What’s showbiz without juicy controversies and this year gave us ample chance to gossip about them. Here’s a compilation of some of the biggest controversies that made headlines in 2019.
Title change of Mental Hai Kya to Judgementall Hai Kya, Paagal to Yeh Saali Aashiqui
Bollywood's queen of controversies Kangana Ranaut's film Judgementall Hai Kya landed in a soup right before its release and the makers had to bow down to the pressure and change its title. Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) wrote a letter to the censor board and objected to the previous title Mental Hai Kya saying it was "discriminative, stigmatising, degrading and inhuman in projecting mental disorders and persons who suffer from mental disorders."
In fact, The Indian Medical Association (IMA) and actress Deepika Padukone's The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF) also condemned the scrapped title and poster of the film.
In another instance, Hungarian visual artist Flora Borsi accused the makers of Rajkummar Rao-Kangana starrer Judgementall Hai Kya of plagiarism. Borsi said that posters of the film bore inspiration of her trademark style, and said such plagiarism of a freelance artist's work was shameful.
Judgementall Hai Kya was also supposed to clash with Hrithik Roshan's Super 30 but the latter's release date was shifted.
Meanwhile, Amrish Puri's grandson Vardhan's debut film had to also undergo title change after The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) asked the makers of Paagal to change the film's title because of the "social stigma" attached to the word. The film ended up being renamed as Yeh Saali Aashiqui.
PM Narendra Modi biopic release date changed due to ongoing polls
Vivek Oberoi starrer biopic on the Indian Prime Minister, titled PM Narendra Modi, was stopped from releasing ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. It was set for theatrical debut on April 5 but hit screens only on May 24. It was opined that there is high probability that a particular political party will gain electoral mileage if the film is permitted to be released during polls.
Protests against Panipat
While Arjun Kapoor was hoping to pull off a winner here, Panipat was dragged into dirt first over one of the film's dialogue. Then after release, protests against the film escalated for allegedly portraying king Surajmal in a bad light. The film is based on the third battle of Panipat fought between the Marathas and the Mughals.
Jaipur, Bharatpur, Bikaner became hot grounds for people speaking out against Panipat while demanding immediate ban on the film. Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot took to Twitter to demand intervention of the Censor Board to settle the locals' claims with regard to Ashutosh Gowariker's film. The controversial part was later deleted, confirm sources.
The curious case of casting
While people criticised actresses Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar for taking on characters of older women in their new release Saand Ki Aankh, Hrithik Roshan's portrayal of a mathematics teacher from Bihar in Super 30 also generated a lot of interest among people batting for more diversity in films. Saand Ki Aankh triggered off a debate on age-suited casting. Veteran actresses like Soni Razdan and Neena Gupta felt that the makers of Saand Ki Aankh could have approached senior actors for the roles.
Meanwhile, Anupam Kher and Shabana Azmi sided with Taapsee and Bhumi, with Shabana even claiming in her statements that there is no shortage of opportunities for actresses her age.
For Super 30, a debate was stirred around how Hrithik's face was tanned for effect. Bhumi Pednekar's character in Bala was root for the debate for the same reason, where audiences questioned her darkened complexion when in fact a suitable artist with naturally similar features could have been picked. Not controversies though, the debate around gender, race and age appropriate casting kept questioning the film industry's cultural and social responsibility.
Bollywood films banned in Pakistan and vice-versa
Post revoking Article 370 in Kashmir, Pakistan announced a blanket ban on Indian films releasing in the nation. Pakistan has been a hot territory, especially for films with big star-cast. However, many members of the Indian film fraternity like Madhur Bhandarkar, Sonu Sood and others maintained that the ban Hindi films in Pakistan was of little consequence.
Apart from refusing release of various Indian films regularly on grounds of censorship, Pakistan has been refusing release of Indian films almost every time the political atmosphere between the two nations became tense.
Earlier in the year, following the Pulwama terror attack, a blanket ban on Pakistani artistes in Bollywood was also imposed by All Indian Cine Workers Association (AICWA). Atif Aslam's two tracks--one from Salman Khan's Bharat and another one from Ajay Devgn's De De Pyaar De--were reportedly dropped after the ban on Pakistani artists in India.
Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi
In January, Kangana made her directorial debut with biopic on Rani Laxmi Bai titled Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi. Director Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi, better known as Krish, was ousted from the film and Kangana took credit for co-directing. In interviews, after disassociating from the project, Krish said that Kangana had been unprofessional and that he had, in fact, made 70 percent of the film.
Mishti Chakraborty, who plays the role of Kashibai in Manikarnika also criticized Kangana for chopping off her role from the film.
Also, rightwing Shri Rajput Karni Sena opposed Manikarnika as it shows Queen Laxmibai dancing to a special number, saying it was against tradition. They asked the makers of the film to show them the movie before its release. However, Kangana did not pay heed and even said in an interview, "I am a Rajput and I will destroy them."
Kangana, in interviews, also criticised Bollywood celebrities for not turning up for the screening of Manikarnika but contacting her for the screenings of their films. All said and done, the film released to a decent box office report.
Film celebrities in controversies
Kangana Ranaut and Rangoli Chandel
If there was an actress who was talked about the most during 2019, it was Kangana. Ranging from her statements on Bollywood actors Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt and others for not being aware or showing concern in political matters pertaining to the country to targeting the industry for promoting nepotism, Kangana put no lid on when it came to all things Bollywood.
Kangana even got into a heated argument with a wire service journalist at an event. It started when Kangana questioned the journalist over his negative comments on her last release, Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi.
The sisters got in a protracted battle with Taapsee, when Rangoli chipped in that Kangana had been offered Saand Ki Aankh but she suggested Neena Gupta and Ramya Krishna for the two sisters on-screen (a debate was stirred around age-appropriate casting in the film).
Meanwhile, Kangana also launched a few heroine-centric films namely Dhaakad and a biopic on J Jayalalithaa, making her one of the few actresses to be investing and making such films.
Vivek stirred the hornet's nest when he retweeted an exit poll-themed meme, which involved Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The meme was originally shared by someone else on Twitter, but Vivek picked it up for his own comment. Many believed that the tweet was disrespectful. Not only did the Bollywood fraternity slammed Vivek for sharing the meme, The National Commission for Women (NCW) also sought a response from the actor for his tweet.
Vivek went into damage control mode and deleted the tweet. Later, he was seen hugging Aishwarya's husband Abhishek at an event.
Kabir Singh and Sandeep Reddy Vanga
Kabir Singh has to be the most-talked about film of 2019. It was in fact the most lucrative film of the year before War released in October. The character which Shahid Kapoor plays in the movie has been condemned by a section of the audience for being misogynistic. The issue escalated when, in an interview, Sandeep defended the film and the character saying "when people are deeply connected in love, they should not shy away from showing their worst side to each other."
He spoke referring to a scene in the film where the character slaps the female actress for not bowing down to his pressure of eloping.
The idea of Kabir Singh promoting toxic masculinity stuck with Sandeep so much so that he was even slammed by a section of filmmakers after he shared his views on a rape case on social media. Sona Mohapatra and Vikramaditya Motwane called out Sandeep, saying that he should stop making films which glorify sexist behaviour.
Karan Johar and Bollywood party
There was a lot of brouhaha around an alleged 'drug party' attended by several top stars at Karan Johar's residence. Karan had posted a video on Instagram of a party he hosted at home. Soon afterwards, Akali Dal MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa shared the video, alleging that top stars -- such as Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Arjun Kapoor, Malaika Arora, and Vicky Kaushal -- were flaunting a "drugged look" in the video. Manjinder Singh also urged Commissioner of Police, Mumbai to file an FIR against the actors under the Narcotics Act.
Karan and Vicky defended the incident. While Karan maintained that celebrities were being made soft targets, Vicky, who was seen rubbing his nose in the video, said his sick appearance had to do with him recovering from dengue fever.
Akshay was one of the biggest controversial male stars of 2019, and it outside of his film works. People, time and again, took jibe at the actor for holding a Canadian passport, however the actor maintained that it did not diminish his patriotism and love for the country in any way.
At one point, Akshay even shared a post on social media saying the negativity surrounding his citizenship was unwarranted and that he does not need to prove his love for the nation. He also stated that even though he holds a Canadian passport, he has not visited Canada in past seven years.
Speaking at a recent event, Akshay announced that he has applied for the Indian passport and will give up his Canadian citizenship when the order comes through. He recently faced criticism for saying that he accidentally liked a tweet on the Jamia Millia Islamia students.
Zaira Wasim quits Bollywood
Zaira Wasim, the Kashmiri girl who became famous overnight after her superb debut in Aamir Khan's Bollywood blockbuster Dangal, said goodbye to her film career. In a detailed post on her Facebook page, the 18-year-old cited religious reasons for her decision to quit her promising career in Bollywood. Her announcement came as a shock to many. She said she was not happy with the line of work as it interfered with her faith and religion.
Mika banned in India
Film bodies banned Mika for performing at the wedding of a relative of former Pakistani President, General Pervez Musharraf, in Karachi. Mika's presence became known after pictures and videos of his performance appeared on social media. Mika's performance at the event came at the heels of Indian government's decision to revoke the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir. After the Indian government repealed Articles 370 and 35(A), relations between the two governments became tensed and fans were miffed by the fact that Mika performed at the wedding ceremony of the former Pakistani president's relative.
He was banned by film bodies but his industry boycott was lifted after he offered an apology.
(With inputs from IANS)
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