Tuesday, Dec 26, 2023

Melodi to Barbenheimer, how 2023 was the year of ‘rizz’

If you ask the Gen Zs, PM Modi had 'rizzed' up Italy's Meloni. A section of Indians, however, would say the opposite, with Meloni having charmed the otherwise 'monk-like' prime minister. As we head into 2024, here's hoping we all find our rizz.

rizz, melodi, barbenheimer, animalHere's why 2023 was the year of 'rizz' (Image: AI generated by DALL.E)

On December 1, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni shared a photo with her Indian counterpart, PM Narendra Modi, captioning it, “Good friends at COP28”, with the hashtag ‘Melodi’ — a combination of their names. PM Modi reposted the photo saying, “Meeting friends is always a delight.” The image followed the month-long ‘shipping’ of the two leaders by Indians on social media after the duo were seen sharing hearty laughs at the G20 summit in Delhi in November.

If you ask the Gen Zs, PM Modi had ‘rizzed’ up Meloni. A section of Indians, however, would say the opposite, with Meloni having charmed the otherwise ‘monk-like’ prime minister.

A truncated version of ‘charisma’, to have ‘rizz’ is to have charm, the ability to attract someone whom others might consider ‘out of your league’. The leaders’ rizz aside, ‘Melodi’ took some years in the making, with Italy and India sharing not-so-cordial ties until at least 2018. It was only this year that the two countries elevated their bilateral relationship to the level of Strategic Partnership.

Elsewhere in Europe, a ranking by Politico of leaders across countries saw Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy figure high on the rizz-o-meter, with a 9 out of 10. His Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, however, got a zero out of 10. The rankings perhaps reflect the ongoing war between the two countries, which has stretched on from February last year, when much of the Western world rallied behind Zelenskyy, sanctioning Putin’s Russia and cutting off trade with Moscow.


While the world was still dealing with the Russia-Ukraine war, another one broke out in the Middle East, with Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, which saw the Israeli forces retaliate fiercely, resulting in the deaths of over 20,000 Palestinians as of December 25. Meanwhile, at least 156 Israeli defence troops have been killed in combat, according to an AP report.

India, while condemning the October 7 attack, has called for restraint on Israel’s part, expressing concerns over the loss of civilian lives at both ends.

Festive offer

India also witnessed high-voltage elections to nine states this year, with parties looking to establish their dominance in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The elections to five major states at the fag end of the year saw a shift of power in the Hindi heartland, with the Congress losing out in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in the face of BJP’s campaigning — or PM Modi’s rizz, if you will.

Political experts have spoken time and again about the BJP riding high on PM Modi’s popularity. While some party leaders have expressed concerns over the BJP’s top brass making everyone else “dispensable”, others stand behind PM Modi’s unique “democratic style”.


Speaking of Indian politicians, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi seemed to be on a spree to woo voters with his ‘charm’, actively going around as the “jannayak”, visiting people from all walks of life to understand voters’ concerns. Though the INDIA bloc of Opposition alliance, looking to challenge the BJP, is yet to pick a prime ministerial candidate — though there have been talks of pitching Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge as one — the BJP has often pitted Rahul against PM Modi in its attacks on the Congress.

On the silver screen, Shah Rukh Khan made a comeback, oozing with rizz, in back-to-back hits Pathaan and Jawan. Ranveer Singh’s Rocky Randhawa not only rizzed up Rani but countless fans who instantly connected with the West Delhi boy who wears his heart on his sleeves.

On the other hand, bad boyfriends, too, made it to the big screen. Ranbir Kapoor’s Ranvijay Singh showed some serious lack of rizz, with Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s latest venture, Animal, coming under criticism for showcasing misogyny and toxic masculinity. Barbie, meanwhile, introduced us to the vacuous Ken. Ryan Gosling’s character was not only majorly lacking in rizz, he turned worse when he discovered “patriarchy”. The movie was released at the same time as Oppenheimer, giving rise to the cultural moment ‘Barbenheimer‘, given the vast difference in the subject and genre of the two films. Oppenheimer starred Cillian Murphy — an actor with unquestionable rizz ever since his role in Peaky Blinders.


Another cultural phenomenon that gripped audiences across the world was the last season of HBO show Succession. While Tom Wambsgans, (spoiler alert) who ultimately inherits the Roy empire, may not have won hearts all over, he managed to rizz up his way to the top.

And that is precisely the spirit of ‘rizz‘. The word ‘rizz’ is credited to Twitch streamer Kai Cenat, who spawned the term before it became popular on TikTok and Instagram. Cenat in a podcast explained, “Rizz is when you’re talking to a girl and, at first, shit is not going your way… It’s looking bad for you. Until you spit game and you’re rizzing them up to where sh*t is starting to go your way. It’s like you are going from a dead end to when you’re so slick with your words and what you’re saying, to where the girl is like, ‘Okay, who is this?’”

To paraphrase a little, for Cenat, having rizz means having the ability to turn the situation in your favour despite all odds. As we head into 2024, here’s hoping we find our rizz.

First published on: 26-12-2023 at 12:25 IST
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