with a purpose

Model and Miss India 2020 Manasa Varanasi jetted off to Puerto Rico recently to represent the country at the Miss World 2021 pageant. The true-blue Hyderabadi, who made the city proud when she qualified for the contest, is passionate about ending child abuse for which she teamed up with the Telangana Police. While the Miss World pageant has been put on hold due to the Omicron scare, Manasa is now in quarantine 

Installation of hope

Artist and the heiress of one of the largest conglomerates in the country GVK, Dia Mehhta Bhupal, put together the largest hand-stitched community quilt in Asia at the Zydus headquarters in Ahmedabad. Bearing over 15,000 unique expressions, the installation is displayed across 22,000 sqft. Titled Together We Fly, it has been inspired by birds which symbolise collaboration, teamwork, unity, protection, strength and above all — freedom

Loud and proud 

Actor-model Sushant Divgikar was in town in November in the avatar of ‘RANI Ko-HE-Nur’. Crowned Mr. Gay India in 2014 and entered Bigg Boss season 8 as a contestant, he spoke about normalising drag art, the need to help the artistes and children of the community lead a respectable life, and urged the society to embrace them 

Everything about dram

In November, Glenfiddich brand ambassador Angad Singh Gandhi flew down to Hyderabad to teach people how to make the most of every sip of single malt whiskey. The session was held at a leather craft workshop in Jubilee Hills and was curated by Tarun Oblum   

Tying the knot 

Actor Karthikeya Gummanakonda married his long-time girlfriend Lohitha Reddy in a close yet grand ceremony in the city. They got married this August after dating for 10 long years. Another wedding that made the loudest noise was Anushpala Kamineni, the vice-president of Apollo Brands, with Armaan Ebrahim, a professional racing driver and co-founder of X1 Racing League. The wedding’s theme was promoting sustainability. All the big names of Tollywood and the business fraternity attended grand affair

Guilt-free vanity

Actor Keerthy Suresh, fashion designer Shilpa Reddy and entrepreneur Kanthi Dutt launched a skincare brand in August, Bhoomitra, which offers a range of cruelty-free and vegan products made of native ingredients. From elixir oils for the skin to nourishing hair oils and body scrubs, the brand generously uses cardamom, camphor and giloy in its products. Shilpa has been the face of sustainable living in Hyderabad and also hosts a talk show on YouTube, through which she aims at raising awareness on clean and green living. She has also been promoting the use of natural fabrics and has completely switched her clothing line to handlooms

Perfecting her craft 

After making a mark in the Telugu film industry with Ranarangam, Hyderabad-born actor Maya Nelluri spent 2021 dabbling in the world of fine arts. The all-rounder, who is currently in Australia, held digital art shows of her works. Scroll through her Instagram page (@mayanelluri) and you saw her growth as an artist

Chay-Sam parted ways 

Actors Samantha and Naga Chaitanya ended their four-year marriage in October by releasing statements on their respective social media handles. While social media was flooded with rumours about the cause of their separation, Samantha tweeted: “This attack on me personally, has been relentless. But I promise you this, I will never allow this or anything else they say break me (sic)”   

Rana promoted WWE

Actor Rana Daggubati tied up with Sony Sports Telugu for WWE. A fan of the sport himself, the actor had said that WWF (what it was called back then) had a great cultural influence on him. His posts on Instagram about him holding a WWE belt had raised curiosity among fans. The actor had told CE: “With every film of mine, I usually take a prop from the sets as memorabilia for myself. For Bahubali, it was the mace and now with Sony, they made me feel like I won a WWE belt! So this had to go on my Instagram!” 

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