Anyone who follows Bollywood knows that it thrives on controversies. There are controversies around everything, be it actors, their personal lives or their films. Every time a thought-provoking Bollywood movie releases, we know it won’t go down the throat of either extra sensitive people or the Indian Censor Board.
Be it sex, religion or politics, these 20 films have caused some of the biggest controversies in B-town.
Chetna was a path-breaking story for its time. It explores the idea of rehabilitation of prostitutes. While the subject itself was new, it is a tragedy that what actually caught attention over it were the intimate scenes of the lead actress Rehana Sultan. The audiences were not very impressed with it and the movie marked the descent of Sultan’s career.
Garm Hawa (1973)
Bollywood’s classic political drama created quite a stir during its time. Directed by M. S Sathyu, Garm Hawa narrated the story of a Muslim family and difficulties they faced post the partition of India. Since the subject was sensitive, the censors feared communal outbreak. The film was put on embargo for 8 months; however, post its release it went on to win several accolades.
The political drama, directed by Gulzar, was banned as it was inspired by then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi and was later aired when Congress lost election in 1977. Aandhi was banned by Indira Gandhi as she felt that the movie was mildly inspired by her life. In truth, it was only the look of lead actress Suchitra Sen that was inspired from that of politician Tarkeshwari Devi.
Kissa Kursi Ka (1977)
Another movie purportedly a satire on the politics of Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi, Kissa Kursi Ka, was also banned by the government during the Emergency. In fact, the government confiscated all prints of the movie and burnt them. The government leaned heavily on the I&B ministry and the producer was handed in a show cause notice with 51 objections!
Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978)
The film was banned because of provocative dressing of Zeenat and extremely steamy scenes between Shashi and Zeenat. It was banned for some time and later became a huge success and won various awards.
Bandit Queen (1994)
One of the best films to have ever graced the silver screen, Bandit Queen received an over whelming positive response at several film festivals. However, it was criticized by the Censor Board of India for excessive use of crude language and sexual content. The film further faced issues when Phoolan Devi, the lady on whom the film was based on, raised an objection.
Kama Sutra, A Tale Of Love (1996)
In a rather hypocritical move, this film also faced the wrath of Censor Board which termed it ‘explicit’, ‘unethical’ and ‘immoral’ for the audiences of the nation which came up with the concept of Kama Sutra! This Mira Nair movie, which depicted the lives of four lovers in the 16th century in India, was a hit with the critics but a major flop with the Censor Board and ultimately got banned.
The film was undergone various controversies for its bold content. The story of the film revolves around two lesbians who are sisters-in-law and are also victims of unsuccessful marriages. Fire was the first ever film in the mainstream cinema to explicitly show homosexual relations.
Ek Chhotisi Love Story (2002)
The film was based on a teenager attracted to a married middle aged woman, played by Manisha Koirala. She accused the authorities for using body double in the steamy scenes created controversies. She accused the film production for using body double without her consent to which she tried to hinder the film release.
An Anurag Kashyap film, Paanch, faced a lot of heat from the Censor Board. Said to be based on the Joshi-Abhyankar serial murders in 1997, the movie was a thriller with high octane violence, crass language and drug abuse. No wonder, the Censor Board decided to ban the film and people awaiting the release of the movie had to make-do with the pirated version of the film.
The Pink Mirror (2003)
This film by Sridhar Rangayan is one such movie which brought the concept of trans-sexuality to the forefront. The story dealt with the quest of two transsexuals and a gay teenager to seduce a straight man. No prizes for guessing that the Censor board got offended by the ‘vulgarity’ in the movie and banned it even after the film garnered rave reviews at film festivals around the world.
Hava Aney De (2004)
An Indo-French co-production, Hava Aney De never screened in India. With the Indo-Pak war as the back-story, the Censor Board of India suggested over 21 scenes to be deleted. However, the director refused to accept the offer and the film was pulled out last minute.
Black Friday (2004)
A cinematic adaptation of S. Hussain Zaidi’s book about the 1993 Bombay bombings, ‘Black Friday’ was not released in theatres for two years. The accused in the actual bombings, who were named in the movie, sent a petition seeking a stay as the verdict was still pending and the movie might bias public opinion against them. The court agreed, and the movie saw the light of day after two years.
It’s a story of a Catholic priest, who romantically involved with a young woman. The film was protested against by those that felt it was a negative portrayal of Catholicism and indecent. The film was banned due to its highly erotic content.
Directed by Deepa Mahta, this movie showcases the difficult and simple lives of widows in ashrams. It hurt the feelings of Hindus which led to burning of posters of this movie on the Ghats. Activist Arun Pathak also organized a suicide protest to stop the film production.
A retired man falls for a friend of his daughter. The theme of the film was ‘against Indian values’ and raised quite a few eyebrows.
Lamhaa was banned in Pakistan and some GCC countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE and Oman. UAE National Media Council Censorship Board felt that the content of the movie is highly objectionable and controversial. Earlier, the film’s screening was cancelled in Kashmir amid the tense atmosphere. The producer didn’t want to be insensitive to the sentiments of the Kashmiri people. The Indian censor board passed the movie with an A certificate after two edits were made.
My Name Is Khan (2010)
No publicity is bad publicity, and MNK raked in the mullah when it was released, thank yo the political controversies it generated well ahead of its release. SRK apparently was harassed by the immigration officers when he went to the USA to promote his films. Besides he also ran into a tussle with Shiv Sena when he made a comment about Pakistani cricket players not coming to play in the IPL. As a result, there were attacks on cinemas and booking centers.
In early May 2011, Bhopal civic authorities bulldozed the sets of Aarakshan because it was erected on disputed land. Some pro-Dalit groups in Kanpur protested Saif Ali Khan being cast in the role of a Dalit. They objected to the actor’s royal background and saw his role of a so-called Dalit as an insult to the community. The film was banned in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh before its theatrical release. Later SC lifted the ban in UP. There was also an unexpected mid screening ban on the film in the multiplexes of Gurgaon, on the night of its release.
It’s a modern day thriller which talks about a lesbian love story entangled within an Islamic terrorism-related angel. Bringing together two ‘taboos’ in one package, the Censor Board couldn’t digest the nudity and the lovemaking scenes between two protagonists. Reports also suggest that the movie was accused of “igniting unnatural passions” and hence was denied release in India, except for a few states.