Here are 50 things to look forward to in 2019:
General Elections 2019
The most significant Indian parliamentary election in a generation will be held between April and May, along with assembly elections in the states of Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and possibly Jammu & Kashmir. Considering the current state of political polarisation, get ready to witness the most vicious and debased public mudslinging and muckraking campaign this country has ever seen.
Britain is in a state of turmoil, as the country is being pulled in three different directions. Some want what is known as a ‘Hard Brexit’ – a full break from the European Union – while others want a ‘Soft Brexit’ – a partial break from the EU – and those demanding a second referendum hope it’ll prove that the majority of Britain wants to remain in the EU. If there is no new referendum, it looks like the centuries-old dispute will be settled in the coming months, the political consequences of which will be far reaching. then the country has to leave the EU at 11 pm on Friday, 29 March 2019, an event that is bound to roil markets around the world.
Babri Masjid Verdict
The demolition of the 16th-century mosque in December 1992 changed politics in India forever. In 2010, after eight years of hearings, the Allahabad High court ruled that the 2.77 acre mosque site in Ayodhya should be divided equally, three ways, between the three parties to the case — the Hindu Mahasabha, Sunni Waqf Board and Nirmohi Akhara. Since each of the parties wanted the whole property to themselves, the case inevitably moved to the Supreme Court, which has promised to announce the schedule for the final round of hearings this month. Whatever the schedule, it looks like the centuries-old dispute will be settled in the coming months, the political consequences of which will be far reaching.
The World Of Trump
The embattled US President, who has had the world on edge since taking over two years ago, will face his most significant tests this year. The Mueller investigation on the Russian rigging of the 2016 presidential election is expected to publish its finding in the coming months, which will determine whether the President had any role in it. If he is found guilty, it will create a whole new round of uncertainty around the world, including the fear that he will be impeached by the House of Representatives, which as of this month will be controlled by the rival Democrats.
The 2019 Kochi Duskathon will be India’s biggest natural running event, and possibly even the world’s biggest, as they will try to break a Guinness record. The record they will attempt to break is of the largest barefoot race, which is currently held by China. This one-of-a-kind natural running event will consist of athletes and fitness enthusiasts from all over the world, racing each other on Cherai beach, one of Kerala’s longest and most picturesque beaches. Duskathon attendees can also indulge in delicious ethnic food, folk music and other cultural performances at sundown.
ICC Cricket World Cup
Probably the most awaited sporting event in India, the ICC Cricket World Cup is all set to take over our televisions this year. England and Wales will be hosting the World Cup, and India will have its first match against South Africa on 5th June, at The Oval in London. The final match of the world cup will be held at the legendary Lord’s cricket ground. The Indian team has always proved themselves to be good performers during the World Cup. The last time our boys lifted the cup was back in 2011, and hopefully 2019 will be the year when the cup is brought back home.
India-South Africa Test Series
After having action-packed (but losing) test series’ against England and Australia in 2018, October 2019 is going to be another great month for fans of test cricket. The Indian team will be going up against South Africa in a three-match series on home soil. Compared to 2018, India does have a tight test series schedule for 2019. Apart from taking on South Africa in October, India will go head-to-head against the West Indies in a two-match series on their home turf. In the month of November, India will also be playing its eastern neighbour, Bangladesh, in a two-match series at home.
FIFA Women’s World Cup
2018 will be remembered for the superb FIFA World Cup in Russia, but 2019 is set for some great football action too. The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be the eighth edition of the prestigious championship, and for the first time, it will be hosted by France. The first match will be played between the host country and Korea in Paris on 7th June, while the final will take place on 7th July in the city of Lyon. With a whole month of football lined up across 9 French cities between 24 teams, it should be one of the biggest football spectacles of the year.
Summer Special Olympics
This year, the summer edition of the Special Olympics is all set to be held in Abu Dhabi. India has always been an excellent performer during the Special Olympic games, and will hopefully continue to do so. India has won 1082 medals, including 322 gold, 343 silver and 397 bronze. The games will give an opportunity to over 1,00,000 intellectually disabled athletes throughout India, from which a select number will go on to represent the country on the prestigious Olympic platform. Sports like aquatics, basketball, cycling, football, powerlifting etc. will be part of the kind of sports that the athletes will be taking part in. Just like every other Olympic event, we hope that the athletes come back home proudly with medals around their necks.
Ardh Kumbh Mela
According to mythology, when the Devas and the Asuras had a tiff during the Samudra manthan, four drops of amrita (the elixir of immortality) were spilled at four places – Prayagraj in Allahabad, Haridwar, Nashik and Ujjain. While the Maha Kumbh Mela is held every 144 years, the Ardh Kumbh Mela is held every six years. In 2019, Hindus from around the world will go on this mass pilgrimage and gather near the rivers in all of the four mentioned places. A dip in any of these rivers is said to cleanse an individual of all sins. To facilitate and aid the large number of pilgrims, the Indian Railways will supposedly run 800 special trains. PRO NCR Amit Malviya stated, according to a PTI report, that the branding of the Kumbh Mela will also be done on 1400 coaches of these special trains, and that they will feature images of Allahabad’s landmarks and those of the Kumbh Mela.
Reliance’s Launch Of Jio 5G
While the Mukesh Ambani-owned telecom company plans to launch fifth generation (5G) services in India by 2020, ET Telecom reports that the government will facilitate the process and allocate airwaves by December 2019. If you thought 4G was fast, get ready to be blown away by the download speeds offered by 5G – they are rumoured to be almost 60 times faster than the fourth generation. A company official told the paper that once the spectrum is allocated, it will take the telco a mere five to six months to launch the services. However, there are innumerable challenges that need to be overcome, the major one being devices that can actually support 5G.
Indian’s Maiden Mission To The Sun
Apart from ISRO’s second mission to the moon, the space agency is also preparing to launch 21 other missions in 2019 – and one of them happens to be Aditya L1, India’s first mission to the sun. ISRO chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar had told the press in 2017 that Aditya-L1 would be launched in 2019, and that the mission’s primary goal was to help us understand the dynamic processes of the sun. According to the ISRO website, Aditya-L1 will provide observations of the sun’s photosphere (soft and hard X-ray), chromosphere (UV) and corona (visible and NIR). The project will also help address certain problems related to solar physics.
India’s Launch Of Chandrayaan 2
Following the monumental success of India’s first moon mission, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set to launch Chandrayaan-2, between January and March. According to media reports, there have been certain changes in its design, so as to ensure easier landing on the lunar surface. The mass of the Chandrayaan-2 has been increased by 600 kilograms, following experiments that revealed a shaking of the satellite post the ejection of the moon lander.
A New Front In The Streaming Wars
We’ve all heard the rumours that Apple device owners will receive, for free, the tech giant’s much-hyped video services. The iPhone maker supposedly aims to release it by 2019 and when it arrives, it’s going to be an early Christmas for TV lovers. Streaming giants better watch out – a bevy of Hollywood biggies like Reese Witherspoon and Steven Spielberg have already been approached for their services. However, according to media reports, we won’t be getting any extremely violent material along the lines of Game of Thrones or one of the many Viking-related shows out there. Ah, well.
Rare ‘Ring Of Fire’ Eclipse
We’re sure that this event must have some significance in ancient traditions and in pagan history, but for star gazers, the ‘Ring of Fire’ eclipse, which is set to take place on December 26, will be a brilliant event. The eclipse leads to a ring around the moon, and while it is supposedly a lesser deal than a total solar eclipse, it still makes for some brilliant photographs. It is imperative that you use solar safety glasses to view the eclipse, which will be seen in Saudi Arabia, Oman, southern India, northern Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean.
The Kochi-Muzhiris Biennale
The fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale commenced on the 12th of December last year, and features a dynamic range of artwork, along with curated programming in the fields of cinema and performance, as well as seminars and workshops. The theme of the Biennale is ‘possibilities for a non-alienated life’. Curated by renowned artist Anita Dube, the 108-day Biennale is being held across nine venues and will feature a total of 95 artist projects. Fort Kochi and Durbar Hall in downtown Ernakulam are two of the heritage venues the Biennale will be held across. The international exhibition ends on the 29th of March, 2019.
We have been gunning for a Ranveer Singh-Alia Bhatt film ever since they starred in those Makemytrip ads together. Singh’s films are increasingly becoming cannot-miss, and has Alia Bhatt delivered anything less than amazing yet? Treading into experimental territory, with the life and times of vernacular rapper Divine, this Zoya Akhtar film should pack a punch.
Possibly one of the biggest films Bollywood’s ever made – and the other Dharma event film of the year – the first part of this superhero trilogy releases this year, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan and Alia Bhatt in lead roles. Will India finally have a desi superhero we can be proud of? Also, who doesn’t want to see lovebirds Kapoor-Bhatt on screen together?
Based on the fictional character of Carol Danvers, who has also been known as Ms. Marvel, a woman is finally starring as the lead of a superheroine film (after Wonder Woman, that is). Read that sentence again and rejoice.
India’s Mars mission deserves a film, and given how well space films do in Hollywood – and how much we love them here – a homegrown attempt is more than welcome. Given that the film has Akshay Kumar in the lead, it might just turn into another India-IsThe-Best fest, but the rest of the cast is definitely promising.
After all the off-screen drama this film has produced, people want to see if the massive period flick is actually worth it. Let’s be frank: Kangana Ranaut really needs to prove herself (and prove a lot of people wrong) with this ambitious biopic on Rani Laxmi Bai.
One of the biggest film events of the year, this Dharma period drama stars Madhuri Dixit, Sanjay Dutt, Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditya Roy Kapur, Kriti Sanon and Kiara Advani. Dixit and Dutt are back on screen together after 21 years. How many more reasons do you need?
Possibly Diwali-Eid-Christmas-Your-Birthday all rolled into one, this is definitely the biggest film event of the year. Period.
Game Of Thrones (Season 8)
After what seems like forever, the final season of Game Of Thrones is all set to drop in April this year. If the living characters in the show are anything to go by, the battle of battles for the ultimate throne will be the most dramatic ending a TV show has ever seen. The latest teaser, depicting the clash of fire and ice, is only a snippet about what is about to hit us. Though the makers have cut down the season to only six episodes, each episode is expected to be more than an hour long.
Sacred Games (Season 2)
Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Saif Ali Khan as the protagonists, the first season gained massive momentum among audiences and is back to enthrall us all. Will Sartaj Singh succeed in stopping the nuclear attack? Will Ganesh Gaitonde hold on to his position in the mafia? What is Trivedi’s fate in the series? The second season holds the answers to these and much more.
Brooklyn Nine Nine (Season 6)
The massive uproar from the audience on the show’s cancellation was enough for NBC to place their bets on the police television sitcom, which will come back with a sixth season this year. The new season has a total of 18 episodes, and is set to premiere on January 10th. What to expect? Gina Linetti’s (played by Chelsea Peretti) send-off from the show, guest appearances from Dean Winters, Jason Mantzoukas and no cliffhangers, unlike the previous seasons.
Baahubali: Before The Beginning
Cashing in on the popularity of the highest grossing movie franchise in India, Netflix is coming out with a prequel to both the Baahubali movies. The show is an adaptation of Rise Of Sivagami, and captures the queen’s journey to becoming her fearless self. The show also captures the power plays and politics that lead to the rise of the Mahismati empire. Critically acclaimed actress Mrunal Thakur will play Sivagami, and you can expect the series to be high on action and drama.
Bard Of Blood
After Sacred Games, the Indian original series Bard of Blood is next in line on Netlix, and stars Emraan Hashmi. The eight-part show is based on Bilal Siddiqi’s 2015 novel of the same title, about a former spy, Kabir Ahmed, who sets out to save his country and long-lost love. The series is co-produced by Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment and will be released in multiple languages. Though no official teaser has been released, the political drama looks promising.
Veep (Season 7)
After winning big at the Emmys for six years in a row, the political comedy is coming back for its final season in 2019. With seven episodes (a shift from the traditional 10 episodes), the series will see Selina Meyer, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, run for president again. The makers of the show revealed that the episodes would also incorporate the current political environment of the USA.
The Crown (Season 3)
With a reshuffled cast and a promise for a gripping season, The Crown’s third season will premiere early this year. The show will now cover Queen Elizabeth II’s reign from 1964-76. The stellar cast has Olivia Colman as the queen, Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret and Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip. Going by the timeline of the show, expect to see Prince Charles being crowned Prince of Wales, the entry of his second wife Camilla and a lot of grandkids.
The comic book series, created by Gerard Way, is coming to life through a live action TV series by Steve Blackman for Netflix, on February 15th. With Ellen Page and Robert Sheehan in the lead, the ten one-hour long episodes are about a dysfunctional family of superheroes, attempting to save the world and trying to solve the murder of their father. It’s great news for fans of the comic book, as well as others, who now have a brand new series to look forward to.
Nihonbashi Comes To Mumbai
Chef Dharshan Munidasa, of Ministry of Crab fame, was all set to bring the hit Colombo restaurant to Mumbai in 2018. While the fate of that launch is still uncertain, his other property, Nihonbashi, is all set for a sparkling opening. The upscale Japanese restaurant will soon open in the beautiful Mandlik Road bungalow formerly occupied by Indigo, in Colaba. Gourmet Investments Pvt Ltd – the representative of the popular pizza chain PizzaExpress as well as the “Project” series – will be bringing Nihonbashi to India.
The Denmark Tavern Reopens For Overnight Guests
India’s oldest hotel will soon host overnight guests again. The Denmark Tavern in Serampore, Kolkata, was established in 1786, in what was then Fredricksnagore. The two-storeyed structure by the Hooghly river is where the Danes used to store their flagstaff and cannons. The Tavern was a place to meet and stay for traders, clergy and travellers exploring Bengal. In 2010-11, a group of restoration experts studied the ruined building, and it took around two years to restore it. The refurnished building has a café, inspired by the double height central atrium of the Indian Coffee House in Kolkata, which opened to visitors early last year. The six high-ceilinged, spacious rooms will accept visitors in the first quarter of the year. The Park Collection brand of The Park Hotels will run the property, featuring their design aesthetics and reverberating with the brand’s ‘Anything But Ordinary’ experiences.
Rahul Akerkar’s New Restaurant
It’s been a long time coming, but celebrated chef Rahul Akerkar’s comeback restaurant is finally ready to open, with a launch planned for the first quarter of the year. As reported by the Economic Times in October 2018, Qualia Hospitality is the name of Akerkar’s new company as well as the restaurant, which will be located in Mumbai’s Lower Parel area. Akerkar had quit deGustibus Hospitality – the company he founded, along with the iconic restaurant, Indigo – in 1999. The Colaba fine-dine downed shutters last year after an almost two-decade run. He was reported as saying, “Indigo was considered one of India’s first fine-dining, stand-alone restaurants, with service and food that was formal. People eat differently now. Qualia has an open-plan kitchen and will offer a very immersive, interactive and convivial dining experience.”
Gin Will Still Be In
Its surge in popularity over the last few years has led to the launch of several top-notch international gin brands in the country, as well as the rise of three very good homegrown gins. Concept bars have popped up across the country – great gin collections, creative infusions and experiments with the classic gin and tonic are among their themes, and they’ve been very successful. Younger drinkers will undoubtedly continue to favour gin, which is refreshing, easy to drink, and much healthier given its typical consumption with tonic water, as opposed to sugary carbonated mixers and cocktails.
Food Gets Healthier; Restaurants More Local
The wave has already begun, but it shows no sign of slowing down – instead, it’s only going to pick up pace. Millennials are obsessed with fitness as well as food, so it’s natural that anything healthy will be high on their shopping list, and will also be what they’re likely to order when they eat out. Chefs, many of whom are social media stars and hence have the power to influence, are leading the sustainability movement. Their use of local, seasonal produce at their restaurants is finding many takers. It has also given rise to new, niche brands selling superfoods, organic produce and products targeting more specific dietary requirements – such as the keto fad, which is sure to remain a hot trend.
Cocktails Become More Creative
You’ll no longer need to make international trips to savour the most innovative, well-crafted cocktails. Mixologists in India seem set to up their game in 2019. Some of the biggest cocktail trends have already hit India, but most important is the knowledge that in-house is better. All good bartenders these days are making their own bitters, syrups, liqueurs and infusions. It’s a great way to be wickedly creative, while at the same time ensuring that the drinks you serve are truly unique and won’t be found at any other bar.
VR’S Big Leap
Wires have been preventing VR from truly going mainstream. This is why Oculus’ Project Santa Cruz is a big deal for VR fans. It’s ready to move from testing to live, as the Quest (with a display resolution of 1600 x 1440 pixels per eye) – arguably the most powerful VR headset – will hit stores in the US in the first half of 2019. The Quest offers motion-controlled gaming in a standalone device, with six degrees of freedom and true wireless gaming. With no sensors or annoying wires, the Quest will use ‘inside-out’ tracking to tell how players are moving.
A Speaker That You Can Wear
Bose’s SoundWear Companion speaker was one of the most innovative pieces of wearable tech that debuted in 2018. This device will soon be available for sale in India, and offers portable sound that doesn’t require you to shut yourself out completely. While you hear great sound, this wearable speaker minimises sound for those around you – making it perfect for the office cubicle. With 12 hours of battery life, easy Bluetooth connectivity, digital assistants like Siri and swappable covers, this might be the perfect compromise between a speaker and a pair of headphones. Expect many more wearable speakers to join this party in 2019.
Gartner predicts a 26 per cent rise in wearable sales for 2019 (that’s 225 million in shipments). Fitbit’s Charge 3 arrives in India in the first quarter, with an elevated, premium swim-proof design, touchscreen display and other essential smart features. Huami announced a tie-up with Timex that could see these brands collaborate on Huami’s hotly anticipated 2019 smartwatch, which is expected to feature a new AI-powered chipset with heaps of wellness features, including a heart rhythm abnormality engine. We might finally see Swatch’s new smartwatch with its new Swiss OS, announced back in 2017, and the rumoured Google Pixel watch.
The All-Screen, Punch-Hole Displays Are Here
If you never quite got used to the notch that the iPhone X pioneered, you might well be in luck. The notch may soon be on its way out, thanks to the punch-hole display. Many upcoming devices will now feature a simple, circular cut-out just large enough for the selfie cam. This doesn’t just knock off the notch, but also expands the display. Already, the Honor View 20 (that is likely to be launched globally this month and devices like the upcoming Samsung A8 to Huawei’s Nova 4 have all teased the punch-hole.
This all-electric SUV has unmistakable Audi styling, but it’s a little more out there than the German firm’s other models. It has two electric motors, one on each axle, making 167 bhp in the front and 187 bhp at the back, with a peak torque of 561 Nm. There’s also a boost mode, where the power output goes up to 408 bhp. Audi claims a range of 400 km on a single charge, with a top speed of 200 kph. All this electric goodness won’t come cheap – Rs 1.5 crore and up is likely what you’ll have to shell out.
Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe
The Mercedes-AMG GT is one of the best sportscars in the world, but with its two seats, it isn’t especially practical if you want to scare more than yourself and another person silly. This will be the car to do that in – the AMG division decided to make a four-door version. It’s essentially a big, luxurious and extremely powerful barge, in which you and your family can rocket from 0-100 kph in a scant 3.2 seconds. Two engine options will be available: a V8 with 639 bhp and 900 Nm, or 585 bhp and 800 Nm. Why would you opt for the latter? Expect the damages to be in the region of Rs 2 crore.
Japanese carmakers normally stay on the safer side of the design spectrum, but Lexus has been pushing the envelope for a while now, with its bold (some would say wild) new designs. The UX crossover looks like nothing else on the road, which is good for those seeking exclusivity. Power will likely be provided by a hybrid powertrain, producing enough juice to make the UX as much fun as a hatchback (or so Lexus claims). It’ll be up against the BMW X1, Audi Q3 et al, but will be higher priced – expect Rs 40 lakh-plus.
This will be Jaguar’s ‘small’ SUV, and takes its design cues from the F-Type sportscar. The sharp-looking SUV will be offered with 2-litre petrol and diesel engines in various states of tune – from 148bhp all the way up to 296 bhp. It’ll go head-to-head with the Audi Q5, the BMW X3 and the Volvo XC60, among others, with a price tag of Rs 35 lakh onwards.
SUVs have been the flavour of many seasons now, over the years, and next year will be no different. BMW has decided it needs a ‘flagship’ SUV in its already well-populated lineup, and the X7 is it. It’ll be a full-size, full-fat 7-seater, competing with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLS and the Audi Q7, and sitting above BMW’s own X5 in the portfolio. A 3-litre diesel engine is likely, with between 258 bhp and 377 bhp, depending on what you choose. The likely price tag will Rs 90 lakh onwards.
Hyundai Kona Electric
Hyundai has its own all-electric SUV set for launch in India. The Kona Electric looks different than its diesel and petrol siblings and is also taller, with new bumpers that have been designed to be more aerodynamic. There are engine options, but India will likely get one with a 39.2 kWh battery, which apparently has a 300 km range. The 99 kW motor puts out 134 bhp and 395 Nm of torque, and the Kona has a top speed of 155 kph. Expect a Rs20 lakh-plus sticker price.
Jawa is back with a bang in India, with its entire first round of production (for the Jawa and Forty-Two) spoken for till September of this year. As you’ve read in our review in this issue, the ‘new’ Jawas look great and are fun to ride – and the Perak will be in the same vein. Its ‘bobber’ styling is the business, and it’ll have a slightly more powerful engine than its siblings – 334cc, producing 30 bhp and 31 Nm of torque (it’ll also have a rear disc brake). Pricing was announced last year at Rs 1.89 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi.
Benelli Imperiale 400
It’s raining retro bikes in India, and the latest to jump on the bandwagon is the Imperiale 400. Benelli’s existing lineup will be totally refreshed, and among the new entrants will be this throwback to motorcycles of yore. There will be two models, making 400cc and 530cc respectively, and the bikes will square off with Royal Enfield’s Classic line of bikes. De rigeur retro styling bits will include a teardrop tank, round headlight and a split seat, among others. Pricing will likely begin at Rs 2.2 lakh.
KTM 790 DUKE
affordable and ultra-fun Duke lineup transformed the face of motorcycling in India, offering smashing looks, heaps of usable power and superb handling. The Bajaj-owned company will ramp it up in 2019 with the 790 Duke, the big brother of the current 250 and 390. It’ll have a 799cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine that makes 103.5 bhp and 86 Nm of torque. Rivals include the Kawasaki Z900, the Suzuki GSX-S750 and the Ducati Monster 797. Expect the Duke to cost upwards of Rs 6.5 lakh.