This year, as the quest entered its second season, it was pegged around three tentpoles. First, in January, India Today magazine came out with a special issue—‘The Secret of Happiness’—that featured inspirational, heartwarming and emotive insights from seers, celebrities and do-gooders on the many paths to bliss and how to find them. The next month saw the first-ever India Today-RPG Group Happiness at Workplace Summit and Awards that, based on a comprehensive survey, recognised companies for creating employee-friendly spaces and policies.
The grand finale came with the Happiness Fest and Awards. The evening kicked off with a performance by The Suryansh Project, a band of young musicians known for their Indian classical, Sufi and indie pop compositions. It was followed by celebrity chef-author Ranveer Brar recounting his culinary journey and sharing his ‘recipe’ for happiness. As comic legend Johny Lever took the stage with actor Kunal Kemmu, his co-star in the Disney+ Hotstar comedy series Pop Kaun?, the hall was bound to reverberate with laughter. Breaking into spontaneous comic acts and elaborating on his process (“observe everyone and everything”), the veteran said that good comedy boils down to “good writing”.
Fresh off the success of her Netflix heist thriller Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga, actor Yami Gautam spoke about how her happiness comes from spending time with family, which includes husband Aditya Dhar’s and her mutual love for “nature and finding peace in the mountains”. Her one piece of advice to the audience—“Never take work back home” if you want to be happy. Stand-up comedian Abish Mathew next got the laughs going with his observational humour.
The highlight of the evening was the India Today-RPG Happiness Awards. To shortlist the categories and nominees, India Today had engaged the research agency MDRA. It researched each nominee’s contribution thoroughly and conducted a perception survey across a dozen cities to shortlist five names under each of the categories. Jury members Aroon Purie, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, India Today Group; Harsh Goenka, Chairman, RPG Group; Anant Goenka, Vice-Chairman, RPG Group; and Raj Chengappa, Group Editorial Director (Publishing), India Today Group, presented the trophies to the winners for bringing happiness and giving hope to people in these trying times.
The illustrious list included Alia Bhatt, who was awarded for the ‘Most Inspiring Performance of the Year’ in the movie Gangubai Kathiawadi, Ashish Chanchlani for being the ‘Funniest YouTuber of the Year’, and Abhishek Banerjee for the ‘Funniest Film Performance of the Year’ in Bhediya. The Viral Fever team followed up its last year’s win (for Kota Factory) with yet another for making the ‘Most Inspirational OTT Series’—Panchayat 2. India Women’s Cricket Captain Harmanpreet Kaur was adjudged the ‘Most Inspiring Sportsperson of the Year’ and Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev the ‘Most Positive Influencer’. Goa was the ‘Happiest State’ and Smile Foundation the ‘NGO that Brought the Most Happiness’. And then there were two Special Jury Awards for the India Women’s Hockey Team and actor Rishab Shetty (see Why They Won).
The evening concluded with the ‘desi’ rock and roll group Faridkot bringing the audience to their feet with a setlist that included Amar Jalal singing their chartbuster ‘Nasha’ twice on special demand. There were smiles all around and a spring in everyone’s step after the group’s hour-long vibrant act—bringing to an end the Happiness Fest that surely lived up to its name.