Whether it was the protest against filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmavati” that resulted in the film’s release date being pushed to uncertainty, actress Kangana Ranaut tagging filmmaker Karan Johar as a “flagbearer of nepotism” or singer Sonu Nigam facing a backlash for calling azaan “forced religiousness” — Bollywood had enough controversies grabbing headlines in 2017.
List of Bollywood’s biggest controversies of the year:
“Padmavati”: This Sanjay Leela Bhansali directorial raised controversy after the Karni Sena, an organisation of the Rajput community, urged a nationwide ban on the film claiming that it “distorts historical facts”. Bhansali also appeared before a Parliamentary committee and maintained that the row over the yet-to-be released movie was just based on rumours, strongly rejecting charges that he had distorted “historical” facts about the possibly mythological Rajput queen, played by Deepika Padukone in the film.
Bhansali’s screening the film for a few mediapersons even before the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had cleared it, added fuel to the entire controversy. The film, which was scheduled for release on December 1, was deferred.
The row took a turn for the worse when threats were issued against Bhansali and the film’s lead actress Deepika Padukone.
Kangana Ranaut vs Karan Johar: One of the most fearless and outspoken actresses in Bollywood, Kangana called filmmaker Karan Johar a “flagbearer of nepotism” on his own chat show. It not just sparked a debate about the prevalence of nepotism, but snowballed into a bigger controversy when Karan and actors Saif Ali Khan and Varun Dhawan poked fun at Kangana and chanted “Nepotism rocks” at the IIFA Awards event in the US. They later apologised for their act once it attracted widespread criticism.
Sonu Nigam and the azaan: Renowned singer Sonu Nigam lashed out at “forced religiousness” in India after being woken up by the azaan (Islamic call to prayer) from a mosque. In a tweet, he said: “God bless everyone. I’m not a Muslim and I have to be woken up by the azaan in the morning. When will this forced religiousness end in India?” After the brouhaha that ensued, he even shaved off his hair in reaction to a maulvi’s supposed call to have his head shaved for a Rs 10 lakh reward.
Ranbir and Mahira: The two grabbed attention when spotted together at the Global Teacher Prize gala in Dubai and then their pictures surfaced online in which they were seen smoking cigrettes together in New York. Mahira was shamed for her act, but Ranbir came to her rescue and issued a statement supporting the actress. Even Pakistani stars expressed support to Mahira, who made her Bollywood debut with “Raees” this year.
Nawazuddin’s memoir: Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui had to apologise and withdraw his book “An Ordinary Life” after a complaint was reportedly filed against him for outraging the modesty of his “Miss Lovely” co-star Niharika Singh who slammed the actor for not taking her consent before sharing their personal equation with the world in his memoir.
IFFI’s non-screenings: “S Durga”, a Malayalam movie, was dropped from a jury-suggested shortlist of the Indian Panorama section of the IFFI along with another film “Nude”, triggering controversy. The director of “S Durga” got caught in a long-drawn battle with IFFI organisers to screen his move, and even moved the court, but in vain.
Some of the other controversies that made people think were when Fatima Sana Sheikh of “Dangal” fame was trolled for wearing a swimsuit at a beach and posting the photograph on her social media page during the month of Ramzan.
Also, Akshay Kumar winning a National Award for “Rustom” raised eyebrows of those who felt the decision was “unfair”. The actor was caught in controversy again when he made a comment on comedian Mallika Dua on a comedy show, saying, “Mallika ji aap bell bajao, mai aapko bajata hu.”
Even actor Shahid Kapoor’s wife Mira landed in a soup when she said at an event: “I wouldn’t want to spend one hour a day with my child and rush off to work. Why did I have her (Misha)? She is not a puppy, you know. I want to be there for her as a mother.”
Veteran actor Rishi Kapoor also made headlines when, in cheering up the Indian women’s cricket team during the World Cup final, he tweeted, along with the famous shirtless picture of former captain Sourav Ganguly: “Waiting for a repeat of Sourav Ganguly’s act on the balcony of The Lords Ground, London, when India beat England 2002 NatWest series final! YO.”
He rounded off the year by rebuking invited journalists at an event by muttering: “Muft ki daru…” (MR, Inputs: Agencies).