From ‘My Name is Khan’ to ‘PK’: 10 films that courted controversies

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period saga ‘Padmavati’ is not an isolated instance of Bollywood facing right-wing backlash for pursing creativity


The Aamir Khan-starrer ‘PK’ roused a huge social debate thanks to its satirical take on religion.
The Aamir Khan-starrer ‘PK’ roused a huge social debate thanks to its satirical take on religion.

New Delhi: Late last week, members of a Rajput community group vandalized the sets of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period saga Padmavati alleging that the filmmaker was distorting facts. Over the years though, it has been quite common for Bollywood to face such backlash in the pursuit of creativity.

Here are 10 films that courted religious and political controversies.

1. Aandhi (1975): Gulzar’s political drama was said to be based on the life of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and was banned a couple of weeks after release. It was eventually re-released and shown on national television after the Janata Party came to power.

2. Kissa Kursi Ka (1977): The Shabana Azmi-starrer was a satire on the politics of Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay and was widely controversial for its time. The Amrit Nahata directed film was banned by the government, all prints confiscated and burnt.

3. Fire (1996): Members of right-wing political parties had called for an abrupt halt to screenings of the Deepa Mehta directed film across India, even though it was passed by the censor board. The Nandita Das and Shabana Azmi-starrer based on a lesbian relationship was accused of being alien to Indian culture.

4. Parzania (2005): Director Rahul Dholakia’s drama was based on the 2002 communal riots of Gujarat and featured Naseeruddin Shah and Sarika in lead roles. Banned in the state, the film received a limited release and ended up earning Rs76 lakh in box-office collections, besides National Awards for Sarika and Dholakia.

5. Water (2005): Accusations regarding the subject matter of the Indian-Canadian drama that resulted in vandalizing the sets forced director Deepa Mehta to shoot the film in Sri Lanka rather than India. The Lisa Ray, Seema Biswas and John Abraham-starrer ultimately made over a crore when released in the country.

6. Nishabd (2007): The Amitabh Bachchan and Jiah Khan-starrer supposedly based on Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial Russian novel, Lolita witnessed protests by several factions for deviating from Indian culture who demanded a ban on its release. The Ram Gopal Varma directed film made Rs7 crore at the box office.

7. My Name Is Khan (2010): Karan Johar’s critically acclaimed drama ran into trouble after lead actor Shah Rukh Khan commented on the exclusion of Pakistani cricketers from the Indian Premier League (IPL) that year, following which the Shiv Sena demanded a block on the release. The film went on to make Rs82 crore in domestic box-office collections.

8. OMG- Oh My God! (2012): The satirical comedy featuring Paresh Rawal and Akshay Kumar ran into trouble for hurting Hindu religious sentiments. The Umesh Shukla directed film earned Rs81 crore at the box office.

9. Madras Café (2013): John Abraham’s political spy thriller was based in the late 1980s and early 90s during the time of Indian intervention in the Sri Lankan civil war. Citing that it depicts the members of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as terrorists, Tamil political parties called for a ban on the film that made Rs42 crore at the box office.

10. PK (2014): The Aamir Khan-starrer roused a huge social debate thanks to its satirical take on religion. The Rajkumar Hirani directed blockbuster that also starred Anushka Sharma netted Rs337 crore at the box office

All figures have been sourced from movie websites Bollywood Hungama, Box Office India and IBOS Network

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