This year, Indians moved on from obsessing over porn star-turned-actress Sunny Leone, to look for a person on the internet who doesn’t even exist. But someone else was high up on the search rankings. Sonam Gupta, who was much discussed amid the country’s major demonetization move, ranked third as most searched person in India this year, according to Google India’s trending metrics. The only problem? She doesn’t exist.
What started as a joke, Sonam Gupta quickly became a talking point in the nation. The phrase “Sonam Gupta Bewafa hai” (Hindi for “Sonam Gupta is disloyal”) was first seen circulating on an old Rs 10 (10 cent) bill. Later, it appeared on some of the new bills. With the nation wondering who she was, her name became a bona fide meme all over social media.
Demonetization, of course, was a huge topic for many.
It was the seventh most searched news event in India, according to Google. The country’s surprise move to invalidate much of its cash left millions in the country constantly looking online for new information. Brexit also caught India’s attention, ranking third in the most popular news event this year. And of course, the U.S. election was huge — it ranked second most popular news event here.
Donald Trump was the most searched person
Naturally, the president-elect Donald Trump topped the list for most trending person in India. High up on the ranks too was Vijay Mallya. The Indian tycoon, who owes Indian banks over a billion dollars, quietly left the nation to find new home in the U.K. He was also in news recently after his Twitter account got hacked.
And on top of the events list was the Rio Olympic Games 2016.
Indian female athlete, P.V. Sandhu, who won a silver medal at the Olympics, the first Indian woman to do so, was the second most searched person in India this year. Dipa Karmakar, the first Indian female gymnast ever to compete in the Olympics, Sakshi Malik, who won the bronze medal in the 58 kg category — the first Indian female wrestler to win a medal at the Olympics, were also in the list. Arnab Goswami, one of India’s most watched news presenter, ranked as the tenth most searched person in India. Goswami surprised home viewers last month when he announced he was quitting his editor-in-chief and president spots at Times Now and ET Now.
The iPhone 7 and Pokémon Go was huge for tech
Indians also searched for the iPhone 7, Apple’s newest flagship smartphone. Apple should be pleased, since it’s currently trying to increase its footprint in India. And now that Pokèmon Go has finally come to India, searches have been crazy over the hit Niantic game leading up to the launch here. Show business too kept people glued to their browsers. Bollywood titles Sultan, Udta Punjab, and Kabali were among the top 10 most trending searches. Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Muskil, which found itself at the centre of a major controversy, was the fifth most searched movie this year.
Among celebrities, former beauty pageant contestant Pooja Hegde, film actress and model Disha Patani, film actress Urvashi Rautela were also among the top searched people in India this year. Sushant Singh Rajput, who starred in M.S. Dhoni, the story of India’s current cricket captain by the same name, was the top Bollywood actor to be searched this year.