continued from yesterday…
Arguably the most controversial film in this entire list, Black Friday was based on the book by the same name. Written by senior Mumbai-based journalist S Hussain Zaidi, Black Friday narrated the events that preceded and followed the dreaded 1993 blasts in Mumbai. The movie was ready in 2004 but kept getting stuck as the court stayed its release. Finally in early 2007, the movie hit the screens after the accused had been charged under TADA. The movie was a hit and propelled director Anurag Kashyap into some much-deserved limelight.
Get the Friday off Black Friday and you still have a controversial film. For one, a antique furniture dealer sued director Sanjay Leela Bhansali alleging that he had purposely burnt the sets of Black to claim insurance. It was also alleged that the director has under-insured the movie sets in order to reduce his premium outgoings and has charged him. The dealer was reportedly not compensated either. The state-run Maharashtra Film, Stage and Cultural Development Corporation, which owns Mumbai Film City where the studio was located, had also slapped a Rs 60 million suit on Bhansali for causing damage. That was not all. A deaf and mute assistant also accused the director having skipped his payment for his services. After a dozen controversies and allegations the movie was released to packed houses giving relief to SLB and the awards it garnered was just the cherry on the icing.
There wasn’t anything in the film that stirred the controversy like MNIK as much as what the lead actor said outside of it that undid it. Aamir Khan, always a man about town when his film releases, made himself seen along with those protesting against raising the heights of the Narmada dam in Gujarat. The film was banned in the state for quite some time till the court decided to intervene and provide protection to the theatres screening the film.
It was a film that pretty much brought the mighty Yash Raj films to its knees. The battle between multiplex owners and distributors reached a head with this particular film. The owners claimed that Yash Raj demanded more than a fair share of profit from the film. Not willing to give in to the Studio’s demands, all multiplexes refrained from showing the movie. As a result Tashan, one of the first big budget films of the year, ended up being a miserable flop. Funnily, it was Yash Raj, which started the whole anti multiplex owners trend with Fanaa.
Jo Bole So Nihal
This Sunny Deol-starrer was supposed to be a celebration of ‘Sikhdom’. Ironically, the movie managed to irk the very community it was cheering for. Members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee accused the film of showing “the Sikh community in a bad light.” Things turned really ugly when two high-intensity blasts rocked two cinema halls in the capital killing one and injuring about 53 others. The community also had issues with a Sikh character being chased by scantily clad women. Further the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee claimed that the film had grossly misused the term ‘Jo Bole So Nihal” as the title of the movie, that was spoken in Sikh temples and battlefields. The controversy didn’t help the movie at all as JBSN is one of the biggest flop of ‘Dharam’ Puttar Sunny Deol.
This was probably Deepa Mehta’s first brush with controversy before ‘Water’. Right-wing activists stormed two theatres in Mumbai and prompted the movie’s distributor to stop the showing of Fire. The film focussed on a lesbian relationship between two sister-in-laws. It was clearly a first in the Indian context where homosexuality to this day is discussed in hushed tones. The controversy also rocked the parliament with opposition members slamming the Hindu nationalists for “intolerance” and “hoodlum rule” in Mumbai. Interestingly Shabana Azmi one of the two leading actors in the film and an MP, was present in the house when the debate started. She silently watched it unfold without once making a comment. The movie was discontinued from the movie theatres which resulted in massive losses for the producer and distributors of the movie.
A period piece set in Varanasi, Water was to complete Deepa Mehta’s trilogy – Fire and Earth being the first two. But the movie ran into controversy right from the first day of the shoot. Water dealt with the plight of Indian widows in the 1930s and was supposed to be shot in Uttar Pradesh. However the state government the film’s location permits as mobs stormed the ghats along the Ganges. The film’s sets were burnt as were effigies of the director. At some point Deepa Mehta gave up the idea of shooting in India and put together an entirely new cast. Seema Biswas replaced Shabana Azmi and Lisa Ray replaced Nandita Das. The film was shot and completed in Sri Lanka under a different working title. The movie was released and it earned critical and commercial success abroad but in India it still awaits release.
Ek Choti Si Love Story
Manisha Koirala who had created waves when Dil Se released found herself in a spot when a film called Ek Choti Si Love Story began to generate curiosity amongst the trade circuit. The story revolved around a body double she had allegedly approved of. Shashilal Nair, the director of the film claimed that Manisha had no problem with the scenes where the double was used. Manisha, of course, claimed otherwise. Things came to a head when the actress approached Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackery to intervene. Nair was ‘advised’ to delete the scenes but he insisted that the Sena chief should see the film first before suggesting any cuts. The movie was banned in Mumbai but was released elsewhere to a thunderous response.
So the conclusion is that till Bollywood churns out movies year after year there would be more interesting controversies hitting the headlines.