A Bollywood movie still. Photo: Indianactors (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
Bollywood has taken a blow from Covid-19 as theaters are closed and studios shuttered. Photo: Indianactors/Wikimedia Commons
  1. Aamir’s Dangal Body

Aamir Khan’s Dangal ran into controversies before and after its release. Just before the release of the film, a Fat to Fit video of Aamir Khan putting on weight and then shedding it in six months achieving an unbelievable six pack was released on the net and went viral. In an interview to First Post Ranveer Allabadia, a fitness expert said that this was next to impossible and what Aamir is not revealing is that the amount of steroids he has used to achieve this. “It takes six years to shed off 97 kilos and achieve those six packs. At 51 it is even more tough because testosterone levels drop,” said Ranveer.

Dangal deals with the journey of wrestler Mahavir Phogat and his daughters Geet and Babita who become wrestling champs. The real-life coach of the girls PR Sondhi, who has been portrayed as PR Kadam in the film is upset about the way the film has twisted facts.

He alleges, “The film shows I locked up Mahavir in a room. Something like that never happened. I am upset that they show the character of the coach in such poor light.”

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THE VERDICT: Aamir Khan’s Dangal is all set to cross the Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion) mark in its second week. The controversies helped the film to stay in the news. The film is a superhit and everyone is talking about it.

  1. Fawad Khan’s Pakistani connection

India has been raving about Pakistani actor Fawad Khan since his debut in the 2014 romantic comedy Khoobsurat. He instantly bagged the Filmfare Award For The Best Male Debut. With hits like Kapoor & Sons the going was good till he got dragged into a political tussle between India and Pakistan. Terror attacks and surgical strikes dragged him into a controversy he could not escape. Indians on social media demanded the return of Fawad Khan to his home country and Karan Johar had to actually make a statement that he would not cast Pakistani actors anymore before he was allowed to release his film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil which starred Fawad Khan.

THE VERDICT:  Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was finally released and did fairly well at the box office but this might be Fawad Khan’s last film in Bollywood. After what Karan Johar had to face not many producers would want to cast the Pakistani actor. 

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3. Hrithik-Kangana spat

No one could imagine that stars like Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut could have a spat in the media that would take such an ugly turn. It all started when Kangana in an interview on television mentioned a certain “silly ex”. She didn’t mention any name but she was served a legal notice by Hrithik Roshan saying that she should apologise to him. What followed was a slug fest where nameless relatives and friends quoted as sources in the media made matters worse. Kangana’s ex-boyfriend quickly jumped in too. While Kangana held her head high and held on to the fact that she had a relationship with Hrithik Roshan he kept denying the whole thing.

THE VERDICT: Usually controversies work in favour of a film but in Hrithik Roshan’s case it was the opposite. Right after the spat his film Mohenjo Daro released and tanked at the box office. And now interestingly nothing is written in the media about where their legal battle stands. Could have been that they have reached some kind of understanding away from the media glare.

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  1. Udta Punjab and Censor Board fiasco

Udta Punjab, a film directed by Abhishek Chaubey and produced by Ekta Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap ran into serious trouble with the Censor Board that demanded 89 cuts in the film including taking off the name Punjab from the title of the film.

The producers fought a legal battle with the Censor Board and finally emerged victorious with a single cut.

THE VERDICT: For starters the film was a runaway hit the moment it was released. Those who have a watched the film say that there was nothing in the film that demanded so many cuts. Indian films pass through the Censor board with far more vulgar and adult content.  

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  1. Panama Papers

A group of journalists worked for months on the Panama Papers to find out which prominent people had their wealth stashed away where and how they were connected to off shore companies earning in millions. Names of Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai featured in these Panama Papers where Amitabh was found to be the director of 4 off shore shipping companies between 1993 and 1997. Both denied that whatever was published in the Panama Papers was not true.

THE VERDICT: Although some mainstream newspapers picked up the story of Panama Papers but soon the news lost steam. Actually in India since it is a given that celebs have black money it failed to have any kind of impact on Amitabh or Aishwarya’s fan following. In fact, recently on a chat show when Aishwarya Rai was asked what she thought about demonitisation she said it was a great way to fight black money and corruption.

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  1. Naming of Taimur

When Kareena Kapoor and her husband Saif Ali Khan named their new born Taimur social media went on an overdrive criticizing them for naming their child after the infamous conquerer Timur  or Tamerlane.

THE VERDICT: The naming of Kareena-Saif son and reaction on social media slamming their choice of the name shows how people suffer from a myopic vision and also have half-baked knowledge. Taimur is a Musliam name that means a person with good problem solving capabilities with a creative approach and has leadership qualities. Strangely when this came to the fore no one apologized to the star couple on twitter for their rant the day before.

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  1. Salman’s rape comment

Salman Khan while shooting for the film Sultan where he played a wrestler said that he followed such a grueling schedule that he often found himself exhausted and couldn’t virtually walk. He compared his state to the situation of a raped woman. People found this to be an extremely sexist comment and he was even summoned by the Maharashtra State Commission for Women where he failed to turn up.

THE VERDICT: Salman Khan did not apologise for the comment despite National Commission of Women taking it up. The movie Sultan went on to set the box office on fire and Salman established his supremacy in Bollywood. His comment was quickly forgotten as one of his many follies.

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  1. Karan Johar –Ajay Devgan

Karan Johan ad Ajay Devgan clashed at the box office with their films Shivaay and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.  But Ajay Devgan alleged that Karan Johar had paid Kamal R Khan (KRK) Rs 25 lakhs to tweet negative about Shivaay and say good things about his film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. An audio clipping where KRK admits he has taken money surfaced on the net.

Ajay Devgan vehemently criticized this and said this shows where the film industry is going. Karan Johar did not comment on this while sources close to Karan Johar said that he would not care to have a conversation with KRK so the question of using him for his films publicity did not arise.

THE VERDICT: Shivaay didn’t do well Ae Dil Hai Mushkil managed to keep its head above the water. And many wouldn’t be surprised it Karan and Ajay planned this to give their own films some publicity.

  1. Naseeruddin Shah’s Comment

Naseeruddin Shah commented that the late superstar Rajesh Khanna was a poor actor. Despite the fact that there were thousands always standing outside his bungalow and he was a hit-machine at one time Naseer said he only liked two of his films Anand and Aradhana. This comment did not go down well with his fans and even the late actor’s daughter Twinkle Khanna demanded an apology. Naseer apologized but maintained that he was not retracting his statement although he felt he should not have hurt the sentiment of his family.

THE VERDICT: Naseeruddin Shah is known for making such comments that kick up controversies. He was merely expressing an opinion. This shows how Bollywood is totally not open to any kind of criticism.

  1. Priyanka Chopra’s T-shirt Controversy

Priyanka Chopra was on the cover of an international magazine and it the T-shirt had the words Refugee, Immigrant and Outsider struck off leaving Traveller as the only right choice. Everyone felt the actress was insensitive to the plight of the refugees. The actress quickly issued an apology by saying, “I am really, really apologetic about the fact that sentiments were hurt. The point the magazine wanted to make was actually something good.”

THE VERDICT: Priyanka Chopra did not elucidate further but it was probably her way of fighting racism. Because in the western world, brown or dark skin is usually associated with refugees, immigrants and outsiders. But she probably she did not want to get into another controversy by trying to get out of one by making an anti-racist statement.

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Amrita Mukherjee is a freelance journalist and author. She has worked in esteemed publications in India and Dubai and she blogs on women's issues at www.amritaspeaks.com.

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