By Durga Chakravarty
NEW DELHI– The world of Bollywood, it seemed, was controversy’s favourite child this year! Starting with the brouhaha over the AIB Knockout, Salman Khan’s tweet support for Yakub Memon, the FTII logjam, and more, 2015 had ample reasons to feature Hindi film celebrities on the front pages of newspapers.
IANS has compiled a mix of the newsy, serious and even quirky moments that left a string of celebrities and their fans wondering what went wrong:
* All India Bakchod (AIB) Knockout: “Kutte, kameene” – oh well, these sounded like a melody once you heard the AIB Knockout! The AIB Knockout, which saw Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor being ‘roasted’ by ‘roast-master’ Karan Johar, amidst abuses and vulgar gestures, left its critics red-faced and several youths up in arms against the attack on freedom to watch what they want to. A live ticketed show, the event was aired online and received brickbats and an FIR against 14 people, including our celeb trio. The debate that ensued was as engrossing as the roast itself!
* Anushka Sharma blamed for India’s cricket World Cup semifinal loss: Blame one guy’s girlfriend for an entire team’s loss. What does one say? It happens only in India! On one side, when our powerful filmmakers are singing tunes of “women empowerment”, here was actress-producer Anushka Sharma being called a “bad omen” for being by her rumoured beau and cricketer Virat Kohli’s side during the ICC Cricket World Cup semifinal in Melbourne. Of course, we lost the match and the battle of the senses.
* Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and racism: Art and creativity can have myriad interpretations. And it was truly a case of perception that dragged Aishwarya Rai Bachchan into trouble for starring in a jewellery brand Kalyan Jewellers’ ad. She was labelled “insidiously racist” for “representing aristocracy from a bygone era – poised and relaxing”- while an underage dark-skinned emaciated slave struggled to hold an oversized umbrella over her head. The creatives took the blame, and the actress went on to charm with “Jazbaa”.
* Maggi, Maggi, Maggi: Enacting and endorsing the memorable tune of the 2-Minute Noodles landed actors Amitabh Bachchan, Preity Zinta and Madhuri Dixit Nene in a legal soup as the food safety regulators from Barabanki, a district of Uttar Pradesh, had found unexpectedly high levels of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and lead in excess of the prescribed limit, in the samples they tested.
* Salman Khan, the ‘bhai’ of all controversies: 2015 was as much a year of success as a time for troubles for “Wanted” star Salman Khan, but he remained ‘Dabangg’. On May 6 came a sessions court judgment holding the actor guilty in a September 2002 road accident in Mumbai that claimed a life and injured four others and sentenced him to five years’ jail. His fans were in for a rude shock, but the emotional “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” star walked free when the Bombay High Court acquitted him in December.
But just months before this, came Salman’s tweet about Yakub Memon and Tiger Memon. The actor received flak after he condemned, via a tweet, the hanging of the 1993 Mumbai blasts accused Yakub Memon and demanded that Tiger Memon be brought to justice instead. On his father Salim Khan’s behest, the actor apologised for his remarks.
* FTII logjam: The ‘Mahabharata’ over the appointment of small screen’s Yudhishtar made for news upon news this year. The students of Pune’s Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) went on an indefinite strike to protest against the appointment of actor-BJP member Gajendra Chauhan the chairman of the facility. And the saga continues…
* Twitter trolls: Twitter turned out to be a cauldron of controversies for B-Town, especially for celebrities who tried to comment on socio-political issues. Meat ban, Maggi ban, AIB Knockout ban, Ghulam Ali ban, FTII, intolerance… what a plethora of subjects to tweet on and also unfortunately land in trouble for speaking out in a country where ‘freedom of speech’ is a fundamental right. Should Bollywood celebs keep their mouths shut?
* When India missed Ghulam Ali: This was a miss, not to be missed in the list of controversies for 2015. Legendary Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali’s concert in Mumbai had to be called off after resistance from the Shiv Sena political party. Hurt by the politics being played over his concerts, the singer cancelled all his shows in India. Dear all, at least let the music play!
* Intolerance in India: Talk of intolerance and people become intolerant. That was the last quarter’s highlight, what with Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan’s comments on the state of affairs in the country. Both faced a backlash. Shah Rukh Khan went from being called ‘Badshah’ to being called a “Pakistani agent”, while Aamir was asked which country he felt safe in.
Censorship: Cut, mute and swap: That was the mantra that the Indian censor board followed, much like every year. Hollywood’s James Bond entertainer “Spectre” released with a shortened kiss while “Angry Indian Goddesses” saw words like “Saala”, “Indian figure” and “Sarkar” getting removed. Obviously, not leaving a lot of people very happy.